Many parents expect their children either to act up or be little angels at the dentist. With children, you really never know quite what you are going to get. Here is a list of what I generally see with children at different ages and what to expect as far as behavior in the dental office. I have to say I have had one and two year olds who do better than teenagers. I also have seen parents in worse shape than their kids. The behavior is what I usually see for dental exams or cleanings. If they do have cavities or other treatment needs, I use the cleaning/exam appointment to evaluate their response. If I think they will be fussy for treatment, then we discuss how to make that better. There are always exceptions to what I am presenting here, but this is how it goes:
They usually do well for an exam or just cry a little. Give them their pacifier and they are as good as new.
One year Olds-
they usually do quite well although if they are closer to two things can get a little loud.
Two Year Olds-
They don't call this age the "terrible twos" for nothing. These kids are by far the hardest to examine. They almost always cry to be examined. Means they really scream like there is no tomorrow. They fight too. This is the age that they begin to establish independence. This is especially true for the "headstrong" kids. They really don't like to lie down for an exam.
Three Year Olds-
this is a transition age. Some three year olds are just as fussy as the two year olds just bigger and stronger. Some are model patients who let you lay them down, clean their teeth, and often do fillings without protest. Even a particular three year old may respond differently depending on what side of the bed he woke up on that day. You know what I am talking about.
Four year Olds-
Most of the time they are the best patients. They hop up into the chair; let you take x-rays, fillings, whatever. They can't do this for long, but most do quite well. Again, there are exceptions. Some are as "head strong" as the two year olds.
Five through Eight-Regular kids.
Most do quite well. Communicating with these kids and can guide them through almost anything.
Eight to Eleven-
Most do well, but these are the "needlephobic" years. You can have a perfectly calm child who throws a giant fit if he thinks he is going to get a "shot". Read here for more info on that bad word: Pedo Lingo. After they have received appropriate anesthesia, they revert back to cooperative patients.
Most do well although some have typical teenager "attitudes". You have to take into account whether they are the "I'm too cool to care/whatever" type or (usually young ladies) who are extremely preoccupied with their appearance.