Dealing with younger patients involves a certain degree of finesse, as well as a unique personality that children can warm to. This, more than your medical techniques, is what can make or break a child’s experience in a dentist’s office. Most of these traits are common sense – be conversational (to their level), be happy and be an authority figure that a child could trust. Being able to work with a young patient works best when you truly care about their wellbeing – so avoid any disconnection from them. If this isn’t for you, then accept this fact and refer them elsewhere. If, however, you think you can tackle this challenge, here are a few tips that can make working with children easier.
KEEP DOORS OPEN FOR PARENTS
Every child is different, and it is key to provide as many options as possible to make them comfortable. From a practical standpoint though, the parents presence can be a distraction to the dentist and, ultimately, a hindrance. The parent-child relationship can stop the child listening to your instruction because the child will focus on the parent. The best way to battle these challenges is to keep the door open, but outline some basic rules for the parent. Suggest that they keep a safe distance, and make sure they are on your side during the procedure.
PROVIDE AN OPEN CHANNEL OF COMMUNICATION
Children can struggle in new environments without proper preparation. To help a child – and the parent – with their first few visits, it can help to send a welcome letter before they even enter your practice. This letter can contain information about how to get to your practice as well as some preparation tips for the parents child prior to their visit. Some suggestions could include keeping the news of the first visit a secret until the day of the visit. Another tip is telling the child that they are going to get their teeth counted. This makes it a much less stressful introduction to the dentist.
CATER TO THE CHILD
To help create a welcoming environment, a token of appreciation never hurts. Any child loves receiving a gift, no matter what it is. Offering up a sticker, their own toothbrush or a bouncing ball could be all it takes to give a child a fond memory of their first trip to the dentist. This is a great tool, as it makes future visits something the child will look forward to.[ssba]