Although dental appointments are essential to oral hygiene, many children suffer from anxiety and stress before an appointment. An estimated 20% of children and young people have experienced dental phobia. Pediatric dentists must understand how to ease the concerns of young patients to ensure a smooth visit.
Anxiety in children can take many forms. Some behaviors dentists could observe in the child are:
- Being angry or irritated
- Flushed cheeks or sweating despite a cool room temperature
- Fainting or dizziness
- Looking distressed, concerned, sad, or stressed
- Squirming or crying in the chair
A large portion of the child’s fear stems from a lack of control. They are in a new environment and have no idea what a procedure will feel like. They might’ve had a bad experience with a previous dentist. Communication, attentiveness, and kindness go a long way in managing any fears. The pediatric dentist should focus on giving the child a sense of control and redirecting their focus onto something fun.
Below are tips on how to make every dentist visit a fun experience for kids.
Most kids will spend time in the waiting area before starting their appointment. With proper interior design, children can use this time to relax instead of worry. Consider designing a play area away from the office’s foot traffic. Seeing an upset child exiting your office could increase their anxiety.
A play area should include numerous activities to keep children occupied. You could fill this will coloring books, comfortable chairs, video games, and cool toys. Playtime excitement is often enough to distract them from any previous fears.
Small TVs can be installed in the appointment room to distract children while the dentist works.
Incentives are an effective way to calm a child down temporarily. When children see a treat waiting for them at the end of the visit, they’ll feel more excitement than fear. Lollipops, stickers, and small toys are simple ways to incorporate rewards into your practice.
Kids often feel dental anxiety because so much seems out of their control. Helping them regain their sense of power can help children calm down. While dentists are in charge of the big decisions, kids can make simple choices. For example, if you have multiple toothpaste flavors, let the child choose the one they like. Ask the kid which color is their favorite if you have different bib colors. Because each office is unique, every dentist can find their own ways to give children more control over their visits.
Ultimately, creating an inviting environment while being in tune with your patient’s feelings will lead to a smoother appointment. Make sure to communicate with the parent to see if they have additional helpful insights into their child.
Here are our top recommendations for keeping kids happy in the office!
Fun pediatric masks with animal prints - https://topqualitygloves.com/collections/infection-control/products/top-quality-pediatric-face-mask-astm-3
Fun toothbrush and floss patient packs for youth -
Crayola Neon toothbrush kids will love -