Baby friendly dental practice


How would you encourage pediatric patients to cooperate during dental procedures?

Pediatric Dentistry
Baby Friendly Initiative Designation taskforce experience
Dental Care
Christine Hope Cuaresma
24 months ago

5 answers


Dentists and auxiliaries use a variety of methods. Most of all it’s getting on the kids level and use voice modulation some distraction techniques, toys annd games. Most kids work well will this. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) also helps to reduce anxiety. At times parents may be recruited to assist in cases where the sound of the parents voice reduces anxiety. Not all kids are cooperative however and require other interventions. Hope this helps.

Neal Johnson
24 months ago
@Neal Johnson, I agree. And in my experience the parents are the once giving anxiety to the pediatric patients. - Christine Hope 24 months ago
Yes that’s an important point. We have had to have some parents sit outside as they were the uncooperative ones:) - Neal 24 months ago
NO2 and anesthesia is a big HUGE profit center. - Dr. David E. 21 months ago

Pediatric dental practice has always been a challenge, much more than pediatric medical practice.
Aside from the "dentist scare" that might had been threatening them, as well as the use of white gowns, telling them to open their mouth and sustain it is difficult.
We have to make the clinic a "play concept environment", have dental chairs that look like animals hugging them, etc. Toys may be used but these should not be too distracting that they loss attention and cooperation. Incorporate "play" and involve significant care givers in the process..
At the end of the day, we really need lots of PATIENCE and longer time.
Give them rewards and encourage to come back and drop by just to say hi.

Christine Hope Cuaresma
24 months ago
Patience is key - Neal 24 months ago
Indeed - Dr. David E. 21 months ago

As a pediatric nurse with 19 years of experience, my best advice is to know the developmental level of your patient and know how to handle them at their level. The example I used with students is the way you interact with a 1 year old, a 3 year old, a 5 year old, a 10 year old and 16 year old are completely different. Keep that in mind when interacting with them! Younger kids need rewards, older kids are curious and may have many questions. Always be honest with kids, it helps to build trust! Kids will be more cooperative if they trust you!!!!

Stacey Lohmeier
24 months ago
Nicely said and true - Dr. David E. 21 months ago

Identify who could be your "partner" in the process. Take a good history who can influence the pediatric patient to cooperate and who has a good rapport with the patient.
The clinic set up is also important. You can have a theme of a "zoo" and have a place for them to play (although it needs more space). The dentist should be friendly, from the first greeting up to the good bye. Voice tone and clarity of voice is important. Know also the interest of your patient so you are able to "enter" into his world and you will be accepted in his world.
Explain the procedure and allow the patient to inspect your instruments (use different instruments for the procedure, of course, consider sterile procedure).
Be truthful, DO not tell it will not hurt, Tell it might be ncomfortable but reassure that the influential person is there.
Touch therapy also works.
Give a gift for being cooperative .
Tell the patient that you are looking forward to see him again

Edna Cuaresma, MD, LlB
24 months ago
Beware widom tooth - third molar extractions! - Dr. David E. 21 months ago

Last month, I wrote an Q&A article for Stroller Traffic, an online journal for young mothers, that may be of some help here, albeit focused on the mom of the patient and not the dentist or hygienist. Here is the link to the article:

Here is the text:

  • What are some suggestions on starting a good oral hygiene routine in the first 12 months? 

Baby teeth begin to erupt at 6 months and are complete by 2.5 years. Unfortunately, tooth eruption makes gums sore and inflamed, leading to unhappy babies. Use a gentle child’s toothbrush as the bristles are designed to be kind to inflamed tissues.

Baby teeth are softer than permanent ones, making them more susceptible to cavities. A full set of teeth is not only necessary to chewing but also to learning correct pronunciation. Diet is key to healthy teeth; limit sugar and starchy foods. 

Brushing baby teeth with plain water using soft toothbrush removes plaque, massages gums, and keeps kids healthy. Brush all sides of the four quadrants of the mouth: upper and lower, right and left, inside and outside. Practicing good oral care early on sets patterns for a lifetime.

  • When should a child begin to see the dentist for exams and cleanings?

Schedule the first dental exam after the baby’s first birthday. Remember, for kids and adults, plaque is not fully removed by brushing and rinsing alone. The dentist or hygienist can remove plaque and tartar, reducing the risk of cavities. Some toothpastes, like ClōSYS, slow the regrowth of plaque as well as strengthen enamel. Ask the dentist how often to visit, as plaque build-up varies from one baby to the next.

When considering dental exams and cleaning, it is important to remember that all efforts by the dentist to combat cavities and gum disease will fail without a regular, twice daily regime of home oral care, including brushing and rinsing. 

  • Once toddlerhood (and a full set of teeth) hits, what does the ideal brushing scenario look like? (length of time, amount of toothpaste, etc.)

At age 2, the child can begin using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride toothpaste will strengthen enamel and protect from cavities. Choose a gentle toothpaste that does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) as it is known to inflame tissues and cause oral sores. ClōSYS Sulfate Free Fluoride Toothpaste, for examples provides anti-cavity protection, halts plaque build-up, and contains no SLS. Consult a dentist or doctor before using fluoride toothpaste with children under 2 years of age.
Your child can also use an oral rinse. Rinsing reaches areas of the mouth not touched by the toothbrush. Use an oral rinses that has a gentle flavor and does not contain alcohol. ClōSYS offers rinses with and without fluoride; either way, they are the gentlest oral care, perfect for your baby’s sensitive mouth. Fluoride rinses are available for children 6 years and older.

Teach your child not to swallow toothpaste or oral rinse. Use a timer to teach your children to brush for 2 minutes and rinse for 30 seconds. Consult with your dentist or doctor before using the fluoride toothpaste or oral rinse with children under 6 years of age. Read “Drug Facts” on the label and follow the instructions when using fluoride toothpaste or fluoride oral rinse.

  • At what age should children be brushing independently?

By age 6 or 7, your children should be able to brush their teeth on their own. It is still a good idea to supervise brushing to make sure that they are spending enough time (2 minutes) to brush all four quadrants inside and out. Good oral hygiene includes both tooth brushing and oral rinsing to prevent cavities and gum disease. Children will continue the pattern of oral health you have established with them so long as the oral care products are gentle and easy for them to use.

  • When should flossing be introduced?

Bacteria convert food, debris, and sugars into a slimy substance called dental plaque. It grows along the gum lines and between teeth. Getting food and debris and plaque from between teeth is difficult. Dental floss used on each tooth can reduce plaque and remove debris. Interdental brushes also reach between teeth and can be dipped in fluoride toothpaste before use to increase prevention and effectiveness. 

Parents should begin helping their children use dental floss and/or interdental brushes between ages 2 to 6. Children should be flossing on their own by age 10.

  • Should children be using fluoride-free toothpaste if they are still swallowing a bit of it?

Proper brushing and rinsing procedures include not swallowing the toothpaste or the oral rinse. Regardless of whether the toothpaste is fluoride-free or with fluoride, less than 10% of the paste is swallowed inadvertently. The same holds for oral rinse: if the child is taught to spit out the oral rinse, less than 10% will be inadvertently swallowed. Read “Drug Facts” on the label and follow the instructions when using fluoride toothpaste and/or rinse.

Jim Ratcliff
24 months ago

Have some input?