Helping the child to accept dental treatment without a negative experience that might influence the way the child views dental treatment and consequently dental health in the future is one of the most important skills that a paediatric dentist must learn.
The successful management of children in dentistry is a team effort with the parent, the dentist, the dental team and the ambience of the clinical environment all playing their part.
Dentist’s Manner and Appearance
A paediatric dentist must like children for a start and be able to communicate at the level of the child’s understanding. Ideas and concepts have to be broken down in terms understood by the child. The use of “childrenese” terms helps explain dental instruments and procedures in a non-threatening manner that is acceptable to most children. Genuine interest in the child’s welfare can be transferred to the child and help them feel more secure and safe. Some personality types are able to do this naturally without thinking, whilst others may have to learn these skills.
It seems that the dentist’s attire is not as important as general cleanliness and neatness. Personal hygiene is most important. However, some children do suffer from “white-coat” syndrome and a dentist wearing child-friendly attire may help alleviate some anxiety.
Protective equipment like facemasks and goggles are accepted well by the patients if worn after a brief explanation of their roles and function. They have less influence on subsequent behaviour.
Building trust with the child and empathy are two most important basic principles of the successful management of a child in a dental environment (Fig. 4.1). A trusting relationship with the dentist increases the child’s acceptance of dental procedures and the success of treatment will further strengthen trust and rapport.
(adapted from Feigal, 2001).
The Dental Environment
The clinical area for childre/>