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.”

7 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.

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