The 5 Key Skills of a Successful Pediatric Dentist
From a professional standpoint, many dental professionals spend their time transitioning between serving both adult and pediatric patients alike. However, some dentists feel especially called into the service of children, and decide to specialize in pediatric dentistry full-time. While your dental school education probably prepared you to assist child patients, there are some additional skills you must be aware of in order to succeed in this specialization.
In this blog, the team at LenDRgroup Consulting identifies five key skills you must have to excel as a pediatric dentist—and some other considerations to think about as 2023 dawns.
Essential Technical Skills Possessed by Pediatric Dentists
While a pediatric dentist performs many of the same services that a general practitioner provides, there are some additional technical skills that are necessary when interacting with young patients. Consider the following:
- Anxiety Management: Helping patients deal with anxiety is part of your dental school training; however, when dealing with children, you must know how to take an added approach to behavior management. This can mean knowing when to be playful, knowing when to be serious and stern (without being scary), and helping a patient remain calm and overcome their fears of the unknown. Realize that children can see a visit to the dentist through a completely new and unfamiliar lens as opposed to adult patients, and typically require some additional emotional support (especially if they have already been exposed to the fears expressed by an older sibling or an adult in their lives). In order to hone these skills, it might be wise to partner with a counselor or therapist who works with children who suffer from anxiety. This professional may be able to coach you on best practices that will enable your career as a pediatric dentist to go much smoother.
- Problem Solving & Adaptability: Dentists—especially pediatric dentists—must be able to address the unique challenges their patients face and rise to the occasion. Pediatric cases, in particular, can be complicated, especially if a child faces anxiety or is dealing with medical or behavioral issues. Many times, pediatric dentists must pivot on a dime, handle a last-minute or emergency appointment, and remain flexible if a child is having an “off” day while in the chair.
- Manual Dexterity: Pediatric dentistry is a field that requires incredible manual dexterity as primary teeth leave less room for error when compared to adult teeth. Baby teeth, after all, may have less than half of the thickness in enamel when compared to an adult tooth. Therefore, precision is required. Moreover, this skill is even more important when you consider that a child has a shorter attention span and may begin to be restless or wiggle around in the chair. As such, accuracy and speed are needed in order to complete treatment before a child reaches the end of their proverbial rope.
- Patience & Compassion: Your young patients are in a place of vulnerability when they are in the chair and could easily feel overwhelmed by all of the sights and sounds around them. As such, they may be fearful or worried about what is going to happen next. As a pediatric dentist, then, you must not belittle their fears or brush their worries aside. It is necessary to make an investment in time to ensure they are calm and comfortable. And ultimately, building a sense of trust will create a meaningful relationship between you and your patient.
- Fantastic Chairside Manner: We have spoken about the need to help patients remain calm and comfortable, but if you can also make the experience fun for the child, even better! Finding a great balance between energetic engagement and playfulness with overall comfort is the end goal of every pediatric dentist—and trust us when we say if you can accomplish this, then the word of mouth surrounding the quality of your practice will spread, which will lead to your overall success.
Boost Your Skills and Plan for Success in 2023
The beginning of any new year is the perfect time to complete a skills assessment as a pediatric dentist while also engaging in planning and goal setting for your practice. All of these are approaches that will enable your success this year—and in years coming.
And LenDRgroup Consulting would love to be your partner in that process. We regularly partner with pediatric dentists to help them attain a better perspective and understanding of what success looks like, and play a key role in plotting a roadmap to make it a reality.
As 2023 dawns, we invite you to reach out to learn more about the consulting services we provide to pediatric dentists who are committed to positive patient outcomes and practice success.