Dental Visit Tips For Easily Distracted Kids

Posted on: 19 October 2015


Does your child get a little bit excited at dentist appointments, making it difficult for them to sit still? Or maybe they are struggling with AD/HD, or a similar disorder that makes it hard for them to pay attention or stay focused on directions. Regardless of the cause, the right family dentist can help make your appointments go more smoothly. The following tips can ensure your child gets the dental care they need.

Tip #1: Arrive Early, but Not Too Early

Arriving with 10 to 15 minutes to spare before your appointment gives your child time to adjust to the new surroundings. After 15 minutes, they should have had time to explore the waiting room and check out any toys that are set out for occupying young patients. This way your child won't be interrupted during their exploration to go to the exam room, which will help prevent a division of their attention. The trick is not to arrive so early that your child begins to get bored and fidgety, though. Bring a backup item that you know can quietly engage them, such as a favorite book or a tablet game, just in case the wait drags on longer than you expected.

Tip #2: Ask for Personal Service

Explain the situation to the receptionist upon check in and ask if they will please come out to get you and your child, instead of simply calling their name. Kids with divided attention or an attention disorder respond better when they are spoken to directly – it helps get and maintain their attention. Firm voices and short requests work best but avoid sounding upset.

Tip #3: Schedule in the Morning

A morning appointment often works better because your child is well-rested and hasn't yet become wound up from the stimulation of the day. Avoid doing anything particularly active or exciting before going to the dentist appointment. It's also a good idea to make sure your child has a good meal since a full stomach is one less distraction and a recently fed child is less likely to feel grumpy or agitated.

Tip #4: Focus on Praise

Work with the dentist (such as Dr. Robert Petrtyl) to come up with a praise and reward system. Most kids respond better to praise than they do reprimands. If your child doesn't respond to the dentist's instructions the first time, simply repeat them until they do. Once they respond appropriately, praise their effort instead of focusing on the failures that came before. Having a reward in the wings, which they only receive after successfully completing their appointment, can help. Each time they do what is expected of them, praise them and let them know they are one step closer to their reward. This gives the child something to focus on and work towards, which can help them fight their distraction.