It’s sounds like an oxymoron to mention joy and dentistry together, but the joys of children’s dentistry do exist. For some people, joy and dentistry are antonyms in that they are more likely to feel fear and pain at the dentist than to feel joy. Because of this sad fact, there are many children in this country for whom a trip to the dentist leaves a bad taste in their mouth.
Dentists are wise to this unfortunate trend, and there is a new trend in dentistry. Dentists have learned that it is not wise to expect children to just deal with a dentist’s office that is set up for adults. If you really want children to feel comfortable at the dentist, then you have to plan the dentist’s office around the needs of children. This simple truth is the guiding force behind children’s dentistry. For that reason, many pediatric dentists are in children’s hospitals.
Childrens or pediatric dentistry, begins with selecting the right staff. Look for a “dds” or “dmd”, which means the dentist graduated from an accredited dental school. Children are more sensitive to the moods and behaviors of the people around them than adults usually are. Thus, as bad as a dentist’s drill is an apathetic dental hygienist can have more of a negative impact on a child than the drill ever could. If a dentist wants children to feel comfortable in his or her practice, then he or she needs to take care to select personnel who are good with children.
You can expect the dentist, orthodontist or hygienist to be good at what they do, but there is a vast difference between being good with teeth and being good with children. Populating a dentist’s office with people who care about and can relate to children is a huge step towards improving the experience of children visiting the dentist.
Having the right people is important to children‘s dentistry, but it is not everything. Children are curious and imaginative by nature. When they are forced to sit still for long periods of time, they tend to get restless. Thus, the waiting area of the dentist’s office should be kid friendly. Wall murals, statues, a play area, books, trains, and other toys can help to occupy children while they are waiting to see the dentist. Once a child goes back to the see the dentist, a TV in the ceiling paired with a set of headphones can give children something to do while they are sitting in the examination chair. Designing a dentist’s office with the needs of children in mind is a huge step toward making children feel at home.
A TV in the ceiling, a nice hygienist, and a fun waiting area are important components of childrens dentistry, but there is more to consider. A TV in the ceiling cannot hide the pain of receiving a filling. As much as a dentist tries to avoid inflicting pain, some pain should be expected when a dentist has to drill and fill teeth. To make sure that children don’t hate the pain of going to the dentist, a dentist might use laughing gas to mask the pain of painful dental procedures.
If a dentist sets up his or her practice with the needs of children in mind, he or she can provide a pleasant dental experience for children. A dentist’s office should be sterile to avoid spreading germs, but a dentist’s office does not have to feel cold and sterile. Choosing the right personnel, setting up a fun waiting area, and using laughing gas to mask pain can make a dentist’s office child friendly. Moreover, when a child feels comfortable at the dentist’s office, he or she is more likely to think that good dental hygiene is important. After all, if the nice people at the dentist’s office care so much about good oral health, it must be important.
- Happy Tooth: Pixabay