Treating children

Dentists are changing their attitudes and offices to treat kids

Feb 2nd, 2005

Is your dental office a child-friendly zone? The February issue of AGD Impact explores ways some dentists are facilitating relationships between themselves and their youngest patients.

General dentists feel it is important to establish good oral health habits at a young age. In order to make children more comfortable, some offices provide books, video games, access to television and movies, and other entertainment. Others have specific children's corners-separate, contained child play areas.

Dentists have adopted age-appropriate treatment protocol such as using special language and seeing children during certain hours to prevent anxiety and ease the relationship between themselves and their patients.

Some dentists allow parents into treatment rooms because the presence of a family member, such as a sibling or parent, can provide reassurance to anxious children. Others find they have a better doctor patient relationship when they work directly with the child.

"The parents and extended family [can] tell the children things that they shouldn't, which can increase the fear a child has of the dentist," says Cheryl Watson-Lowry, DDS. "They'll say we're going to the dentist, don't worry it's not going to hurt. Well, if you take them to the library, you don't say, 'Don't worry, it's not going to hurt.'"

Although most general dentists treat patients of all ages, not every office is designed to accommodate children. Offices that mainly cater to adults, such as those offering spa dentistry services, sometimes refer children to periodontists.

However, for young dentists and in new practices, children can be indispensable; they often form the basis of patient recruitment. "Most parents bring their children to me first for treatment," says Dominique Lizzio, DDS. "I guess they feel if we treat their child well and don't hurt their child then they can find confidence in us to come to us themselves."

For additional information on children's oral health care, please visit the AGD's Web site, To locate a dentist in your area or request a free oral and overall health care brochure, consumers across the U.S. and Canada can call toll-free 1-877-2X-A-YEAR (1-877-292-9327).

The AGD is a non-profit organization of more than 37,000 general dentists dedicated to staying up-to-date in the profession through continuing education. A general dentist is the primary care provider for patients of all ages and is responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, management and overall coordination of services related to a patient's oral health.

More in Patient Education