Going to the dentist without trepidation

How to cope with a child’s fear of the dentist

A guide for begginer dentists

When a dentist’s patients are children, the dental practice must be specially designed to fit their needs. First impressions are paramount if a climate of collaboration and serenity is to be created. Child patients have the right to feel at ease in an environment which should never come across as being hostile, but should rather be a place where friendly professionals will take care of them in a stress-free atmosphere and explain exactly what is going to happen before it actually takes place.

Here are some useful tips for dental practitioners to follow in order to help the younger patients to overcome their fears.

Create an environment that suits the patients: colour will break the ice!

Fear of the dentist’s chair is one of the reasons why visits to the dentist can be a traumatic experience for children. Grim premises and a cross-looking dentist will definitely not inspire confidence or promote trust.

The dental practice needs to be properly equipped: the walls should be decorated with the drawings and artwork of other child patients who have already been through it. A special space must be created just for kids with a collection of drawing materials and simplified age-targeted brochures for them to play with and browse.

Each single visit is a building block in the construction of a safe place where children know they are going to meet a friendly face and not a horrible ogre from a fairytale.

When a visit to the dentist's turns into a game!

Getting kids to feel involved is not difficult. A visit to the dentist’s can become a game and a fun opportunity for teamwork. Explain in a fun way and using straightforward terms what a dentist does and how the more interesting tools work so as to stimulate children’s curiosity and make them feel part of the process. Another trick is to use brightly coloured face masks, scrub hats and disposable towels. Donned before the dental work begins, they are ways to transmit positive energy and present an entertaining engaging face that will capture the little patients’ curiosity. Often anxiety is transmitted to children by their parents and exacerbated by unknown surrounds, but if they can be made to feel involved, children can be excellent patients.

Mothers play an essential role

The mother is the first person to help the dentist gain the confidence and trust of the child.

Visits are important even when the patient is just a baby. The dentist should give advice on how to clean the oral cavity and especially the toothless gums. Dentists should explain to mothers how to tackle the “dummy” issue and how their children can clean their first milk teeth. Mothers should be aware of the soreness babies will experience when they first teethe. Ailments will take various forms such as temperature, excess salivation or difficulty in sleeping.

Starting visits early is the best way to build up a good relationship with the dentist.

Getting them involved, arousing their curiosity and helping them to have fun is the best possible approach to adopt. It will make them feel at home at the dental practice and get them used to being with the dentist. Friendly colourful surrounds will enable the team of dentists and dental personnel to capture the attention of young patients. This method of visual communication is direct, instant and much more effective than many a word. Turning a dentist’s visit into a game and creating a simple engaging atmosphere is the ideal way for a dentist to earn a child’s trust and confidence. This positive association with the dental practice will accompany the child for the rest of its life.