“Getting Your Little Ones off to a Great Start”
Our method of effective communications with your child ensures his/her visit is as pleasant as possible. We want to start off in a positive way with your little one to ensure they continue taking care of their teeth throughout their lives.
Starting out on the right foot is very important to your child’s dental future.
So many adult patients have a negative association with the dentist because of bad childhood experiences. We will do everything we can to prevent this from happening to your child. Depending on your child’s cognitive abilities and/or special needs, we may use one or more of the following proven effective methods of interaction and communication with to create a positive experience.
Infants: Be Aware of “Nursing Bottle Decay”-- a heart-breaking occurrence, as the cavities must be treated in a hospital setting. On-Demand Breast Feeding can also cause increased decay in the baby teeth, because the sugars and acids are bathing the teeth so frequently, the saliva is unable to neutralize the acids, and the plaque flourishes. If a bottle is given at bedtime, it should only contain WATER, and be removed from the mouth as soon as the child falls asleep. After any kind of milk feeding, the mouth should be wiped out with a moist washrag. Baby teeth have much thinner enamel and larger pulps, so are far more vulnerable to a rapidly-moving cavity resulting in pain, infection and loss of the tooth.
Toddlers should never be given anything but WATER in a bottle or sippy cup. Juices have high acid content and are as damaging as soda pop. Fortunately, today’s Fluoride Treatments are perfectly safe for both infants and Toddlers, and quick and easy to apply! If your little one feeds frequently, we are happy to do a complimentary Infant/Toddler 1st Exam and apply a Fluoride Varnish to their teeth.
START EARLY, especially when you feel the child is apprehensive about doctors or dentists! The timing of the FIRST DENTAL VISIT is usually sometime between the age of 2-3. Sometimes there is a fall or bump to the mouth or teeth. Always feel free to call us when this occurs and you have concerns about the teeth. Dr Holm’s cell phone number is on our voicemail. (Unlike large clinics, in our small helpful practice, you get to speak directly to your own family dentist in an emergency situation! Service when it really counts!)
When we start early, we can usually get to know your child better and building trust over many positive visits, and confidence needed to do more sophisticated procedures, like x-rays and sealants needed by age 5 or 6. It is counter-productive to wait until there is a problem and treatment has to be performed with no relationship in place. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends 6 month checkups should start before your child turns 1 year old. This gives your child the gift of a solid comfort level with the dentist that will last a lifetime.
We Tell, We Show and We Do
First, we TELL your child about the procedure or technique we’re about to perform. We make sure that we take your child’s age and developmental level into account as well as any previously known fears or concerns you may have conveyed to us. Then we SHOW your child through demonstration what we’re going to do. Finally, we DO the procedure without deviating from what your child was TOLD or SHOWN. This is important in developing trust which is the basis of any good relationship.
This is a great way to teach and familiarize your child with common procedures in pediatric dentistry. As well, we’re able to take the “fear of the unknown” away by letting them know exactly what we’re about to do. This method is best used for routine exams and non-invasive procedures such as cleaning or minor restoration.
It’s All in the Voice
It’s important to realize that we may use voice control to achieve an appropriate response from your child. On occasion, at a moment crucial to a procedure, we may speak firmly to insure that your child listens carefully and responds appropriately. We will use voice deflections in order to gain your child’s attention and compliance. It’s also crucial to develop a clear “One of us is the grown up, one of us is the child” relationship in order to avoid negative behavior that could jeopardize your child’s safety during procedures.
What We SAY is Echoed by What We DO
Body language and facial expression should match what we say to your child. You know that if you’re worried about something, no amount of “It’ll be okay” is going to calm your child if you have a nervous expression on your face. The same holds true for us. We remain calm no matter how concerned your child may be so that we can reinforce their perception that it really will be okay!
Positive Reinforcement with Smiles, Praise and Prizes!
We’ve known for a long time that positive reinforcement reigns supreme over traditional authoritarian punishment practices. The same is true for your child’s dental visits. We use voice deflection, facial expressions and prizes to reinforce your child’s positive behavior. We give your child choices, which kids love: color of toothbrush, flavor of tooth-paste and fluoride. The little things count for kids and we do those things with enthusiasm that is contagious.
Good Old Distraction
When in doubt, distract! There may be times in pediatric dentistry when even the most effective methods of communication do not ease your child’s difficulty with accepting a portion of a procedure or perhaps the entire procedure itself. We give our little patients breaks during lengthy procedures to ease them more gently through the experience. We may chit chat about your child’s favorite hobby or their best buddies. We may use videos or stories to distract your child so that we can finish a procedure. Most decay in primary teeth can be treated without injections of local anesthetic (novocaine.) Nitrous Oxide, or “laughing gas,” can safely relax a child, dulling the sensations and greatly extending the attention span for better cooperation and a comfortable experience. We do what we can to make even the most difficult procedures somewhat enjoyable or at the very least, less negative.
Mom or Dad’s Help
Whether or not you are present for your child’s treatment depends on many factors. We’ve had pediatric patients who sailed through a procedure while Mom and Dad waited outside. We’ve had pediatric patients that really needed Mom or Dad in the room to hold their hand and offer comfort. We’ve had parents who were so nervous about their child’s procedure that their presence began to complicate the procedure.
What Else can YOU do to Help your Child have a GOOD Dental Visits?
- Avoid making negative comments in your home or complain about “having to go to the dentist.” Yes much dental fear is un-intentionally “inherited” from the parents. If you yourself have a pattern of fear, avoidance and negativity about dental visits, your child will pick up on that. Do your best to be “matter-of-fact” in your portrayal of dental visits- just another part of life and taking care of ourselves! Get Your SELF to the dentist and talk about why it is important to you.
- Your facial expressions and body language tell a child more than words alone. If you choose to be in the room for your child’s dental visit- take a seat in the guest chair, and be a “silent partner.” (Do not stand at the foot of the chair wringing your hands with a concerned look on your face.)
- Avoid coaching, admonishing, interjecting or trying to help the dental team. Children can get confused if there is more than one adult in charge. We have also found that the “bigger the audience the better the show” (more acting out), so only one family member should be in the operatory at a time. Your presence alone can be comforting to your child. It is OK to hold your child’s hand, but wait to see if this is needed. They may interpret your action as “here comes something bad to get ready for.”
- Some Words tend to Exacerbate Fears: For example, “Be Brave” is actually not reassuring, and can make your child think there is really something to be afraid about. What works better is a show of confidence in your child: “I know you can do this.”
- We have a nice PRIZE basket and they will enjoy digging through it. It is also great to PRAISE and Celebrate their Successes in some way or with a reward: “I knew you could do it! Let’s celebrate getting those sealants done by going to the park today.”
- We pay close attention to your child’s individual Attention Span and Limits. We will get as much done at each visit as possible, but we don’t want to exceed their limits: “win the battle, but lose the war”, resulting in avoidance of the dentist later in life. You know as parents that your child’s resilience and attention span can vary from day-to-day and even moment –to-moment. We respect that. If we lose cooperation, It may be necessary to come back another day to complete the treatment, so that we can keep your child’s dental experience positive.
By getting to know you and your child, we can develop a relationship that will enable us to take the very best care of your child and create a POSITIVE association with their dental health and treatment.. Call Dr. Dr. Nancy Holm today, at 952-435-3335