Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Without intervention, this infectious disease can cause lasting impacts on total health and quality of life, even into adulthood.
While “brush and clean in between to build a healthy smile” is good advice for any age and at any time, February is both National Children’s Dental Health Month and Gum Disease Awareness Month. By encouraging little patients and their parents to take an active role in preventive care and by creating comfortable dental visits, your team can help establish good lifelong oral health habits.
Here are a few opportunities to build smiles with kid-friendly products and protocols:
Remind parents to check their children’s mouths.
Too often, the importance of “baby teeth” is dismissed or the signs of periodontal disease are overlooked by parents. In addition to ensuring their children are brushing and flossing consistently, parents should be on the lookout for gums that are bleeding, swollen, bright red or receding from the teeth, as well as bad breath.
Make visits a show-and-do experience.
Reduce young patients’ anxiety by telling them in small steps everything you will be doing at the visit in small steps before you actually perform a procedure. Show them first and then let them try for themselves. For example, explain that the doctor will be looking at his or her teeth with a mouth mirror. Then, have the child hold the mirror and try to look at his or her own teeth or the teeth on a stuffed animal.
Use fun names for unfamiliar items.
Further set kids at ease by replacing dental lingo with age-appropriate descriptors. A lead apron can be a superhero cape worn in front, a saliva ejector can be Mr. Thirsty, cavities can be sugar bugs and a high-speed handpiece can be a race car that’s going to chase those bugs away. Cultivate an environment of positive energy that relays a positive message that says, “We’re going to do this and everything will be OK. Let’s have fun together.”
Choose fun and bright dental supplies.
While your goody bags likely already include sparkle paste, colorful brushes, stickers and fun flossers to take home, there are plenty of other supplies to use in the office that kids will love. Check out animal-themed bibs that act as costumes, adorable prophy angles and yummy prophy pastes with cute gripping cups.
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