Treating pediatric patients can be challenging, but it helps if you use a few child-friendly techniques
By Sarah Lawrence, RDH
As we all know, dealing with children in a dental office can be tricky. Sometimes they are crying, scared, or generally don’t know what to expect in the dental setting. Everything is new to the child—the sights, sounds, and even the smells. Not only are children nervous, but they might be accompanied by an anxious parent, which can make managing the patient even more challenging. But by implementing a few tricks, you will be on your way to creating a positive dental experience for your youngest patients.
First impressions matter
When you first meet your pediatric patient, you must keep in mind that you have one chance to make a positive first impression. Getting down to your patient’s level, making eye contact, and offering a big smile can do wonders for a child’s mood. Imagine being in your patient’s shoes: a new place, new people, new sounds, and being greeted by someone who is two to three times your size can definitely be intimidating to a child.
Another thing that often helps lighten the mood is to comment on something your patients have brought in with them. Younger kids may have a toy or stuffed animal they brought with them from home.
Introduce yourself to their favorite toy and let them know that you might even be able to count the number of teeth that their teddy bear (or another stuffed animal) has! This helps children relax, and then they will usually get excited at the possibility of looking at their special stuffed animal instead of focusing on their fears. If they didn’t bring a special toy, see if you can find a character on their shirt, sparkles on their shoes, or perhaps a pretty necklace they are wearing. Find something to comment on that will make them feel special and show them that you are paying attention to them.