Patient or parental counselling is critical in any dental health activity as it involves actively listening, empathy and understanding to the patient and help them to overcome their challenges whether curative, preventive, or promotional. Pediatric dentists are responsible for providing services that involve the practical application of theoretical scientific knowledge for the benefit of children of all ages from infants to teenagers and are especially providing guidance of managing routine oral hygiene habits to help prevent future dental issues. In this case, counselling is the first step to educate patients on dental disease prevention, a dental surgeon providing more services to the patient by counselling than by performing, extractions, fillings or space maintainers. This not only benefits the patient’s overall health but also allows a more personalized approach to patient care, building trust and improving overall health outcomes. Counselling is a true communication art. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, managing an oral habit can include patient or parent counselling, followed by behavior modification and treatment.
The main objectives of counselling are to provide information about the disease along with prevention techniques, motivation about health awareness and proper treatment, proper guidance for better oral hygiene, and encouragement to adapt preventive measures. Additionally, counselling can assist patients in developing a positive mindset towards their treatment and recovery.
Directive, Non-directive and Interpretive are three types of parental or patient counselling. Parental attitude, self-efficacy, and intention have a strong correlation to oral hygiene practices in preschoolers. Educating parents regarding tooth development and the chronology of eruption can help them better understand the implications of delayed or accelerated tooth emergence. Parents also need to be informed about the benefits of topical fluorides for newly erupted teeth, which may be at greater risk of developing caries, especially during the post-eruption maturation process. Early dental visits provide an opportunity to counsel parents to help their children stop sucking habits before malocclusion or skeletal dysplasia’s occur. Parents should be encouraged to schedule regular dental check-ups for their children to ensure that any potential issues are identified and addressed early on, promoting optimal oral health.
As motor coordination develops and the child grows older, the parent or patient should be counseled on additional safety and preventive measures, such as the use of protective equipment for sporting and high-speed activities. This includes athletic mouth guards, helmets with face shields, wearing seat belts in car and advising to avoid dangerous activities like climbing on high surfaces without adult supervision. These measures can help prevent serious injuries and accidents.
By examining the infant for oral problems and providing early preventive counselling, it is possible to prevent many forms of dental disease and thus promote the total health of child patients.