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Children’s Behavior At The Dentist

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A topic I am interested in is causes of children’s behavior at the dentist and management. This topic has led me to research more about it and has led me to write this paper. I will consider children’s anxiety/behavior in the dental setting and will describe the nature of dental anxiety and its implications for the child patient and the dental team. It will also describe a variety of management strategies. I will also talk about the way in which the child copes with the stressor at the dentist is related to individual experiences, as well as those of the parents parenting especially.

A child’s development and their life experiences all come into play in order to better understand and give the explanation why children react differently to dental treatment. The parents influence is in the fact where in bringing up and growing of their offspring the children learn from and imitate their parents (and also their confrontation patterns and coping skills with stressful situations, including rationalization and relaxation). Dental anxiety is the single most important predictor of children’s behavior in the dental setting and that there are strong associations between dental anxiety and perceived un-cooperative and problem behaviors. The involvement of the child’s parents should also be a key consideration. Parents can learn about helpful and unhelpful approaches for managing their child’s anxious symptoms and behaviors. Strategies can be used to enhance trust, increase feelings of control and develop coping skills in children with dental anxiety. It is clearly imperative that the dental team identifies and works with children who exhibit signs of dental anxiety from an early stage.

The first thing I want to elaborate on is on understanding children’s dental anxiety. Common anxieties among kids include fearing the mysterious and being worried regarding a lack of manage-both of which can happen with dental assessment and treatment. Dental fear represents a normal emotional reaction to a specific threatening external dental stimuli, dental anxiety represents a general state in which the individual experiences a level of apprehension and is prepared for something negative to happen and dental phobia is a severe type of dental anxiety that may result in avoidance or endurance of the dental experience with major discomfort. Of course dental fear can come from past experiences too. For example, the dentist runs a prophylaxis brush over a 8-year-old’s teeth and he has gingivitis, so it bleeds. As the dentist accidentally clips the gum it may be uncomfortable. The child says, “That hurts.” To which the dentist (and sometimes the mother) reply, “Oh, no it doesn’t. It can’t. It’s just an electric toothbrush.” For some children, this can be traumatic.

It implies to them that their experience is wrong/unheard. They are thinking “But I told you it hurts and why don’t you believe me?” This creates no trust between the dentist and child and of course fear. Also, children who had negative experiences, connected with prior hospital visits or medical treatment could be more anxious regarding dental treatment. While taking medical history, it is important to enquire the parents about earlier treatments and the child’s reaction to them. Assessing the nature of a child’s anxiety is extremely important in determining the most appropriate and effective management strategy.

Another factor that comes into play with children at the dentist is assessing behavior management. Behavior management can reduce the patient’s anxiety in the long-term. Strategies can be used to enhance trust, increase feelings of control and develop coping skills in children with dental anxiety. For example, whatever thing that the child finds enjoyable or satisfying can act as an optimistic reinforcer, badges or stickers are frequently used at the end of a successful appointment. Though, most powerful reinforcers are social stimuli, such as verbal praise, positive voice modulation, and facial expression. Praising the child on how good they are doing can reduce their anxiety.

Other behavior management is creating distractions. This is one of the biggest child behavior managements. Distraction intends to move the attention of the patient’s attention away from the treatment procedure. This could be in the form of singing, reading, and watching a video. Dentists also speak to the child while doing treatment so that the patient pays attention to them rather than focusing on the treatment they are actively doing. Other distractions include, pulling on the cheek or lip and chatting to the patient when applying local anesthesia. Pre-appointment preparations such as encouraging children to view audio-visual products and audio-visual distractions are techniques which have also been used to help relax children and reduce their anxiety levels.

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Lastly, children’s parent’s parenting. Surprisingly, this impacts the way a child behaves at the dentist. It is well known that parents form their children’s behavior from the moment of

their birth. During preschool development, children learn what kinds of behavior are acceptable and/or forbidden. There is an indirect learning process whereby patients develop effective coping skills by observing other people (parents) for successfully receiving dental treatment. In that said, parents parenting can affect children’s behavior at the dentist. In that upbringing process, there are four types of parenting styles. The division is formed regarding parents demands and the expected responsibilities of their children.

There are four types of parenting styles. The first one is, authoritative parenting. In this parenting style, parents have high demands towards their children, yet in addition demonstrate incredible obligation to them. They set clear benchmarks for their youngsters and have introduced limits. They expect mature and age related conduct from their youngsters. This sort of parenting style produces self-assured kids, who are glad, competent and successful. In the dental office they show ordinary kid conduct.

The second parenting style is, authoritarian parenting. This is characterized with high demands towards their children, without any duty for high responsibility. Parents set elevated expectations and also set rules without much clarification. They only expect the respect and achieving the results from their children. If expectations are not accomplished, parents tend to punish their children as opposed to clarify the explanations behind discipline, or to break down kid conceivable outcomes and requirements. Children of rigorous parents have less self-assurance, since they are utilized to be determined what the correct decision is for them, and how to act. In the dental office they for the most part act like the continued or now and again startled or frightened child.

The third type of parenting style is permissive parenting. This is portrayed with high self-obligation, yet weak demands towards their child. Permissive parents are very included in their children upbringing, they don’t define the limits and satisfy each child’s request. They don’t request situational proper practices, and they let their kids to do everything. Kids have no motivation to figure out how to control their conduct, and they generally hope to get what they need, and furthermore show the issues with specialists. These sort of children act in the dental office in uncontrolled way.

The fourth and last type of parenting style is uninvolved parenting. This style shows low requests towards their kids and low requirement for self-obligation in the child’s upbringing. The parents for the most part would prefer not to include in their kids’ lives and don’t define the limits. They additionally don’t think about their child’s assessments and feeling as significant ones, and they don’t offer any sort of enthusiastic help. These children show absence of self-assurance, poise and capability identified with their friends. They can communicate different types of conduct in the dental office, including startled, pretentious and sustained.

There is a need to explore the extent and exact nature of understanding a child’s dental anxiety. Behavior management is agreed to be a key factor supplying dental care for children. Certainly, if a child’s behavior in the dental office cannot be managed then it is not easy if not unworkable to hold out any dental care that is needed. It is essential that any approach to behavioral management for the dental child patient have to be rooted in compassion and a worry for the well-being of each child. The relationships between child dental anxiety, child temperament (behavioral inhibition), parental dental anxiety and general anxiety, parenting style and intrusive parenting are complex and all come into play with a child’s dental experience.

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Children’s Behavior At The Dentist. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved August 17, 2022, from
“Children’s Behavior At The Dentist.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
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