Taking your children to the dentist early is a great way to help them practice good oral hygiene skills early. However, when kids come to see me at my practice, especially if they are new patients, they tend to be nervous. The room is filled with unfamiliar equipment that can be noisy or scary for a young child. This short guide details some of the things I do to put kids at ease during their visits.
Keep Things Simple
No matter what type of procedure a child needs, I usually keep the technical details simple. Unless a child is curious by nature and has a lot of questions for me, I don’t tell he or she about the specifics of putting in a filling, how I deal with cavities, or anything similar. This information can put some children at ease while scaring others. In addition, I use child-friendly terminology. I will tell the patient that I’m just going to “check their smile” or “count all the teeth” with them.
Collaborate With Parents
A parent is a great resource at my practice. Depending on the child’s age or level of discomfort, having a parent nearby can mean the difference between a relatively calm experience or a tantrum. Some young children will feel reassured if they can hold the hand of a parent during the procedure. Others may wish to put on a brave face to appear strong in front of a parent or myself. Each child reacts differently in these situations.
Highlight the Positives
If a child comes to me needing more than just a routine cleaning, I try to think of ways to highlight the main benefits of any procedures I will perform. Again, I use language that is friendly and inviting to the children. If I need to put a crown on a tooth that has some damage, I may talk to the child about how amazing it is that even their teeth can have shiny crowns.
Praise Good Behavior
Even if I am seeing a child for their first visit to my practice, I will compliment them on the state of their teeth and how good they look. The child is receiving positive feedback from a professional, and it helps to strengthen positive oral hygiene habits. As the visit progresses, I will let them know how brave they are and what a good job they are doing.
It’s not surprising to me that some children are scared of visiting my dental practice. I see a lot of anxiety in my adult patients too. These are a few of the techniques I use to keep kids calm during their visit.