Does your child like to paint, sketch, mold or craft? He or she may just make a great dentist one day. After all, dentists and artists have a lot of skills in common – and encouraging a love of art, self-expression and imagination can help inspire kids to go into dentistry.
“In addition to the medical sciences, there is a lot of art in dentistry. I believe art helps kids think outside the box and look at things differently,” says Dr. Majella Caven, general dentist at Anchor Family Dentistry in Commerce Township.
“Growing up, I loved the sciences as well as fine arts. I always wondered about a career that would blend the two, so I was naturally drawn to dentistry in college. Being able to make a difference in people’s lives and still be creative, is a great aspect of dentistry,” she adds.
In addition to hands-on work, Dr. Caven says dentists and artists typically use a lot of similar tools and techniques.
“When you look at an orthodontist, for example, to straighten smiles or teeth, you sometimes have to use wires and create a bend in that wire so then you’re actually able to make things happen,” she explains. “If you’re someone that makes beads, you use wire cutters or bird beak plyers and we also use that in dentistry.”
And dentists that create dentures or veneers – including Dr. Caven and her team at Anchor Family Dentistry – are using the same casting and carving techniques as artists that work with resin and ceramics.
This means, kids who are exposed to this style of art can develop both an eye for detail and the fine motor skills needed to be a dentist.
“A lot of things we do in dentistry is very fine and detailed work. Dentists need to be able to put things into natural patterns and maintain symmetry. They need to understand colors in order to create beautiful and natural smiles,” Dr. Caven explains. “Art helps kids distinguish shapes and it helps them look at patterns to understand how things should line up.”
Because Dr. Caven knows how beneficial art can be for kids, she encourages both her own kids and the kids she sees at her Commerce Township practice to get creative.
“I have four sons. My eldest two are 10 and 8 years old and are always drawing. Along with homework they spend a lot of time doing art,” she says. “I try to expose my kids to it because it helps to make them ask questions and look at things a certain way. You have a child being able to ask questions and utilize different materials and explore.”
At her practice, she offers even more opportunities for artistic exploration through her summertime art contest, which kicks off in May. During this contest, kids make a piece of artwork to be displayed at her office and the winner wins either a gift certificate or a Spin Brush.
“Having a child participate in art does not mean that they’ll be a traditional artist. It’s a gateway. It opens their minds (and) it might lead them to other careers such as dentistry,” Dr. Caven says.
For more information on Anchor Family Dentistry – or details on how art can encourage a career in dentistry – visit anchorfamilydentistry.com.