So many children come to the dentist and are thrilled to leave with a high five and a sticker, but many are ridiculously nervous. As a parent, there is a lot you can do to minimize your child’s anxiety.
When you come to Katy Trail Dental, our front office will have something of childhood interest broadcasting on our television, and is prepared with hot chocolate, should your little one be allowed to have a cup. I like to introduce my assistant as My Friend and ask my friend to take Little Tommy or Tina back and show them our home. We look more like a home than a traditional office; it is very open and we don’t cram a lot of people through at the same time. We can seat Little Tina or Tommy and make them all cozy in a blanket and they can hold our teddy bear. After getting to know them and telling them a little about us, we will ask them if we can take our X-rays. Once they have their X-rays done like a champ, we will be sure to let them know how well they did! Children require a watchful eye from a dental professional, but their visits can be very brief. We will clean their teeth with hand instruments, polish and floss them, and apply a fluoride varnish to keep the teeth strong. Before and while doing all this I am showing Tommy (or Tina) my gloves, masks, and instruments. Nothing should be intimidating for a child, but all the newness of that experience certainly is. Children are curious!
Now, importantly, I insist that Mom or Dad let us take Tina back to start treatment without their company. Mom and Dad are always welcome to pop in unannounced and check on our progress, but Tommy needs to know that Mom and/or Dad trust me. I bring Mom and/or Dad back once we get to a good point to discuss all my findings and let Tommy or Tina tell them what a great time they had, but it’s when he or she is behaviorally ready. These are all important steps in ensuring a successful visit and subsequent visits.
At home, parents, I encourage you not to imply that a child should be fearful, ask them if they are scared, or tell them it won’t hurt. It is great to be supportive of your child and empathetic, but these statements and questions are known to instill anxiety in children. Little Tommy will be fine; trust him and his pearly whites to us! We are here to help!