Children's Dental Information
Calming the Anxious Child
Q: How does a pediatric dentist help with dental anxiety?
A: Pediatric dentists have special training in helping anxious children feel secure during dental treatment. And, pediatric dental offices are designed for children. Staff members choose to work in a pediatric dental office because they like kids. So, most children are calm, comfortable, and confident in a pediatric dental office.
Q: How will a pediatric dentist help my child feel comfortable?
A: Pediatric dentists are trained in many methods to help children feel comfortable with dental treatment. For example, in the “Tell-Show-Do” technique, a pediatric dentist might name a dental instrument, demonstrate the instrument by using it to count on your child’s fingers, then apply the instrument in treatment.
The modeling technique pairs a timid child in dental treatment with a cooperative child of similar age. Coaching, distraction, and parent participation are other possibilities to give your child confidence in dentistry. But by far the most preferred technique is praise. Every child does something right during a dental visit, and pediatric dentists let children know that.
Q: Should I accompany my child into treatment?
A: Infants and some young children may feel more confident when parents stay close during treatment. With other children, doctor-child communication is often enhanced if parents remain in the reception room.
Q: What if a child misbehaves during treatment?
A: Occasionally a child’s behavior during treatment requires assertive management to protect him or her from possibly injury. Voice control (speaking calmly but firmly) usually takes care of it. Some children need gentle restraint of the arms or legs as well. Mild sedation, such as nitrous oxide/oxygen or a sedative, may benefit an anxious child. If a child is especially fearful or requires extensive treatment, other sedative techniques or general anesthesia may be recommended.
Because every child is different, we have a wide range of choices available to help a child complete needed dental treatment. We will make a recommendation of behavior management methods for your child based upon your child’s health history, special health needs, dental necessity of treatment required, emotional and intellectual development, and parental preferences.
The three main goals of behavior management are first to help your child feel relaxed and confident; second to guide a child in coping with treatment; and third to complete dental treatment as quickly and calmly as possible.
A Menu of Behavior Management Techniques
Tell-Show-Do: The pediatric dental team explains the treatment using words just: right for the child’s age and level of understanding, telling the child the treatment in a simplified manner, and then does the treatment.
Positive Reinforcement: The pediatric dental team praises the child for any behavior that helps with treatment. Every child does something right during a dental visit.
Distraction: In this technique, the pediatric dental team chooses treatment words carefully, pass instruments out of the child’s sight, and occasionally distract the child’s attention away from the treatment using conversation, music, or games.
Voice control: The pediatric dental team changes voice tone occasionally to calm a child or get a child’s attention. Typically, we speak in a controlled tone and repeat messages as necessary.
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