If the demographics in your area indicate a lot of young families, specializing in family dentistry makes sense for your bottom line. Current patients who are new parents already trust you and feel comfortable in your care, so it should be a no-brainer that they choose you when it’s time for their little ones to visit the dentist. But does your office environment appeal to a wide range of ages, including kids?
Many little ones are scared when appointment time comes. New environments can be intimidating and machines that make odd noises are scary, so if you make them feel at home and at ease while they’re waiting, you’ll reap the benefits when they make it into your chair. Once they’ve gotten through their first appointment, they’ll realize it wasn’t so bad after all and might even look forward to coming back!
Here are some ways to make your office more kid-friendly while keeping an environment that appeals to adults as well:
Designate a Special Space Just for Kids:
- Comfy, kid-sized seating is paramount, whether it’s bean bags, toddler chairs and tables, or small ottomans. Kids are immediately at ease when everything around them is their size. Add in fun, dental-themed furniture and just like that, you’ve captured their attention.
- Find a colorful bookshelf and stock it with books that cover everything from nursery rhymes to young adult classics so kids of all ages can find something they like. Be sure to add books specifically focused on dental care. Educate your youngest patients on the importance of good oral hygiene in a way they can understand and make learning fun with colorful images and fun stories.
- Puzzles, small games and dental-related coloring books or activity books also make a great addition to your reception area. Hands-on projects can be calming and will keep kids occupied while they wait.
Time for Your Checkup!
Your patient has been called back for his treatment and this is where things can get tricky. While the child may have been cool as a cucumber while he was waiting, he might be terrified now that he’s in your chair looking at all your dental supplies. There are plenty of things you can do to calm his nerves and keep him happy:
- Every kid loves stuffed animals. They’re like a security blanket and a best friend all rolled into one. Let your littlest patients hang onto them during treatment so they won’t feel alone or scared. Not only are plush toys comforting, they make great educational tools, too. SmartPractice carries demo puppets with full sets of flossable teeth so you can show little ones proper brushing and flossing techniques.
- Want to add an extra surprise? Use vanilla-scented exam gloves! Kids love scented products such as stickers and erasers so why not use a scented glove to add an extra fun factor to their visit? With no nitrile odors, it’s little things like this that help make the exam process a little bit easier.
- Let kids feel like they’re in control by allowing them to choose their favorite flavor of fluoride gel. Flavors such as bubble gum, strawberry and grape get kids excited about having their teeth polished.
- Once your patient is done with his or her appointment, be sure to reward her for being a trooper. This is the highlight of every child’s dental appointment! Kids will be thrilled to choose a prize from a treasure box filled goodies such as stickers, bracelets, games and other trinkets. Or send them home with supply bags filled with dental supplies such as flossers, toothpaste and a colorful toothbrush.
Just by implementing a few of these things, you’ll plant the seed in parents’ minds that, when it’s time, YOUR practice is where they will bring their kids for quality dental care. Do you have a trick for making appointments for kids easier? Share your tips in the comments.