MARIETTA, Ga., June 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- In her 34 years as a pediatric dentist in Marietta, Georgia, Dr. Rhea Haugseth has given thousands of children (from infant to college age) healthier teeth and better smiles. She has also helped them overcome any fears they may have had when they first visited Post Oak Pediatric Dentistry. She's enjoyed watching several generations of kids grow up healthier and happier as a result of her efforts. She appreciates every smile, hug and giggle from her patients – and those priceless moments when she'd hear patients tell their parents they couldn't wait to come back.
Dr. Haugseth has risen to the top echelons of her profession, serving as President of the Southeastern Society of Pediatric Dentistry, the Georgia Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and, from 2011-12, the 8,000 member American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Her overall love of working with children and dedicating her professional life to their dental and general health has given her the opportunity to solve one of the major challenges in her career. She has been continually frustrated by the lack of well-trained pediatric dental assistants she could employ as team members in her practice. There was little clinical training in pediatric dental assisting at the many dental assisting schools in the Atlanta area.
In recent years, she noticed that graduates of these dental assistant schools who came to do their "externships" in her practice seemed ill equipped to work in the pediatric realm; they had the book experience, but not any clinical experience dealing with young patients, which they needed to succeed in a dental office. This has led her to develop the Pediatric Dental Assistant School, a specialized program specifically designed to train dental assistants seeking rewarding careers in pediatric dentistry.
Her intensive training program – which promises that students will be "highly trained and clinically competent in nine weeks" – is similar to other dental assistant schools in the Atlanta area. However, the Pediatric Dental Assistant School is the only one of its kind in the United States. In addition to her commitment to growing the flagship location in Marietta, Dr. Haugseth is currently researching demographic trends and laying the foundation to open schools under this name in large cities where there are enough pediatric dentists to ensure immediate potential employment opportunities for the graduates of her training program.
Classes at the Pediatric Dental Assistant School are taught in her state of the art pediatric dental office and the curriculum is a mixture of home study, didactic course work, with an extensive focus on clinical experience and training. Contributing to the student's personal development and their technical expertise is the fact that the ratio is four students per instructor.
Revolutionary though it is, launching the Pediatric Dental Assistant School is not the first time Dr. Haugseth has broken exciting new ground in her profession. When she was at the University of Louisville Dental School in the early 70s, the field was truly a "boys club" and the prevailing mindset was that female students were taking up a spot that should be reserved for a male who needed to work to support a family. Women, many felt, would either drop out before earning their degree, or practice only part time or not at all when they had children.
She became frustrated that she would receive lower grades for comparable work to her male colleagues, but eventually her hard work and determination to succeed helped her earn the respect of her peers.
For parents who are considering taking their children to a pediatric dentist instead of a family dentist, Dr. Haugseth has a simple way of explaining the value of placing their trust in a dentist whose focus is children. Just as a pediatrician specializes in children's overall health, pediatric dentists are experts in the growth and development of children's mouths. They can spot problems such as early decay or crowded teeth - and treat them - before they do major damage.
Pediatric dentists know as much about kids as they do about children's dentistry. They undergo extensive training in child development and child psychology, which means they can calm kids' fears and make visiting the dentist a fun, positive experience.