We all want what is best for our children. Good grades, success in life, good health, happiness…these are all things that we wish upon our kid. I often hear patients make statements that they do not want their kids to be afraid of the dentist like they themselves are. That’s something we can all agree on.
We see kids of all shapes, sizes and ages in our office. When I say all ages, I really mean it. We see forty year old men that can turn into six year old girls when they get into the chair. Actually, most six year old girls are better behaved. The truth is that these patients have dental anxiety from past experiences. Many times, we dentists walk into the room handicapped from something that may have happened years ago.
In dental school, we were taught that the number one reason that people skip going to the dentist has to do with fear. Lack of insurance and out of pocket costs are a far second and third to anxiety about dental care. The sad truth is that many times a single bad experience can give someone dental anxiety for life, especially when it occurs at a young age. In the best interests of us all, here are a few ways to keep you, and your kids, anxiety free.
Be a regular – The best way to keep from having a bad experience is preventative care. Regular cleanings and check‐ups have two advantages. The first is the accumulation of good experience. Kids that have been in our office for several routine visits (no shots, no sting) generally are well behaved when that dreaded first cavity comes along. This building of trust works with adults as well. The second advantage of routine care has to do with catching small problems. Young or old, a simple filling is much less traumatic than a root canal and crown.
Go to the dentist before it hurts – This is an addendum to the previous tip. If you see a dark spot on your child’s tooth or you have a tooth that is sensitive to cold or sweets, see your dentist before the toothache arrives. When a child or an adult walks into our office in pain, we know that we are going to have to work really hard to make that visit anxiety free.
Please, don’t use your doctors as discipline – The worst statement I ever heard in the office was a mom who told her child, “If you don’t sit still, I’m going to have the doctor give you a shot.” At that point, my reputation with the child was ruined. Please don’t make our job harder than it already is. This goes for all of your doctors.
Lead by example ‐ Our kids tend to mimic us. If a child sees you brush and floss regularly, they will too. Same thing happens in the office. If a kid sees Mom or Dad do well in the dental chair, that kid is going to do well. Be a good example to your kids.
Sedation dentistry – If all else fails, talk to your dentist about sedation dentistry. This is where you or your child can be given a variety of medications that make you sleepy and relaxed for your dental care.
Dentistry has changed quite a bit through the years. We now have the tools and knowledge to make your visits mostly anxiety free. We definitely can get your kids on the right track and avoid that bad experience.
Until next time, keep smiling.
‐Questions or comments can be sent to Drs. Parrish at ParrishDental@aol.com