Do not transfer any fears. Many children who have never seen a dentist feel apprehensive because of fears passed on to them from their parents, siblings, or other influential people in their life. Try to keep your expressions light and happy, even if you are nervous yourself about seeing the dentist.
Never! use the word “shot.” With the topical numbing jelly, and the tiny needle that we use, most kids do not even realize they received an injection. If your child is already aware of the “shot” aspect of a dental appointment, we do not lie and say that they will not need a shot. Instead we reassure the child that we are very gentle, and that we use special jelly on their gums so they may not even feel the injection.
Focus on the fun things to see and do at the dentist like:
- Having their teeth counted (have them guess how many teeth they have)
- Taking pictures of their teeth and taking a ride in the dental chair
- Getting their teeth shiny, white, and strong with special vitamins
Do not motivate by fear. During routine tooth brushing time, do not threaten your child that if they do not brush their teeth, they will get a cavity and then the dentist will have to give them a shot and drill on their tooth. Motivation by fear may improve their brushing habits briefly, but the bigger consequence comes later if they actually need a cavity filled. At this point, they have been told how awful getting a filling will be and the actual filling appointment becomes very difficult for them, for us, and for you.
We encourage parents to stay in the reception area while we treat your child. If you would like to peek in the door or window to check up on our child, we fully support this. If you prefer to sit in the room with your child during treatment, we ask that you:
Offer “silent support”, and take cues from the dentist as to when to speak. Children can only effectively listen to one adult at a time. It becomes very confusing, and therefore, scarier if too many people are talking at one time. In an age-appropriate manner, we will explain everything we do with your child during the appointment so they know what to expect next. Oftentimes merely explaining what we are doing helps to keep them feeling safe. We welcome any insight from parents regarding special information that may pertain to your child.
One child per room at a time. At no time should any other children be present in the treatment room. This rule is to keep everyone safe from sharp instruments and other hazards and most importantly, so we can keep all attention focused on your child that is receiving treatment.
Never say “this won’t hurt”. A child may not link the concept of pain with the dentist and hopefully never will. Hearing this phrase makes everyone, especially children, immediately apprehensive.
Don’t make promises that can’t be kept. After the initial injection is complete, please do not promise your child that “the worst is over” or that was the only injection they will receive. It is often necessary to give multiple injections to obtain profound anesthesia.