August 17th, 2017
I've seen A LOT of things written about being a great dental patient. In fact my first blog post was about how to become a great dental patient. But there is one other factor that must be addressed: The dental parent!
Here's a common scenario that I see everyday. A four year old has a small cavity on a lower back tooth. This should be an EASY filling done in about 10 minutes. She's had two great cleaning appointments before and has no fear of the dentist or having a filling. Mom, on the other hand, has had bad dental experiences in the past. She wants to se the stage for her child, so she tells her everything that might happen: Laughing gas, shots, drills, keeping her mouth open, etc. By the time the child is in the chair they're nervous and scared. Patient looks to mom. Mom says everything is going to be OK, but she's pacing. The patient starts to cry, mom becomes panicked. I say maybe be shouldn't push this today, we'll try again in 3 mos.
It didn't have to end up this way...parents can learn to be great dental parents. Here's how....
1. Find a dentist that you trust. Maybe its me, maybe it isn't, but if you don't have complete trust in the person treating your child you need to leave the office immediately. Run. Then research, research, research until you find someone you do trust. If you have someone you know if going to treat your child like their own, what is there is be worried about?
2. Don't put your anxieties on your child. I get it. I don't enjoy going to the dentist either. Children can feel your tension and anxiety when you're in the room with them. Be calm, trust the process and the doctor. You child will then be more likely to be calm and trust the process and the doctor.
3. Less is more. Depending on the child, I usually ask my parents not to make a big deal about any upcoming appointment and not to explain things in great detail. I'm not good at a lot of things. I can't run fast, my spelling is horrible (My wife has to proofread all my blog posts), and I have little rhythm. But after doing pediatric dentistry since 2005 I am very good at explaining dentistry to children. So let me do it. That what you're paying for anyway right?
4. Be a somewhat silent observer. I welcome any parent back with their child for any appointment that takes place in my office. I also like to talk about what's going on in everyone's lives while we're working but when it comes to what's happening in the chair let me handle it. I've got this! Trying to communicate with your child while we're working puts both you and your child in a tough position....and leads to more and more anxiety for both of you.
Follow these 4 rules and I will give you 99% guarantee (Is that a thing?)that we'll make it through any dental appointment.