Depending on the age of the child it can be a real challenge to ensure that they are comfortable and that you are able to do your job when they come into the dental centre. They will probably be a little nervous as it can seem awfully intimidating to a young patient when they see all of the tools and the bright lights. Even many fully grown adults will often put off going to the dentist for as long as possible.
1. Think like a child
Children can pick up on the smallest of signals from an adult and they will respond accordingly. It is important to make sure that any pediatric patient is welcomed warmly and that there is no sense of impending doom or discomfort. If possible, the parent should be in the exam room as the child will no doubt be very scared if they have to go into a strange room with someone they just met.
2. Ask questions and keep the conversation going
If you keep them occupied they will have less chance to get worked up. Practice makes perfect but most kids love talking about superheroes, pets, school or Christmas presents. The goal is to come up with a topic that they want to keep talking about and will be more than happy to think about for the duration of the exam. This will make you seem much less threatening.
3. Explain what you’re doing
If the child knows what is happening and more importantly how long it will last for they will be much calmer. If there are no surprises then there is even less chance that the child will have a negative reaction to any stage of the examination or procedure. Most of the time the pediatric patients just need a little reassurance that the procedure will be over soon and that there is nothing to worry about.
4. Don’t use words they won’t understand
If you are using dental terminology with the child, and even the parent while the child is in earshot you will give them something to worry about. They will begin to fear what they don’t understand and if you’re throwing words at them that they have never heard before this will only become more and more of a problem for them.
If you’re feeling especially confident you can even rename certain objects and tools to kid friendly names. Try this out to see what works best. The more tips and tricks that you pick up over time, along with any additional continuing education dental knowledge you accumulate, the better you will be with your pediatric patients.
5. Don’t rush any aspect of the procedure or exam
You should appear to be totally relaxed as if you have done what you’re doing a thousand times. The patient will pick up on this and be much calmer in most situations. You should aim to be as quick as possible, but you don’t want to rush it too much.
6. Listen to the child
By paying attention to the child you may notice that at times you may need to give them a quick break. If they have reached their breaking point then it might be time to pause the procedure.
7. Tell them they’re doing great
Children love praise. So even if they’re not doing so well it doesn’t hurt to give them a bit of a boost. If you get frustrated with them, then they’re only going to get more fussy.
8. Oral hygiene tips are for the child and adult
After all, it will be the child that needs to look after their teeth in the long term. Make sure you give the advice and tips to the child and make sure you do so in a way that they understand.