3 tips for treating children from award-winning pediatric dentist

Dr. Paul Casamassimo is the winner of the 2017 Norton M. Ross Award, which is presented to those whose research has significantly impacted some aspect of clinical dentistry. Dr. Casamassimo spent more than two decades as the chair of the division of pediatric dentistry and community oral health at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry in Columbus, Ohio, and treating children is one of his passions.

xxxxx_NDC_Blog_IMG_0093It’s no secret treating a child can be difficult. “Technically and strategically, practicing dentistry is difficult, and that’s before adding an additional variable in like a child who may or may not be willing and able to accept treatment,” he said. Still, Dr. Casamassimo said it can be very rewarding.

Without further ado, here are Dr. Casamassimo’s three tips for treating children:

1. Encourage parents to bring children in early

As all dentists know, prevention is key, but this especially applies to children. If their first visit to the dentist is positive one, they’ll know what to expect next time they’re in the office. But if their first dental visit is because they’re experiencing pain and a dentist must perform more extensive treatment, it could lead the child to associate the dentist with discomfort. “It’s vital for parents to bring their child to visit a dentist around their first birthday,” Dr. Casamassimo said.

2. Distract the child

“To be a pediatric dentist, it’s almost a perquisite to know cartoons, comics, sports, pop stars and Disney movies,” Dr. Casamassimo said. Discussing these topics can spur a conversation with a child and make them more comfortable, while distracting them from the dental procedure itself.

3. Reward the child

“I always try to reinforce positive behavior with both the child and their parents,” Dr. Casamassimo said. Rewards like stickers can cap off a productive trip to the dentist and reinforce that the child did a good job and that they should behave similarly next time. “If you have an office that distracts and rewards young patients, it can become a pleasant experience for them. I’ve had patients who didn’t want to leave and asked their parents when they can go back to the dentist,” Dr. Casamassimo said.

Dr. Casamassimo acknowledged that working with children can be challenging, but he said it’s something dentists should embrace.

“Dentists should be willing to do all sorts of procedures and even be open to taking on some things that they may not have enjoyed in dental school, but are necessary when working with the general population,” Dr. Casamassimo said.

“Dentistry is fun,” he continued. “And working with kids can be fun. When you receive a hug from a child after performing a procedure, it makes it all worth it.”

25 comments

  • I like that you mentioned how good pediatric dentists will have distractions for the kids. One thing I have noticed in the past is TV’s on the ceiling for the kids to watch when being worked on. When my wife and I choose a dentist we will keep this in mind because of our little ones.

  • Thanks again for all the tips on how to help your kids not be scared of the dentist. One thing that you mentioned that I really enjoyed was about distracting your kids and bringing up a conversation to get their mind off of the visit. My son is really nervous about his first visit to the dentist and so I will make sure to talk to him about his favorite cartoons. Thanks again!

  • I like your advice in bringing your child for an appointment with the dentist at an early age to eliminate their fear or anxiety. Some children associate going to the dentist with pain and discomfort. This is why it’s important for parents to educate their children that this is actually in their best interest. It is recommended to bring your kids for a visit to the dentist as early as one year old. This way, they would no longer have to worry about future visits. Thanks.

  • I appreciate the tip to bring children in early to a children’s dentist, especially around their first birthday. My youngest is quickly approaching the age of one, and I should start looking to get him to a dentist. Rewarding my child to reinforce in a positive light is also something I’ll be sure to do when going to the dentist.

  • I want to make sure that I get the right dentist for my kids. I agree that it would be a good idea to find one that is qualified! Maybe I should ask my friends and family for referrals.

  • Dr. Paul Casamassimo is fully committed to his passion, being a dentist is not easy specially dealing with children who has trauma on visiting the Dentist. I appreciate the tips, bringing the children as early as possible and let them understand how important it is to have strong nice teeth.

  • I like the idea of using stickers as a reward for good behavior at an important. Kids love stickers and will more than likely stay quiet and cooperative for one in the end. Thanks for teaching me a little about how to treat kids.

  • Thanks Loved all the styles, you said it right, Dentistry is fun,” he continued. “And working with kids can be fun. When you receive a hug from a child after performing a procedure, it makes it all worth it.”

  • These are great suggestions for dentists planning on working with kids. I particularly like what you said about using knowledge of cartoons, comics, or current celebrities to distract the kids. My son loves talking about Pokemon, so we found a dentist who could engage in conversation with him, I’m sure he would feel right at home.

  • I agree that prevention is key, especially when dealing when children. My sister’s son has a toothache and doesn’t like seeing doctors. My mom suggested going to a children dentist and shared this article with her.

  • I appreciate you talking about bringing your child in early to prevent severe problems within their mouth. My older sister is looking to hire a good pediatrics dentistry for her two boys. I think I will talk to her about taking them in regularly to try and avoid big problems.

  • To create awareness among the children and encourage them to be cautious about their oral care award winning system is another way. Inspected some aspect of clinical dentistry dentists are doing their research from several years. As all dentists know, prevention is key they tried their best to do proper treatment of the children with out any hurt.

  • I’ve been looking for some pediatric dentistry options in our area, and I’d love some tips. I’m glad you talked about being able to distract the child, which I think is a big part of getting their dentistry work done. I’m going to have to look for a good pediatric dentist and see what I can find!

  • My brother was calling me the other day worried about taking his kids to a pediatric dentist. He is nervous because he wants them to be okay while also getting good care. I will let him know that a good trick is to reward them and reinforce positive behavior.

  • I like how you point out that a good child dentist will know about things like sports, Disney movies, and cartoons so that they talk about those things with them and help them feel comfortable. My daughter needs to start going to a dentist because all of her teeth have grown in. I’ll have to find one like you describe to take her so that she’ll be comfortable while getting her teeth looked at.

  • I like what you said about distracting the child with other things that are separate from the dental procedure and rewarding them for having a productive trip to the dentist. My kids are always complaining when we go to the dentist and I think little things like this can really turn the experience around from a negative one to a positive one. I’ll have to keep these tips in mind next time I take my kids to a dentist!

  • That makes sense to distract a child. You don’t want them to be worried about the procedure. I bet that that’s something parents look for in a doctor as well.

  • My wife and I are expecting a baby soon and I wanted to do some research on why we need a pediatrician for our future baby. I really liked the insight on the full spectrum of what a pediatrician does, including advising parents on proper diet, physical exercise, and mental development. I am glad that there will be someone who will advise me and my wife on some good practices for raising our child!

  • I am so thankful for what you have shared about a pediatric dentist. My granddaughter is really shy and it’s a problem for us in bringing her to the dentist. However, I found it interesting when you said that rewarding a child while being treated is really fun. So, I guess that’s it!

  • Great article! Very helpful tips for kids and parents to have the best experience at the dentist. Very well written and it shows that you care about your patient. Thank you!!

  • These tips are not only great for dentists to learn, but they also could help people choose the dentist that will best care for their children. Personally, I would love to take my children to a dentist who can distract them and make them more comfortable while they’re at the dentist. I’ll make sure that I choose a pediatric dental care specialist who makes my children feel comfortable and has a reward system in place that will reinforce good behavior.

  • I figured that treating a child could be difficult because parenting is also difficult! I want to look for a good pediatric dentist who will help my child have good teeth. I think one of those ways is rewards. I agree that positive behavior should be reinforced and rewarded. I hope to find a dentist who will do that.

  • I would love a children’s dentist if the dentist were able to distract my kids so they don’t freak out. I have a really hard time trying to calm them down or distract them. I don’t know that much about cartoons and stuff so I will be looking for a dentist who can connect with them.

  • I love that you mentioned rewarding the child to reinforce positive behavior. This is a wonderful way to make sure that you are not scaring your kids. My sister would love this tip as she gets ready to take her kids to a dentist.

  • Great tips by professional. What about the tools. Is electric toothbrush better than classic one for kids?

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