By Alana Wills….
Fear of the dentist is a very real thing, and it is often set from a very early age. Children are incredibly sensitive to their environment and, if they have parents or older siblings who are anxious about visiting the dentist, they too will likely experience the same responses.
Let’s face it – the dentist can be a scary place! This is a result of everything from the clinical setting to strange smells, frightening sounds and, most of all, fear of the unknown. It serves everyone well to do your best to make your dental clinic as welcoming and child-friendly as you possible can.
The Importance of Dental Care for Children
First and foremost, children should start seeing the dentist regularly from their toddler years. Doing so not only sets them up practically for a life of great dental health, but it also helps break down barriers between child and dentist, as well as minimizing any likelihood that the dentist will come to be someone they fear.
The perfect time for a first dental visit is when the first teeth have appeared – and by age two at the latest. This helps familiarize your child with the clinical environment, the experience of lying down in the dental chair, and of having their teeth looked at and cleaned. Maintaining regular checks is important as the teeth develop, and educating children about oral hygiene can never start too early.
Tips to Make your Clinic Welcoming for Kids
- Make It Fun!
The best dentists for children maintain a child-friendly environment. All staff must be able to relate well to children, from the dentist to the reception staff. Making dental visits fun includes incorporating vibrant, happy colors into the clinic decor, using smaller instruments that are suitable for smaller mouths, and taking the time to make the experience a positive one for the child. Allow parents into the examination room with their little ones.
- Explain What to Expect
We fear the unknown more than anything else. Tell the child exactly what you are doing using terms they will understand and which will not instill any fear – “I’m just looking to see how many teeth you have”, “how good are you at brushing?”, “stick out your tongue”, etc. Show them how the bed works, how irrigation water works, and what (benign) instruments you will use (e.g. dental mirror, suction tube). Have a happy chat and praise them throughout.
- Provide Child-Friendly Toys and Books
Great child-friendly dentists will have fun dentistry educational materials – books, stuffed toys, and other items to look at (and even to purchase if parents so wish). You should also provide child-friendly TV or music options in the waiting room or examination room.
Brave young children deserve to be rewarded! Have a selection of stickers, coloring-in sheets to take home, or even a certificate to give young kids after they have been to the dentist. You can also offer fun character toothbrushes and toothpaste for sale for parents to purchase in your clinic or as a free reward to help encourage kids to take ownership of and enjoy looking after their teeth.
Preventative dentistry is a lifelong commitment – and setting kids up with a great foundation from the outset is the best way to achieve dental compliance for life.
By Alana Wills on behalf of AdamDental.com.au
Alana Wills is an experienced freelance content writer who works in collaboration with www.adamdental.com.au, a leading online distributor of dental supplies in Australia, including educational toys and stickers for dental clinics.