Delmarva Dental Services wants children to enjoy coming to the dentist without any fears or apprehension. We plan on achieving this by initially performing simple procedures, progressing to the more complicated ones. Prior to scheduling children for the first filling appointment, we usually schedule them with a hygienist to place preventive sealants. This allows time to become familiar with the instruments, holding their mouth open, staying still, having cotton rolls in the mouth and tolerating unpleasant tastes. It also lessens the chance of needing fillings in the future. When several fillings are needed, we start out with the easiest, progressing to the more complicated and even to multiple fillings. Of course every child is different and we evaluate each one individually. This allows us to customize our treatment accordingly.
In order to make children’s dental visits comfortable, the staff of Delmarva Dental Services needs the help of parents, caregivers and siblings. Statements with the intent to lessen fear can actually cause children to be apprehensive, create suspicion and mistrust or have anxiety toward the dental visit. It’s important not to use such phrases as: “It won’t hurt.” “If you’re really good I’ll give you a prize.” or “It only stings for a minute.” Relating your own dental experiences can do the same and are not relevant to what will necessarily take place. Of course, teasing a child about what might happen is even worse.
Children are able to sense a parent who is fearful, regardless of the attempts to hide the fact. Many times during treatment a fearful parent, attempting to comfort an unafraid child, will make statements or place their hand on the child. This can unintentionally alarm a child. Delmarva Dental Services’ staff sympathizes with concerned parents but our primary goal is for the child to have a pleasant experience. When a parent is fearful, it is best for a more relaxed parent to bring the child or for the fearful parent to remain in the reception area during treatment.
So, what can you say to a child? Don’t offer explanations unless asked and try to say as little as possible. Use positive statements like, “You are going to get a pretty white filling.” “The dentist is going to fix the hole in your tooth.” Do not mention needle, drills, or pain. State that the dentist and his assistants are nice, care about you and are fun. Your cooperation will help ensure a pleasant dental experience for your child and minimize his or her fear of the dentist; thereby, allowing you a pleasant experience also.