Five Ways Family Dentists Help Make Dental Visits Easier for Children

If you're lucky enough to find a family dentist that is equally at ease treating adults and children, make the most of it. The American Dental Association, or ADA, recommends that adults and children have a dental check-up at least twice a year. That's a lot easier to accomplish if your dentist can make those appointments a little less intimidating, especially for children. Below are five ways that dentists help make children more comfortable.

Creating a Cheery Waiting Room

Children usually need some sort of distraction to take their minds off their dental visit, especially if it's the first time or if they've had negative experiences in the past. A waiting room filled with bold colors, children's books and magazines, and a kid-sized activity table can work wonders. You might find colorful copies of kids' magazines such as Hello and National Geographic Little Kids. Hands-on toys such as oversized building blocks, puzzles, or plastic cars and trucks just might get your child's attention. Some dentists may even put electronic toys in their waiting room, such as mini computer games.

Giving a Friendly Greeting

A friendly greeting goes a long way in establishing trust. On the first visit, the dentist usually greets the parent first and then the child. The child sees that mom or dad thinks the dentist is an okay person and not at all scary. When the dentist drops down to the child's level for their special greeting, the trust factor increases. A successful first meeting makes the follow-up visits easier.

Getting a Child to Participate in the Visit

Dentists experienced in treating children know that it's important for a child to participate in the treatment, even if it's to do nothing more than sit quietly in the chair. Asking a child to please sit in the chair works much better than asking that child if they want to sit in the chair. Think about it. What happens if they say no? Dentists have figured out that a polite request followed by a thank you works wonders. Talking to a children in a kind, respectful manner also makes them feel more at ease.

Patiently Asking Questions and Explaining Everything

A little chat with the dentist before treatment begins also tends to put the child at ease. The two might talk about school, favorite toys, pets, or hobbies. The subject matter doesn't matter much; it's just a means of starting the conversation. When it comes to the treatment, the dentist explains everything step by step, using simpler wording when needed. For example, instead of taking x-rays, the dentist will take pictures. The lead apron becomes a "heavy jacket" or even "armor."  In their prior conversation, the dentist may have found out that Robin loves science fiction. Calling that lead apron a "space-ray protector" might even get a giggle or two.

Keeping a Prize Box

Anticipation is a great motivator. Dentists often keep a big prize box in plain sight, often right in their treatment room.  They tell each child there is something special waiting for them when they are done with their appointment. That thought of a prize at the end usually gets most children through the procedure without much of a fuss. The prize boxes in the treatment rooms give children something to focus on while the dentists work away. The imagination kicks in, and instead of worrying about what that funny metal thing is doing in their mouth, the child's thoughts are all about the box and the prizes inside.

Your family dentist may use some or all of these methods, or they might even come up with some of their own. They may have TVs mounted on the ceiling so children can watch cartoons during treatment. In a family dentistry, that TV is often a hit with adult patients, making it a versatile method of calming the nerves no matter the age.