How Dental Office Toys Can Help End Children’s Dentist Anxiety?
According to one study, dental fear and anxiety (DFA) are one of the major challenges in pediatric dentistry. It mostly stems from parental dental fear, painful symptoms, or previous bad experiences of dental care.
That said, we can’t help but wonder which are some of the most efficient ways to end or at least reduce children’s dental anxiety. Will popular use of dental office toys really help the youngest patients feel more comfortable during their dental appointments? Perhaps a dentist should approach the problem holistically? Stay tuned, as we’re about to determine whether dentist toys are truly effective in alleviating anxiety, and what else dentists can do to help children deal with it.
What Causes Dental Anxiety in Children and How to Treat It?
Oftentimes, dental anxiety is intertwined with several other phobias, such as fear of strangers, fear of pain, as well as fear of sharp objects (such as professional dental tools). That said, there is no universal cure for it, meaning you need to approach the problem from a few different angles. A pediatric dentist must be prepared to spend more time talking to children, or at least until they are feeling comfortable enough around them. If a kid is relaxed in their office and around their staff, they will be more likely to come again in the future.
What are Dental Office Toys?
Dental office toys are items that are designed in a way to facilitate interaction between doctors and patients. The intention behind them is to make dental visits a better or even entirely bearable experience. They can include anything from fidgets and distraction toys, stickers, therapeutic toys, balloons, capsule toys, education, and plush toys, but the assortment is ever-growing indeed.
How do They Work?
Some of the most common therapeutic toys include fidget spinners, stress balls, and various puzzle cubes that have shown extraordinary results in treating anxiety and other related issues. The best thing about these toys is that they can grab a child’s attention quickly and make them less concerned about their surroundings and more open to cooperation.
You can also prepare a treasure chest with small rewards for successfully finished appointments. These can make a huge difference in alleviating a child’s anxiety as they will have a prize on their mind during the entire treatment. There’s no need to splurge on though; kids will be more than happy to receive something as simple as a sticker or a tooth-shaped balloon. This approach will allow you to win children’s trust and they will think of you as a friend. This is the power of positive reinforcement.
You can even encourage parents to bring their child’s favorite plush toys with them to soothe them and help them remain calm. A familiar item can go a long way in what’s considered a hostile environment.
Cold Scenery Can Also Trigger Anxiety
If possible, you should adjust your dental office so that it is entirely suitable for children. Avoid cold and sterile scenery as this can trigger negative emotions in young patients. There are many waiting room dental toys and elements nowadays you could use to that end, including wall clings, posters, children’s books, or puzzles – these are all positive distractions that will grab kids’ attention and help them to stop worrying about the appointment itself.
Other Ways to Reduce Anxiety in Children
While dental office toys and other accessories can be of immense help when it comes to reducing stress and anxiety, it would be best if you could combine them with other methods for the best possible results. You should always be open and honest with your patients about the impending treatments. Show them your dental equipment and explain to them how will you use it during the appointment. Once you start with the procedure, make sure you perform every step as you previously explained it to them, and it will allow you to gain their trust. You can also arrange some sort of a signal or a safe word a child can use in case of severe discomfort or strong pain. Stop the procedure and continue only once they are feeling comfortable enough. They will feel more in control during the appointment that way.
Dental fear and anxiety in children are very much real and can turn regular dental exams into a living nightmare for everyone, doctors and parents included. It’s the job of every pediatric dentist out there to make their dental office as child-friendly as possible and this is where dental office toys can play a key role. You should combine it with other methods for the best results because dental fears and anxiety are complex issues that can’t be covered with a single approach.
Do you already have dental toys in your office? What’s your experience with using them so far? Share your thoughts and advice below!