Kids Who Bite Are Alright For Dentists With Finger Cots

Describes finger cots for parents of children who bite dentists. Also lists tips for avoiding dental phobias in children.

Sometimes taking your child to the dentist can be a real trial. It's hard enough if your kid is frightened and cries or yells, but it's even worse if your child is a biter.

WHY DO SOME CHILDREN BITE THE DENTIST?

Children usually bite to show aggression or to defend themselves from harm.

The child who bites may be angry at the dentist, for instance, if he feels tricked into coming to the appointment or decides the dentist is being "mean" to him or her.

Children also bite as a means of defense, when they are frightened. The child may, for instance, feel threatened by all the noise and equipment and may bite on the strange fingers to get them out of his or her mouth.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO EASE DENTAL ANXIETY?

There are several steps you can take to ease your child's anxiety about seeing the dentist.

People usually become afraid of things for one of two reasons. Either they have had a bad experience themselves, or people close to them are afraid or have had a bad experience. Children often pick up their fear of dentists from grown-ups, so check your own phobias and concerns at the door.

When it's time for your child to go to the dentist, it's best to approach the subject in a calm, easy manner, just as you would approach going to the library or going to the nursery to buy some plants. Don't tell your child not to be afraid--if you do, he or she will wonder what there is to fear. Explain to your child that dentists help keep our teeth healthy just like doctors help keep our bodies healthy.

Schedule the first visit to the dentist early, before the child develops problems with his or her teeth. This allows the child to get to know the dentist and the staff and to have a chance to experience neutral or even pleasant feelings about the dentist's office.

Consider selecting a pediatric dentist, who has been trained to work with children. A pediatric dentist will know how to explain procedures and make treatments as painless as possible.



If a treatment is going to hurt a little, try suggesting something your child can do besides bite. For instance you might say, "If it starts to hurt too bad, raise your right hand."

After a dental appointment, don't be surprised if your child wants to play dentist for awhile, perhaps using dolls or stuffed animals as patients. This kind of play is perfectly normal and should be encouraged. It allows the child to integrate the dental appointment into his or her experience and achieve a sense of control.

Of course, the best thing you can do to prevent your child from developing dental anxiety is to make sure your child takes good care of his or her teeth at home. This should help prevent your child from requiring multiple unpleasant treatments.

But suppose you've tried all this, and your child is still a biter? Perhaps the staff even wants to sedate your child before his next dental appointment. While sedation is a possibility, it can slow your kid down for several days, and always carries with it the possibility of adverse effects from the medication.

Before trying sedation, ask your dentist if a finger cot would help.

WHAT ARE FINGER COTS?

Dental finger cots are like little gloves for the fingers. They are used for a variety of reasons. Latex finger cots, for instance, can provide a barrier against infection if the dentist has an injured finger. However, dentists who are concerned about biting should use acrylic finger cots which can be ordered both online and from medical supplies catalogs.

The dentist usually wears the finger cots on the third or fourth finger of each hand under his or her latex gloves. If the child bites down, the dentist can continue working with the thumb and second finger. The finger cot allows the patient to bite on the dentist's finger without inflicting any harm.

After the appointment, take a few minutes to reflect with the child. When did he or she bite down? When there were scary noises? When there was pain? Then rehearse with the child what he or she might do the next time.

Always praise a child and offer a small reward after a successful dentist's appointment. This can help your child feel more relaxed about going to the dentist next time.

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