Pediatric dentistry is in the spotlight. In the past years there has been a valorization of this specialty, that goes far beyond the dentistry technique and turns the dentist into a friend. In order that the proposed treatment becomes a reality, it being a preventive/ educational treatment or a therapeutic/ rehabilitation treatment, the pediatric dentist has to live and actually belong to the children’s world.
Childhood as we know today, was a lot different for many years in our history. The children were present physically, but were not consider little human beings with their own specificities and rights . After that, the idea of “standard childhood” was introduced, where children were neither approach as mini adults nor approached with the recognition of the great diversity childhood present or seen as something they will become. Today, the way we see the children is as a human being now, and we should not limit this little human being to the idea of what it will become. We must remember that our little patient is not passive in relation to its own development process .
Believing in this new look on the childhood, the pediatric dentistry has also been reinvented e is now a partner of the child, bringing to the dental office the humanization, education, welcoming and care with the quality of the children’s life, always associated with a evidence based clinical approach.
Today we know that the way the children and their parents express themselves should direct their relationship with the dentist and the dental team and that this builds solider relations . Good communication must be priority, this way optimizing the relationship and consequently enabling better dental approaches. Make things short: if you understand and communicate well with the children and their family, the dental session occurs in a more peaceful way and the composite restoration that needs to be done achieves a great result! But keep in mind that, for that to happen, the dentist must be up to date with the children’s universe, accordingly to each step of the development of the children, considering personal experiences as well as experiences from the dental team and family . There’s no doubt that when the dentist is not touched by the children’s universe there’s no way of gaining children’s comprehension. For years, it was believed that the dental office should be a place with the exclusive focus on reestablishing health, and that, if necessary, children would have to face unpleasant procedures if needed even if they didn’t agree with that. To do so, different behavior management techniques were frequently used, like “hand-over-mouth” . Nowadays, we can use some psychological resources (like drawings, for example) that shows us the fears or concerns of the children  and, this way, we can try to approach those fears so we have the child and family’s agreement in a much healthier and easier way.
The child should not be seen as a “mini-adult” but as a human being in constant evolution and development. For that, it is necessary to keep in mind that every childhood phase is different and dealing with every phase is of major importance so that we achieve the ideal relationship based on trust and good acceptance of the treatment.
Playing is very important so that this good relationship can be established among all the people involved in a pediatric dentistry appointment. Through games, playing, drawings and other joyful activities the children are able to express their fears, and that happens unconsciously . Playing gives the children the opportunity of choosing the language that they rather, making them active agents on their own treatment. A mock appointment using toys is highly recommended, because it makes it possible for the children to be familiarized with the dental practice and also makes it easier the learning process so that they can face their fears. Based on that, having a place for children to play in the dental office in necessary. Having fun with the process is associated with good feelings, acting as a positive reinforcement.
Besides, being close to the children’s universe through games represents a more efficient (and joyful) way to perform a dental intervention .
An important feature that can turn the appointment into a joyful experience is not to wear white clothes – that can be traditionally associated with dentistry – and replace them by colorful lab coats with characters that come from the children’s universe. Nowadays there is a huge amount of colored gloves, hats, masks and even instruments. After all, who does not like to realize that every single part of theappointment was carefully planed and arranged.
Psychology shows us that the environment plays a major role in the human development . That’s why the pediatric dentistry offices should be filled with characters and images taken from the children’s universe, providing a better relationship between the dentist and the patient. No doubts that the environment says a lot about the dentist and his/her team and represents the different ways the patient and family can relate to the dentist. Having a well planned environment, full of elements taken from the children’s day-to- day life, makes children face adverse situations more easily .
It is clearly very important to be up to date and familiar with children’s world, but we can not forget about new technologies, that come as an additional facet of this new way to face the children’s universe. Using games, computers with virtual networking and having wi-fi in the waiting room show the patient and the family that the dentist is aware of what is interesting to them. Being active in the social medias is also a factor that connects dentists and patients in their real life outside the office. Apart from that, it promotes a straight line of communication between the little (or not so little) patient and the dentist. Many times, the children get in touch, to tell that they stop using the pacifier or that their baby tooth has fallen, and that will show that these patients are “100% in”!
All these conducts, performed with a lot of science and love, are the warranty of a beginning of a pleasant and successful “dental life”, where children and family, as long as the whole dental team, know they are going to have fun! After all, going to the dentist should be a nice and easy experience!
Gabriela dos Santos Pinto
Speacialist in Pediatric Dentistry – UFSC
MS in Children’s Health – PUCRS
PhD in Dentistry (Pediatric Dentistry) - UFPel
Professor of Pediatric Dentistry - FASURGS
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My purpose is to help you gain autonomy through knowledge, facilitating the dentistry and communication. AND how do I do this?
I put myself in your shoed, I identify what is preventing you from being happy with your results and untie the knots by means of a simple and accessible language! I graduated from UNESP | Araçatuba; did my Master and PhD in Operative Dentistry at UNESP Araraquara | I am a Professor of Operative Dentistry at the Federal University of Pelotas | RS.
Jul, 27th 2015