5 Important Tips in Time Management of Paediatric Dental Patients

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The practice of modern paediatric dentistry requires the delivery of quality care in combination with excellent business and time management principles. A definite appointment schedule should be planned and presented to the parents in advance and it should be followed to the best of the professional abilities. But it can be tricky while dealing with children in a dental office. Sometimes they are nervous, crying, or throwing tantrums as they don’t know what to expect in the dental setting. They might be accompanied by an anxious parent, which can make managing the patient even more challenging. Moreover, children know nothing about staying on schedule. They tend to take their own time to get comfortable in a dental clinic. It won’t matter if the next patient is in five minutes or if we are already 30 minutes behind. But by implementing a few tricks, we can not only create a positive dental experience for them but also stay on track without losing too much time; after all, we are all on a tight schedule!

1.First and foremost important thing is the way the child has been scheduled.

Behaviour management plan along with chronological age should be considered while devising and presenting the treatment plan schedule to the parents.[1] The interaction time between dentists, parents, and patients should also be included. Also, the receptionist should also be prepared with the relevant information to justify the time of scheduling.

a. Morning appointments are preferable for young patients as they are fresh and active. The length of the appointment should be as short as possible; preferably not greater than 30 minutes.

b. The children should not be made to wait too long in the waiting room as they tend to get restless with passing time. Long waits for appointments decrease patient satisfaction.[2]

2. Staying calm and relaxed: Though it may sound the opposite but being calm and relaxed during the appointments can go a long way in alleviating a child’s fear. Sometimes, we make the mistake of “getting down to business too quickly” as we have a tight schedule to follow. But it is important to create a positive dental experience for the child. Take your time, try to have a relaxed demeanour, and remember to be “positive.” There is no way for “cute” terminology, reasonable treatment planning, judicious sedation, or distraction techniques to overcome the negative assumption that “children are a problem.” Your patient will notice any stress or negative signals that you are giving off and will possibly internalize them making the management of child even more difficult.

3. The most important part in paediatric dental practice is behaviour management of the child. It saves the time of not only dentists but also parents and children. Some of the important ways to do that include:

a. Tell, show, do:

– Provide running commentary to the child about the procedure is a good distraction technique. It is really helpful as it prepares the child to anticipate what might come next and thus eases their anxiety.

The language used should be age-appropriate and positive, so that nothing comes as a surprise.

– Give the child a chance to process and ask any questions he or she might have about what you are explaining. This way you have taken away any questions that the child has had about the new task, and now the child can start to relax and begin to trust you.

b. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar – or in other words “Giving praise,” “showing appreciation” is very important.

It’s also important to be specific in our praise, since they may not know what they are doing right? We can say things such as, “Great job keeping your mouth wide open like I asked you to or thank you for sitting so still while I clean your teeth. Kids love to be praised and to feel like they are being helpful.

c. Giving choices.

If you’re trying to win children over, giving them options is one way to do it. This makes them feel like they have more control and are more likely to comply. For Example: Which type of toothpaste flavour do they fancy: strawberry or bubble gum? Which colour drape they would like to wear? Another great example is while dealing with a child who is on the verge of giving up. Continuously pushing a child into doing something that he or she is clearly not ready would only add more stress to the situation. So, let the child know that it is completely up to him or her whether to take the radiograph. At the same time give emphasis on the fact that you would really appreciate him or her being your big helper and if they allow to take the “picture.”

4. Developing Technical Skills:

Another imperative facet in paediatric dentistry is the technical skills. Today’s paediatric dental practitioner should be clinically astute and knowledgeable about patient’s needs and demands, rules about third party participation (in case of procedures done under GA at a Hospital), and so forth, aspects which may not have been taught in a dental school.

It’s never too late to learn new skills or just polish your acquired skills as it will ensure quality care for our patients. Continuing Education Programs keeps us upgraded with the latest evidence-based practice methodologies. This helps us with quick diagnosis and gives us immense confidence in the treatment that we provide. With the on-going pandemic situation and upsurge in online programs, dental professionals can search far and wide for the best dental seminars to attend. The convenience and ease of access are some of the major reasons why more and more dental professionals are continuing to participate in on-going dental education programs. Some of these programs are quite affordable when compared with other continuing education programs out there.

(Look for the best Upcoming Pedodontics Courses by PEDOVISION)

5) Last but not the least be flexible.

Children are naturally unpredictable and it’s no different when they step into a dental office. Some children need more time to warm up to the idea of letting someone, particularly a stranger, look into their mouth. Consider changing your approach when the child is showing signs of hesitation. By investing your patience, time, and care into the children, you will be amazed by the progress that can be made in such a short amount of time.


References:

[1]D. Gupta and B. Denton, “Appointment scheduling in health care: challenges and opportunities,” IIE Transactions (Institute of Industrial Engineers), vol. 40, no. 9, pp. 800–819, 2008.

[2] F. Dexter, “Design of appointment systems for pre-anesthesia evaluation clinics to minimize patient waiting times: a review of computer simulation and patient survey studies,” Anesthesia & Analgesia, vol. 89, no. 4, pp. 925–931, 1999.

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