Whether it’s rational or not, children are often scared of the dentist. As a dental assistant, you may need to calm down these children so that a dentist is able to check their teeth for any potential problems.
But what can you do as a dental assistant if you have a child that is dragged kicking and screaming into the dental practice? How do you reassure a child that could be as young as three years old that they have nothing to worry about? Read on to find out four ways to ensure peaceful pediatric visits.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
It is very difficult to calm down a crying child if you don’t understand why they are upset. After studying at dental assistant school,the dental practice will be a very familiar setting for you. However, for a small child it could be their first time in a dental clinic. Everything from the white dentist coats to the big dentist chair to the specialized tools and objects could make them feel anxious.
As a dental assistant, you can help to ease a child’s nerves once you understand this. They may want to keep something familiar with them. This could be a parent, a soft toy, or a blanket. Be encouraging of this and be friendly. Introduce yourself and the dentist by name and help them to feel relaxed and at home as much as possible.
Use Child-Friendly Language When You Become a Dental Assistant
When you have your first child-client after dental assistant college, it can feel strange to adapt your language so that they can understand. If you have children or younger siblings, you might find this easy. Try and think of creative ways to explain what is happening.For example, you can tell them to hold a funny face so that you can look inside their mouth. This will make visits to the dentist fun, rather than scary.
Don’t Tell Children It Won’t Hurt if it Will
One sure way to make a child scared of the dentist forever is promising that ‘it won’t hurt at all’ or ‘you won’t even feel it’ before even the slightest bit of pain and discomfort. While this might soothe their nerves for a while, the child might never trust the dentist again. This could also make them even more nervous about future appointments.
Rather than downplay discomfort, help to explain it in terms they will understand. Warn them that something might hurt by comparing it to a small pinch and assuring them that it will be over in a matter of seconds.
Create Distractions and Give Plenty of Praise
Unlike adult clients, children can be easily distracted. As a dental assistant, you could give them a small toy to play with, or challenge them to count backwards from 100 to 0 in their head. If you give them something else to focus on, they might forget that they were scared of the dentist in the first place.
In addition, children will be receptive to praise. Tell them that they’ve been very brave after an appointment and maybe reward them with a sticker. This will help them to see the appointment as something that was fun, so they’ll be less scared for their next visit.
Do you want to become a dental assistant?
Contact Discovery Community College for more information!