Dental anxiety is not only a problem for children, but for dentists and hygienists, as well. When children cry, scream, or move about in the chair, they create a stressful work situation.
The sheer amount of work that goes into working with a frightened child (extra assistants, videos and other distractions) is almost enough to make dentists consider denying children access to their office.
But that is definitely not an option.
Fortunately, there are a few different things dentists can do to keep their younger patients calm and comfortable even during dental procedures.
Let their Parents be Nearby
If a child asks for their parent to hold their hand or be nearby and it doesn’t interfere with what you’re doing, let the parent do so. This can help children relax and feel more comfortable if they know that their mom or dad is right there with them. This is especially true for patients who are very young or have never been to the dentist before.
Parents also often want to see the dental exam room and make certain that it’s clean and professional.
One of the biggest sources of dental anxiety is that young patients don’t know what’s going on. They may not have been to the dentist that often or had much dental work done at all. They’re scared because they don’t know what’s going to happen or what you’re going to do.
If you walk them through everything and talk about what you’re going to do before you do it, they may not be as anxious. Many kids are actually very curious about the dentist and the different tools you use. Talk to them about each one and explain how what you’re going to do will help keep their teeth healthy.
Of course, always warn them when you’re about to do something that may hurt. Don’t sugarcoat it, either—let them know it will be painful, but that there’s a reason it hurts and that once you’re done, the pain will go away.
Don’t forget to smile, say hello, and be genuinely friendly! This helps puts everyone, not just your younger patients, at ease.
Make them Comfortable
One of the best tools for fighting dental anxiety in younger patients is comfort. If a child is comfortable in the dental chair, he or she is less likely to move around or become afraid.
Using a memory foam headrest, or even a full child booster seat will make young patients more comfortable and at ease. They also prevent dentists from having to chase children across the dental chair. Using a booster seat, dentists can position children at an improved height that makes cleanings and other procedures much easier.
To see some of the ergonomically friendly products that you could use, visit our store.