As a dental hygienist (especially if you work for a pediatric dentist), you may frequently have young patients who are about to lose their baby teeth or have teeth that are very loose. Cleaning these teeth may be a challenge for you as a professional because the tooth is very wobbly, and it could also be uncomfortable for the child because the gum area might hurt around a tooth that has yet to fall out.
The Fear Factor
It's important when you are working in this profession as a dental hygienist that you reassure children that it's perfectly normal to lose their baby teeth. Since most kids start to lose their teeth between the ages of four and six, you are dealing with patients who are very young and may not have even started Kindergarten yet! As a dental hygienist, it's helpful to be trained to ensure that the child isn't scared, as this can make a simple exam challenging. Plus, if the child is uncooperative, you don't want something as basic as a regular cleaning to become an impossible task.
Tips To Use When Baby Teeth Are Involved
- A plush kid-friendly toy is great to have on hand for children to hold in the dentist's chair.
- Make sure they know there's a prize (normally a small toy or toothbrush) waiting for them at the end of their visit, if they cooperate without tears!
- Have an oversized mirror available so children can look at their teeth before you start an exam or a cleaning.
- Acknowledge any loose or wobbly teeth, and make sure you let them know that you will try to avoid any gum areas around that tooth, or teeth, that might be painful.
- Convey to your young patients that losing their baby teeth is perfectly normal and stress the importance of big teeth coming in as part of growing up.
- Reinforce brushing after each meal using child-sized brushes, and remind them to use a small amount of toothpaste.
- Make sure your small patients understand it's important to spit out the toothpaste after brushing, and not to swallow the "icky" stuff even if it's mint-flavored!
- Keep tooth fairy stories to a minimum since not all parents/guardians actually reward children with money or gifts for teeth that fall out!
- After the exam and/or cleaning, let your young patients pick out their own toothbrush to take home with them, along with a small toy or coloring book, if your dental practice keeps them in stock.