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Taking Children to the Dentist

The Basis of Fear Many people learn an unusual fear of dentists as children. Young children watch cartoonish and comedic characterizations of dentists and dental offices on the TV starting at a very young age. These depictions are rarely flattering. Of course, children can also pick up emotions and feeling from parents very readily. While we might be telling them there is nothing to worry about at the dentists, our body language could be giving us away.

• Many learn a fear of dentists as children. • TV and cartoons often depict dentists as unflattering. • Children also pick up parent’s emotions, so it’s important to watch our body language.

What to tell Children Telling the child that dentists and their staff are expert at cleaning teeth, and can do a better job than we can at home, ties the activities in the dentist’s office back to an activity at home, teeth cleaning. And in the early years, that is the most likely activity to take place in a young child’s mouth. They have experienced parents helping them clean their teeth, and that was not a scary experience, so there should be no need to fear the same activity at the dentists.

• Tell children that dentists and their staff are experts. • Dentists can do a better job cleaning our teeth. • This helps tie brushing your teeth at home with the basic activities at a dental office.

What NOT to tell Children I don’t advise you to go into great details about what the child should expect. For example, describing the range of picks, hooks, scrapers, drills and bits that a person may be exposed to over the course of their dental history is probably counterproductive. Also, I don’t advise you to tell your children, “Look at Elisa. She’s not afraid of the dentist.” Setting a child up as a role model can put undue pressure on the other child.

• Don’t give children too many details. • Telling them the details of tools and other personal history can be too much. • Don’t use older siblings as role models. This can put unnecessary pressure on the younger child.

Systematic Desensitization When people have a dental phobia, psychologists often use a technique called Systematic Desensitization. It involves slowly taking the patient through a series of steps, starting with the least fearful, and teaching them to relax each step along the way.

• Dental phobias can be addressed.

• Systematic Desensitization includes a series of steps, starting with the least fearful. • Patients go through this process learning how to relax through the steps.

Moving Forward By getting your children into the dental office in a non-threatening way, and showing them that there is nothing to fear, you are able to get the jump on phobia formation, and prevent it from happening. This way in future, even if there is some pain or discomfort associated with a procedure, there will be a previous load of experiences that were pain free and comfortable to balance out negative feelings.

• Non-threatening dental visits can show children that there is nothing to fear. • This can address any phobias before they form. • If there is discomfort or pain in the future, children will have many pain-free experiences to balance out.

Bridge Street Dental Centre 705.653.2221 1.877.653.2226

Taking Kids To The Dentist  

Telling the child that dentists and their staff are expert at cleaning teeth, and can do a better j...