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    10 ways to simplify pediatric dentistry

    How to make pediatric dentistry easier on patients, parents and you.

    Children can be trouble in the dental chair. From toddlers to teenagers, all of the age groups have different challenges. W.C. Fields, an actor and entertainer from the early 1900s, once said, “Never work with animals or children.” Pediatric dentists, general practitioners, specialists and hygienists alike may have days where they see the wisdom in Fields’s words.

    “When kids are relaxed and compliant, dentistry can be simple and fast. When they are not, that becomes a very different type of challenge,” says Dr. Jason Goodchild, DMD, director of clinical affairs for Premier Dental Products Company.

    Common issues when treating children

    The most common problems dental professionals face when working with children are behavior and fear management. Uncooperative children, especially demonstrative ones, parked in the chair can have detrimental effects on your practice experience.

    Related reading: 8 ways to get kids to care about dental hygiene

    “When you have a screaming child in the back operatory, everyone can hear it. It certainly can affect the energies of everyone in the office,” says Katrina M. Sanders, RDH, a dental hygiene educator and international speaker.

    Dr. Jeffrey Lineberry, DDS, is a private practice dentist and educator in Mooresville, North Carolina. He agrees that uncooperative children can disrupt the patient flow.

    “If you are trying to do a procedure on a pediatric patient and you are having behavioral issues, then it slows the procedure way down and you get behind, and it snowballs from there,” Dr. Lineberry says.

    Ramifications of poor early dental experiences

    Pediatric dentistryThe stakes are high in pediatric dentistry. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that all children establish a dental home by their first birthday, a time when children are notoriously difficult to manage. When those early experiences are negative, it can have repercussions for the rest of the child’s life.

    Dr. Nathaniel Lawson, DMD, Ph.D., division director of the division of biomaterials at the UAB School of Dentistry, doesn’t treat children anymore but sees the effect of poor dental experiences in his adult patients.

    “I still see adults that come in who had a bad experience early in their life that now gives them dental anxiety. Sometimes, they delay treatment. They will delay a filling to the point that they need a root canal because they didn’t want to come into the dentist,” Dr. Lawson says.

    More from the author: Delivering patient-friendly injections with The Wand

    Dr. Lineberry says delaying treatment to the point where there’s a significant problem only reinforces the cycle of fear.

    “When adults delay treatment and the problem worsens, we have to do more of the challenging, difficult and more expensive procedures because we are either trying to save a tooth or replacing a tooth,” Dr. Lineberry explains.

    Without a doubt, practicing pediatric dentistry takes, well, practice. Also, some good advice from people who know best. We spoke with several industry experts to learn how they address the challenges they encounter when practicing pediatric dentistry. Here’s what they had to say.

    Up next: 10 ways to simplify pediatric dentistry...

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