Like adults, pediatric dental patients may experience anxiety when visiting a dentist or undergoing an oral procedure. The heightened stress levels are certainly uncomfortable for the child, but it can also make it difficult for the dentist to complete a needed treatment. Nevertheless, many dentists implement in-office strategies that help alleviate a child's anxiety and make dental appointments more comfortable for them.
Here are a few measures that your child's dentist may take to quell the little one's dental fears.
The human body tends to react to certain activities, such as deep breathing, by relaxing. If your child is noticeably anxious, the dentist may have the youngster complete a series of deep-breathing exercises. The child is simply asked to inhale deeply and then slowly exhale.
The dentist may also have your child blow bubbles. The prolonged exhalation is promoted as the child blows air through the hole in the bubble wand. Not only is the child encouraged to release stress during the exhalation, but the bubbles also offer a pleasant distraction.
Another relaxation technique that some dentists use is the releasing and tensing of muscles. The child may be asked to tense certain muscle groups or areas of their body tightly before releasing them. The cycle of muscular tension and relaxation also alleviates stress.
Although some dentists may be uncomfortable having a parent sit chair-side throughout a youngster's dental treatment, others actually use the parental involvement to help lessen the child's stress level. Having a comforting authority in the room may help the child feel more at ease during the appointment. Many children simply feel more comfortable with a parent nearby.
Additionally, a dentist can have the parent pretend to be a patient as the provider describes the procedure that the child will undergo. As the parent sits calmly while the dentist explains and pretends to perform the treatment, the child sees their role model behaving calmly and learns what to expect during the procedure.
Children often respond well to positive reinforcement in the form of small rewards. Stickers and small toys can encourage a child to behave in a desirable manner throughout their treatment. Additionally, the toys or trinkets provide a positive experience for the little one.
Although some providers offer a singular reward, other dentists may employ a cumulative reward approach through a point system. Points may be allotted for positive behaviors throughout the treatment. At the end of the appointment, the points can be tallied and used to purchase a small toy or treat from a little treasure chest.
To learn more about family dentist services and how they can help your child, contact professionals in your area.