Children and adolescents in Sweden are given free dental care and routine cleaning and check-ups with a hygienist. Teens start to feel more and more self-sufficient as they age, and some feel a little more independent than they actually are. This attitude doesn’t come as a surprise to any parent in the world. It can also lead to unintentional and self-destructive habits that can set a standard for the rest of their lives.
General health and dental treatments decrease throughout these years. Barriers and Facilitators for Adolescent Girls to Take on Adult Responsibility for Dental Care- A Qualitative Study, by Anida Fagerstad, Jesper Lundgren, Eva Carlson, et al., explores the effect this trend has on the dental community and their responsibility to overemphasize diligent dental hygiene as part of a kind and supportive chairside manner either to overcompensate for teen neglect or to convince them that they need to show up for routine check-ups.
Pain and Discomfort
Any experience that the teen has defined as negative will deter them from coming back in the future. Tooth extractions, restorations, and anesthesia can be uncomfortable. The attitude of the hygienist affects the teen’s experience in either a positive or negative way. They are very sensitive to how they are perceived and how they are treated.
A peer’s bad experience can also harm their opinion. Kids can exaggerate stories and scare others away from the dental office. A dental professional who does not explain procedures can cause fear and anxiety. For some, all those dental instruments in their mouths can be overwhelming.
Attractive and Healthy Teeth
The attractive look of healthy teeth is the main reason, aside from pain, that teens maintain certain appointments. There is a fear of bad breath and social rejection at the teen “kissing age.” Emphasizing this issue at appointments can affect whether the child will come back next time. At the same time, children who are embarrassed by the state of their teeth may not want to put them on display for the dentist and hygienist.
Feeling Safe and Secure
Fear comes from the unexpected and teens who know what to expect and understand why and how procedures will happen due to quality communication between dental professionals and patients will feel more secure in the chair. The kids are very interested in learning what will happen at the next appointment.
Teens and communication don’t always mix, but it helps if the teen shares their fears with dental professionals. A great hygienist understands and cares about the importance of calming their patient’s anxiety. A grumpy or otherwise unpleasant staff can affect a person’s entire day, and to teens, a day feels like a year.
The teen must respect and have confidence in the dental staff. They should not be criticized for their oral hygiene and practices. Criticism trip the wire attached to their fight or flight mechanism, and they won’t be back. This is especially true when the children see dental personnel as strangers instead of friendly acquaintances there to help them.
Taking on the Responsibility
Teens have a hard time managing their schedules. It’s the plot of every teen movie. Dental care is a responsibility they still see as belonging to their parents, and they have to be reminded about appointments. They have a habit of ignoring responsibilities they don’t want or don’t understand, and their oral health isn’t usually top of the list exciting.
Some kids are even afraid that their peers will see them as dorks for not hanging out and going to the dentist instead. Transportation problems arise when parents work, and the kids don’t have a car or a license. The problem is worse without public transportation. It is a pain to take off from school and miss assignments and discussions that must be made up.
Free of Charge
American people celebrate the day they find out that their medical deductibles have been met. Now they can go to any doctor and not have to pay a thing. End of year appointments is always high as people try to get in before their insurance starts over for the new year. Dental care in Sweden, as mentioned before, is free.
The teens put off going to the dentist because they can go any time and the cost is the same: nothing. There is no dramatic flurry of appointments and no sense of urgency. At the same time, when the teens age out of the free system, paying for dental care is almost seen as an insult that some people refuse to pay.
Girls are the most sensitive to the anxieties highlighted above, and when faced with the internal struggle of going or not going to their appointments, a higher percentage decline. Also, each family may have a different opinion on who’s responsible for remembering the teen’s appointments.
Allowing the teen to make decisions and to have input about their treatments makes them feel in control. The hygienist is an important key to get the teens back for their next appointments, especially when they have a friendly and fun report with the patient.
Broken appointments and a lack of professional dental care always have negative effects on lifelong dental health. This study highlights the exact reasons why teens don’t like to keep their appointments in first-world countries and define exactly what health professionals can do to combat the problem and prevent further health problems.