You might be one of the lucky parents who never has to remind your child to brush & floss. Since early childhood, they’ve been fascinated with teeth, examining their fallen-out baby teeth, sad when the tooth fairy looks away, always pointing out new dental facts. It may be that a career in dentistry is in their future. With your child now nearing adulthood, how can you encourage their passion in a healthy way?
Keeping Options Open
While your child may think dentistry is great now, they may change their minds when it’s time to choose a career path. The opposite may be true as well. That’s why encouraging great academics in all fields of study is important to keeping their future bright. While writing persuasive essays & algebra have little to do with the practice of dentistry, these skills will help show universities they are curious & hard working, & will develop skills needed to explore more niche areas in the field as well as running their own business if they should decide to want a practice of their own.
Teaching your child to be a lifelong learner is also important for a budding young dentist. Earning a dental degree takes several years in addition to undergraduate work. This can seem daunting to a child who is eager to be done with school. But for someone who is a lifelong learner, every day is an opportunity to grow & “attend class,” wherever that may be. With this mindset, a few more years of school seems like a much better prospect.
Know Financial Aid Is There
Many children opt not to pursue advanced degrees because they are intimidated by the level of debt they will incur while in school. Talk to your child about money, let them know you’re there to help & have them work through financial options with you. There are many grants & scholarships available both for undergraduate & doctoral work, especially for people with great grades who come from lower-income families. Talking to them about what their probable finances will be like upon graduation, & developing an early plan for fiscal stability, will also help alleviate fears that have nothing to do with their passion.
More Than Just Being a Dentist
A passion for oral health doesn’t always mean becoming a dentist. There are many types of careers in the dental world, from front desk & dental assisting to hygienists & engineers. With new advancements in technology, there are fields of study dedicated to robotics in dentistry. Dental anxiety is still huge for many, maybe going into therapy work to alleviate those fears would be rewarding. It’s important to look at everything that goes into a field to find the right piece of it to specialize in & maximize the joy you get from your career.
No matter your child’s path, the most important thing is to be supportive!