Dentists know that good oral health begins in childhood — and that for various reasons, many children are afraid of the dentist. It’s a predicament that challenges many dental practices that hope to get more young patients.
Getting the new patients in the door may be the biggest obstacle. Once you’ve provided them with a calm, positive experience, it may be easier to retain these patients. After all, parents want their child’s dental visit to be enjoyable too, and may be inclined to keep coming back to the place that their child likes. Here’s how to alleviate kids’ fears and become a kid-friendly practice:
Make sure your website includes language that makes it clear to parents that your office is well-equipped for children, and that your practice is kid-friendly. Provide children’s books, toys, and magazines in the waiting area. When it’s time for the dental appointment, ask the child if they’d like their parent in the room. This can help them feel more at ease.
Crouch down and meet the child eye to eye when you talk to them. Smile, and explain what you’ll be doing directly to them in kid-friendly terms.
Have them do deep breathing exercises. If a child seems anxious, guide them through a few deep breaths in and out while sitting in the chair. Or, invest in some guided imagery designed for children and give the child a pair of headphones and a listening device.
Put a television above the chair that includes a variety of kid-friendly shows or channels. This will help pull the child’s mind away from the procedure or check-up. If the procedure involves an injection, consider DentalVibe, which is proven to reduce patient pain and anxiety, including with adolescent patients.
Tell the child that they can raise their hand anytime they want you to stop. This is important, because if the child begins to feel uncomfortable in the chair or scared, you want to give them an opportunity to tell you so that you can correct the situation, or give them a small break.
Let them choose from a variety of fun toothbrushes after their cleaning. Consider having a box of small trinkets and let each child pick a toy. If they have no cavities, give them a chance to win an even bigger prize with a “no-cavity raffle.”
Obviously, the parent plays an important role in where their child gets their dental care. Be sure you’ve explained everything to them in a warm, compassionate manner. Don’t criticize oral care habits; the adult may feel this is a strike against their parenting. Instead, talk about ways their child can improve for optimal oral health. Be specific but not judgemental. A good example: “Emma’s visit went well. Her back molars may be hard for her to reach and had some tartar build up. I showed her how to brush those areas, but you may want to keep an eye on her for a while to ensure she’s covering these teeth.”
Becoming a kid-friendly dental practice can not only help provide care to this important age group, but might also bring in other family members. Making kids happy with their dental visit is a win-win situation for today’s dental professionals.
With the DentalVibe® Comfort Injection System, kids won’t have to worry about the pain of an injection. Download our free whitepaper, The Benefits of Vibration on Dental Pain and Anxiety, to discover how DentalVibe can benefit your practice.