How To Make Children Comfortable at The Dentist
We all have habits from our childhood that stick with us as adults. For some it’s a nostalgic love of a movie, for others it’s a fear of the dentist.
An article from the US National Library of Medicine suggested that when a traumatic dental episode occurs in childhood, it has a lasting effect regarding adult dental anxiety. Meaning that dental anxiety in childhood could affect their oral health as an adult.
Establishing positive interactions between patient and practitioner offers long-term benefits on both sides of the relationship.
A child that is confident with the dentist will take that confidence into adulthood by answering questions about their dental health and comfort honestly, attending regular appointments and checkups, and scheduling important procedures without fear or hesitation.
A pediatric dentist will benefit from a positive relationship by gaining higher patient volumes, increased referrals, and a positive reputation for their practice.
To create the space where children feel safe in the exam chair, there are a few measures the dentist can take.
Numbing Is Not Enough
While sedatives like Novocain offer relief by dulling the pain during a checkup/procedure, it is not enough to ease a child’s fears. In fact, a study of 1,024 students found that the local anesthetic injection was the most feared part of a dental procedure.
So, what else can pediatric dentists do?
How Pediatric Dentists Can Ease Dental Phobia
1. Update Equipment
There have been incredible advancements in dental technology/equipment. One example is in laser dentistry. As a replacement for the infamous drill, soft and hard tissue lasers are less painful, promote blood clotting, and minimize the damage to the surrounding gum tissue. One review about the affect lasers have on patient satisfaction stated,
“Patients can leave our office with no gauze, no sutures, and they’re so happy that they tell their friends.”
The review continues to talk about the benefits laser equipment had on patient flow.
“My patients quickly started telling their family and colleagues about their appointments, leading to more and more new patients.”
Laser dentistry offers potential benefits on both sides of the doctor patient relationship. You can invest in that potential by researching laser equipment sold in your area or partnering with companies like Atlas Resell Management where they will send you a quality refurbished laser from anywhere in the U.S. In the end, your patients and their parents will thank you.
2. Have a Conversation
For many children, their dental anxiety stems from a fear of the unknown. Take a moment before you begin the check-up to have a conversation with your patient. Describe what will happen throughout the check up and prepare them for any sensations or noises they will experience so they aren’t startled.
You could also ask the parent to participate in this conversation by asking them to step into the chair to imitate what you will do. This procedure is called “tell-show-do”. Having this conversation will help the child gain a little more control and establish a more trusting relationship.
3. Create A Distraction
Distraction is one of the most useful tools in any doctor’s repertoire of patient comfort. That’s why you’ll find funny pictures hang on the walls and even the ceilings of a dental office.
From a survey of 1,118 dentists, 65% stated that they had been asked to add Netflix as an amenity to their office. There have also been requests for headphones, massage chairs, and Wi-Fi in the waiting room.
Get creative and think about any form of entertainment that you can include in the appointment experience that could entertain your patient.
With these methods, your little patient can have a positive dental experience that builds confidence and sets them up for strong adult teeth.