It can be said that while one cannot have a dental practice without a dentist, most dentists would not be able to practice dentistry without a dental assistant. In our practice, that is certainly the case, since our dental assistants play a crucial role in our ability to provide comfortable, pleasant and comprehensive care to our patients. From ensuring that all of our instruments are properly sterilized, to taking a x-rays, to explaining treatment to our youngest of patients, our dental assistants are involved in every aspect of patient care.
Here are excerpts from a recent interview with Kris, the Lead Assistant of our orthodontic department and all around fabulous assistant:
What made you go into dental assisting?
While in High School, I began working as a receptionist for my own dentist. I really enjoyed working there and this motivated me to apply to become a dental assistant at SouthEastern Technical Institute. This was a 9 month long program. After completion, I sat for the dental boards and after passing these examinations, became a Certified Dental Assistant.
How did you end up at Dentistry For Children, P.C.?
I started my career 25 years ago, as a dental assistant at a general dentist’s office. We saw mostly adult patients, and while it was interesting, I didn’t feel especially challenged. One day, while chatting with one of my patients, he happened to mention that his daughter worked for a pediatric dentist by the name of Dr. Eli Schneider. That very day, I got a call back from Dr. Schneider, asking if I would be interested in coming in for an interview. I jumped at the opportunity, and after a 2 hour interview, was hired on the spot. It was the best decision I ever made!
If it were not for Dr. Schneider, I would be an ex-dental assistant, working as a manager at McDonalds (which is the second job I held while a general dentistry assistant).
What’s the best part about being a pediatric/orthodontic dental assistant?
I LOVE working with children. They are amazing and say the funniest things – teenagers are especially hilarious (though admittedly, they are not my own teenagers). I love sharing my knowledge of dentistry and braces with both our patients and their parents. I’ve learned that when kids are scared or nervous, showing them and spending time explaining procedures helps them overcome their fears. It makes me feel victorious when we win them over.
In orthodontics, it is incredibly rewarding to see the smile on patient’s faces when we take their braces off and they see their straight teeth for the first time. It’s simply awesome.
I also volunteer my time. With the doctors at my practice, I’ve helped with dental screenings at local schools where we identify children with untreated cavities and help ensure that they are treated. I’ve also spent time treating children who are unable to receive routine dental care. You should see the smile on these kids’ faces.
What’s your normal day like?
There is no ‘normal’ day in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics. Besides being the lead assistant in orthodontics, I assist our pediatric dentists in both our main practice, and also at our local hospital, where we treat children with significant dental needs under general anesthesia. Working in a hospital environment is quite different from our office, and I like the change in pace. In the office, I set up patient trays, sterilize our instruments, take radiographs, assist our hygienists, check the schedule to make sure patient appointments are correct, order supplies, write up lab slips, communicate with our vendors, talk to patients and/or parents on the phone, coordinate emergency appointments, assist our doctors chairside….phew! There are so many things that need to be done. However, most importantly, we have fun with our young patients!
Any advice for those thinking of becoming a dental assistant?
If you like working and educating people, and don’t mind teeth, dental assisting is a great profession. If you do decide to become a dental assistant, make sure you attend an accredited 9 month program, at the end of which you can become certified. I maintain my certification by attending continuing education classes and conferences.
Any final words?
I’m so happy with my profession. Thinking back to how I got started in the field, it’s amazing how one person (thanks Dr. Schneider!) can open a door for you and change your whole life.