With kids heading back to school, why not help ensure they return to the classroom with a gleaming, healthy smile? Here are some great tips for treating your youngest patients and some helpful resources to share with their parents.
Communicating with kids in a way they can relate to is a crucial part of making them feel comfortable. Look for topics beyond their teeth! Talking about a favorite children’s show, movie, musical artist, school subject, hobby, sport or food can help put kids at ease and distract them from the exam or procedure.
When possible, sit down or position yourself so that you’re at eye level when you talk to kids, and maintain good eye contact. It’s natural to want to address the parent or caregiver first, but establishing a communication link with the child is equally important.
Finally, particularly for younger children, explain what will happen during the visit in language they can understand. Pediatric dentists have developed child-friendly terminology to speak about equipment and procedures. A child who shudders at the mention a “drill,” “injection” or “extraction” might feel much more at ease if you refer instead to a “buzzer,” “mosquito bite” or “wiggling the tooth out.”
Communicating effectively can go a long way in making the experience less stressful — for everyone. At the end of an appointment, be sure to jot down a few notes about the child’s interests so you’ll have something to talk about during the next visit.
Look at your waiting area through the eyes of a child — is it someplace you’d want to be? If you don’t already, stock your waiting room with appealing toys, stuffed animals, books and games. You might even consider creating a special area dedicated specifically to children.
Dental-themed activity books, cards and coloring sheets can also be a terrific distraction. Delta Dental offers fun, fact-filled resources for kids that teach them about dental health:
At the end of a visit, it’s also a good idea to reinforce good behavior with praise and little rewards like a sticker or another small prize.
While they might not require toys and stickers, teens can definitely benefit from your wisdom.
As voracious consumers of social media, teens might run across videos of do-it-yourself dental “hacks” that are anything but helpful. TikTok in particular seems to a be a hotbed of terrible advice, with videos of everything from filing down teeth with nail files to whitening teeth with cleaning solvents receiving hundreds of thousands of views.
Why not fight fire with fire? TikTok is also a platform you can use for good by educating viewers and reaching new patients. Many dentists and dental professionals have posted TikTok videos of their own, warning against dangerous dental practices and promoting safer alternatives.
Other ideas to consider:
And finally, while some of your teen patients might think these DIY trends seem like a good way to save money in the short term, remind them that long-term, potentially irreparable damage to their teeth is never worth it.
Be sure to remind parents that they have a wealth of dental information for kids at their fingertips. As Delta Dental members, your patients have access to Delta Dental’s online wellness library, which includes a collection of articles about kids’ and teens’ dental health.
Topics include back-to-school tips, a guide to healthy dental habits for kids, dental health advice for teens, healthy kid-friendly recipes kids and informative videos on topics from teething trouble through caring for teeth with braces. Articles, recipes and videos are also available in Spanish.
Parents also have access to Grin! for Kids, a free, full-color activity book that covers a variety of dental health topics in a fun and interactive way for children grades K through 5. Kids will love the games, puzzles, jokes, coloring pages and more. This publication is available in both English and Spanish.