We love kids!! – from our receptionist, to our office manager, to our practice manager, to our dental assistants, to our hygienists, to Dr. Wully! Despite our love for ‘children’ (infant to young adult to special needs children and adults), our patients sometimes are unable to trust our intent for their well-being. Children can experience fear and anxiety at a dental appointment. This fear and anxiety can result from a number of factors such as age (i.e. – the very young), developmental delay, and past negative dental experiences.
All of us at Children’s Dental Care are well trained, highly skilled, and experienced at implementing behavior guidance techniques that help to develop trust, lessen or alleviate fear, and foster mutual appreciation between us and your children.
- Positive Reinforcement – From the moment your child enters our doors we are noticing and acknowledging things about them that we value and which we know they would like to have noticed. We may compliment a pretty bow or a cool dinosaur T-shirt. We may allude to what a big boy or big girl they are. We may praise how well they are doing with their brushing at home. We make a big deal of how well they follow even the simplest directions. We praise them for being good listeners. This positive reinforcement helps them to warm up to us and be more at ease to do what’s needed to get through a dental appointment.
- Tell-Show-Do – Tremendous patience is a hallmark of our approach with young, anxious, or fearful children. This quality is especially exhibited in the tell-show-do technique of behavior guidance. First, we take a lot of time to explain to kids what we are about to do in non-threatening kid-friendly terms that they can understand. Then we take time to show them what we are going to do in a nonthreatening way, like on their fingers, or on ourselves. And finally, we ease into doing what we actually need to do within the children’s mouths.
- Distraction – Often when a child is anxious or fearful to take the next step in treatment, we can belay that fear or distrust by engaging them in a lively conversation about something we know they appreciate like a favorite TV show, or what princess or superhero they like. Such a conversation usually involves a lot of questions to get a child to talk more engagingly about whatever topic. Meanwhile, with their minds on one of their favorite things, we are able to accomplish in their mouths what they were initially resistant to do.
Behavior guidance is an art form that utilizes each team member’s style and personality while picking up on cues unique to your child’s concerns and personality. Behavior guidance is also usually a mixture of the above types of techniques with an endless number of other creative approaches.
Helping a child to overcome shyness, resistance, anxiety, or fear at the dentist is also a process. We at Children’s Dental Care are committed to that process. Many times, the process is not accomplished in one appointment. We want to reassure you that a behaviorally hard dental appointment for your child is not a failure, but just one step in the process that will progress to less anxiety and fear, and more trust, with repeated regular dental visits.