6th March 2017
3 Case studies on how to make your practice more child friendly
Children are arguably the toughest patients. With more than 160 operations every single day to extract children’s teeth, it is imperative that dental professionals become more equipped in dealing with children’s oral health.
It’s also easy to forget that kids grow up. A child who is aware of the importance of oral health is far more likely to become an adult who values oral health, too. Being child-friendly sets yourself up for a potentially life-long relationship with your patients.
Hear from three award-winning practices who have adapted their services and products to focus on preventative care for kids.
Case study 1:
Overcoming challenges with Frazer Dental
Dr Rachael Frazer, owner of Frazer Dental Practice, has perfectly adapted her practice to give children a positive first dental experience. Delightful tooth fairy doors have been placed around the room, children enjoy their own waiting area and they even get to live their Ibiza DJ dreams by picking the music. Treating children comes with its own set of challenges, here’s how Dr Frazer overcomes them:
Children find it difficult to open wide and for this reason I recently switched to the Pico hand piece by NSK – it’s smaller head allows easier access, with shorter length burs – give it a try! It helps so much when doing a posterior filling in a child, letting you get the awkward drilling part done before your young patient loses patience.
Fear of the unknown
It can be hard to get anxious children and parents on side. Many young children have genuine fears of the dentist, usually stemming from a previous bad experience or from listening too much to their parents who don’t like the dentist. It’s important to find ways of explaining to children why you are doing what you are doing. I find the vista cam is a great way of helping my young patients to understand what needs to be done and earning their trust. I can take photos or even a video of their whole mouth in HD and display it on a screen in front of them. Parents and children both love the intraoral camera and it can easily turn fear into excitement.
Improve their brushing
I find it very useful to do a brushing demo at each check-up appointment, but the best way to motivate children is to give them plaque disclosing tablets. This means they can see there and then the amount of plaque left after brushing their teeth badly. Telling them you will be doing plaque checks at each appointment works a treat!
Dr Rachael Frazer, owner of Frazer Dental practice in Kingscourt, County Cavan. She has won Sensodyne Sensitive Dentist of the year for Ulster as well as winning ‘Best Child Friendly Dental Practice 2016 at the Irish Dentistry Awards. Dr Frazer’s special interests are treating Nervous patients, children & orthodontics.
Case study 2:
Prioritising Prevention with Ghyllmount Dental
The team at Ghyllmount Dental in their own words “strive to offer our children the best care”. Formulating their own Preventative Programme, their focus remains on ensuring children become oral care savvy. Here’s how they’ve become child friendly:
Expanding the team
As part of our child care strategy, we have invested in a dedicated prevention team. The addition of dental therapists to the team was one of the best decisions they have ever made. This has ensured that all the children at the practice (who are seen on the NHS) as a minimum are now offered oral hygiene, dietary advice, and sealants and we have achieved all the targets set out in the document ‘Delivering Better Oral Health.’ Not only that, importantly they are offered this care and service in a way that is tailored to them as individuals, it is communicated and handled with an age appropriate, child friendly approach.
We try to engage with our child patients from day one. We encourage new parents to register their children straight away and to start bringing them along from birth so they get used to our staff and the environment.
When children arrive at the reception desk our friendly front of house team will always greet and address the children themselves and try to get them to give their own name. We feel that this makes them feel part of the Ghyllmount experience. We don’t want to talk about them over their heads as if they are not there.
They have their own patient lounge, the children have their own designated area (adjoining the adult lounge, so parents can keep an eye on them). They have their own TV with children’s channels playing as well as books, puzzles, train set and colouring table. When we designed the practice, we gave careful consideration to the aesthetics. We didn’t want the practice to look or feel like a dentist, we didn’t want that ‘dentist smell’.
We actively engage with the local community to reduce dental health inequalities. We are dedicated to spreading the word of the importance of good oral health out in the community. There is no financial gain to offering this community support, we do it because we want to break down the barriers to child attendance. We do this by regularly visiting schools, nurseries and new mum groups.
Without a shadow of doubt, we have patients that attend Ghyllmount simply because of the care their children receive. There will be patients who maybe don’t always value private care themselves, but because of the fantastic treatment and service their children receive, they see the value in their membership and stay with us.
Whilst we feel that the care we offer our children is the best, to have been recognised by the judging panel at the Private Dentistry Awards and Winning Best Child Friendly Practice demonstrates to our team and the local community that we can back up our ethos and claims of great care for our child patients.
The Prevention Plan
With help from DCP’s we have developed a unique Preventative Programme which focuses on intervention, at the same time developing individually tailored care for each and every one of our children, not forgetting that the key to success is to make a visit to the dentist fun.
- Appointment times especially reserved for our children out of school hours
- Regular examinations customised to your child’s needs
- Fluoride guidance
- Children’s club with personalised newsletter
- Tooth-brushing instruction for every child
- Fissure Sealants as needed
- Dietary advice
- Regular Orthodontic Assessment for tooth position/growth
- Mouthguards for Sport offered half price during school holidays
- Filling without drilling with the use of Velopex Aquacut equipment
- Free Creche facilities by arrangement with neighbouring award winning ‘Kiddlywinks Nursery’
- Toothbrushes available to use to freshen up before their visit
- Provide 2 minute timers
Ghyllmount Dental scooped the winner of ‘Best Child Friendly Practice UK’ at the Private Dentistry Awards 2016.
Case study 3:
Setting up patients for life with SouthWest Care Centre
SouthWest Care Centre realise that forming relationships with children is key to building life-long patients. Read how Liz, from SouthWest Care Centre, has helped to form a child-friendly culture:
Being child friendly comes naturally to the team here as we are all just big kids at heart, so we know instinctively the ways in which we can gain the trust and increase the confidence of every single child that walks into our practice.
One of the most important things for us is to engage with the kids directly and take an interest in how they are doing at school and what they have been up to since we last saw them, thus building a good rapport. We encourage young mums to bring the pre-school kids to their appointments, Liz and Jean at reception then become story tellers or help with colouring in whilst mum settles into the surgery to have her treatment done. We welcome them with warm greetings, team members and kids are all on first name terms in the practice.
When it’s time for appointments to be made, we address the child at all times therefor making them feel a real sense of belonging. We recently had a little boy who became separated from his mum, so he ran into the practice to tell us, trusting the team he stayed here playing happily with the toys until we could contact her.
We also sponsor several local clubs, who also engage children in extra-curricular sporting/community activities, hold an annual kids party during National Smile Month, and hold an annual tooth brush amnesty to encourage kids to swap their old brush for a new one.
The kids look forward to seeing our reception area, as the decor changes with the seasons.
- We encourage local primary schools to come for visits
- We encourage visits from the Brownies and other clubs
- We give regular tooth brushing instruction using disclosing tablets, a fun way of showing them where they need to concentrate
Since taking over the practice 10 years ago, we are now starting to see the value of being child friendly. The kids back then are now adults, valued paying customers, some with kids of their own now, so the cycle begins all over again.
If you think your practice tailors to the needs of babies and children, maybe you should think about entering ‘Best Child Friendly Practice’ at the Dentistry Scotland Awards. Entry is free!