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How Dentists Can Help Children Feel More Comfortable

How Dentists Can Help Children Feel More Comfortable

2/15/2017 3:37:58 AM   |   Comments: 0   |   Views: 169

Dental anxiety is a real problem. It is recognized as one of the main public health concerns because it causes improper dental care and poor oral hygiene.

Many children develop a fear of dentist ( dental phobia ) as a result of the poor information around them. Horror movies, books and even stories from their peers contribute to making them uncomfortable. Unfortunately, most of this information is false and establish a wrong notion about the dental practice.

Sometimes, the fear is genuinely as a result of a bad previous experience or acquired through modelling by parents or siblings. This prevents many people from giving their children or wards the best dental or medical care they need.

Expert dentists at Tiger Smile Dental believe that as professionals, it is up to us to help dispel that fear by correcting the bad impression and doing our best to comfort the child when we can.

Here are some steps to help ease children at your practice.

    Give them enough information


    Children with high anxiety tend to respond better when they have an idea of what to expect. They are more likely to bear the procedure when they have been pre-informed. It will help to gently explain what you are about to do before each step. Reassure them of how easy it will be.

    Also, be calm so you can give a positive vibe. Children are very sensitive and can read your countenance. A reassuring demeanour will make them feel more comfortable about their procedure.

    Employ relaxation techniques


    You can help your child patients by suggesting certain relaxation activities. They help slow down the body’s heightened reaction. For example, simple breathing exercises are useful in controlling blood flow and increased heartbeat. Ask the child to take regular deep breaths and exhale slowly. When they maintain a rhythm, their anxiety will ease to a minimum.

    Allow their parent stay close

    A child may feel more relaxed when a loved one is close- someone they trust. If their presence won’t interfere with your work, they can hold the child’s hand. This is more common with first time visits to the dentist. As the child becomes more familiar with dental treatment, they’ll be able to do it alone. Dentists should work with parents to educate their children on the importance of a good dental hygiene. Increased awareness reduces anxiety.

    Use systematic desensitization


    This may take a while, but if time permits, you can employ systematic desensitisation . This involves gradually exposing the child to aspects of dentistry they are nervous about. If they are frightened of syringes, start by showing them one and explaining its purpose. They can touch the handle if they like. Next, place it near the child’s mouth and simulate injection, holding the syringe for as long as a typical injection procedure.

    While you do this, encourage relaxation strategies such as breathing exercises. Your patient should feel better over time. It will also help to surround your reception and office/theatre with positive images of the dental practice.

    Have a cuddly toy close


    Some children may bring along their favourite toy for comfort- allow them hold it during a procedure. For those who don’t, it is advisable to keep a cute stuffed animal they can cuddle in your office. Some dentists name the toy, for example, “Paddy the cuddly assistant”. This not only breaks the ice, but eases your child patient into a comfortable mood.

    Encourage bravery

    I have seen some bravery badges given to children after a dental procedure. This is good as it reinforces positive behaviour. Other dentists may have temporary tattoos, stickers or stars as an incentive. It is important to give them after the procedure and not before, otherwise it becomes a ‘bribe’. Bribes are not good for helping anxiety in the long run.

    You could also set up a token system that allows a child ‘cash in’ on a small treat after a successful visit.

    Finally, it is always good to have a great smile, not just for your child patients but adults too. Nothing reassures more than a happy dentist. If you can, tell some jokes too (not everybody can be Steve Carell). Tell them you just want them to have a beautiful smile- like yours.

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