Your dentist should exhibit a positive mindset at all times to inspire your child’s confidence, in order to produce appointment outcomes that are both successful and safe. That mindset should not only simplify your child’s treatment—it should be the cornerstone of their practice. However, there are some mindsets that your dentist would like you, as a parent, to adopt too. Read on for some tips that’ll make your kid’s next dental appointment the best they’ve ever experienced.
The Kids Are Alright
Ask any pediatric dentist: they’ll tell you that most have discovered that children who are free from negative stereotypes (even devoid of any specific expectations at all) are far easier to treat than adults who’ve made up their minds about dentistry; thanks to a lot of negative media, adults often develop unfavorable attitudes towards dental practices and procedures. If you can help foster a positive attitude towards the dentist before their first visit (or, at the very least, prevent an overly negative view), you can help your dentist foster a positive first experience that sets the tone for the future.
The best pediatric dentists will use terminology that is age-appropriate and positive—for example, describing procedures with phrases like, “putting a tooth to sleep,” or other age-appropriate phrases. These phrases are not deceptive, but are instead “descriptive.” Your dentist should describe procedures accurately; when your child’s expectations are met, the trust between your dentist and their patient deepens. You can help this trust grow—which only makes your kid’s experience less stressful—by confirming your dentist’s language and descriptors. Your dentist will most likely provide your kid with a running commentary so that nothing comes as a surprise. Don’t negate the expectations your dentist creates. It could increase your child’s discomfort.
Focus on the Good
The right pediatric dentist won’t be fake with you or your child, and they certainly won’t sugarcoat things—but they’ll also want to focus your kid’s attention on the parts of the appointment that are working. They might ask your child to stop literally sugarcoating their food, though, and they’ll be direct and specific with the feedback they give your child. Let them. They are trained to communicate the procedures, and it’s best if you allow your dentist to take the reins. Don’t instruct with general language like, “be a good helper” while your dentist is working because your child might receive mixed messages about what they should be doing during the procedure. Instead, let your dentist take over and give your kid-specific, focused instruction: for example, “Kevin, it helps me when you hold your mouth open. Thank you!”
Short and (Less Sugary) Sweet
This is somewhat dependent on age, but your pediatric dentist should rarely appoint a restorative visit that is longer than an hour unless they are accompanied by sedation. Make sure that you don’t over prep your child about the time constraints, as you don’t want them to grow antsy, but be honest about the patience this visit might require. Honesty (and a potential reward for patient behavior) can go a long way.
Talk to us about what might work best for your child: a favorite movie playing in the background, a mini-discussion about their favorite superhero—whatever the framework may be, we are ready to paint the perfect picture of a dental visit for you and your child.