Pediatric Dentistry of Forsyth

Providing your child the attention they deserve

facebook Jason Bongiovi DMD 3810 Windermere Pkwy, Suite 501
Cumming, GA 30041
(770) 889-9600

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Being a GREAT Dental "Parent"?

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.

What?!? Keeping my child cavity free isn't your highest priority?

June 1st, 2017

I want to share a personal truth.  Keeping your child cavity free is NOT my first goal when you walk into my office.

In fact, other dental issues that are not my top priority are brushing, x-rays, plaque, pacifiers, teething, braces or how often you’re flossing.  (I know it was the last time we flossed your child’s teeth six months ago!)

In actuality, my number one goal is to get your child to become a great dental patient for life.  Before I look for cavities or gingivitis, I’m thinking about how we’re going to create a positive experience.

To do this, we create a warm and caring environment with the right people doing the right things.  We establish trust with your child so that we can have a great experience in the dental office.

Having a positive dental appointment isn’t always an easy thing to do.  Sometimes, I have children walk through the door in tears.  Some have had bad dental experiences elsewhere, and some simply don’t like strangers or they just might not like me!

Did I mention that I also use things like drills and shots and other scary things?  Not a great combination when your goal is an easy relaxing appointment, but I’ve learned something over the years from my favorite group of patients to treat.

When I first started practicing, one the aspects that I enjoyed most was working with children on the Autism Spectrum.  Some patients on the spectrum wouldn’t walk into the office or get in the chair to allow an examination.

Dentists like things certain ways; we will obsess over a half millimeter.  Most of us are type A personalities.  I found with many of the autistic patients, I couldn’t work on “dentist” terms. I had to play the game on their terms.  That meant breaking down each appointment into small steps.  Sometimes just sitting in the chair took one or two appointments.  Sometimes counting fingers as opposed to teeth took an entire appointment.  We always tried to find something that they could do as opposed to worrying about what they couldn’t do.

What we found was that over time (sometimes months, sometimes years), we’d get a little better and a little closer to a full dental appointment.  All of a sudden, we had children on the spectrum going from not sitting in the chair to getting a true cleaning.  We had children who wouldn’t sit still for an examination taking a panoramic X-ray.  Big strides and accomplishments were cheered and celebrated.

We took that same process and applied it to every other patient that walks into our practice. We go slow, focusing on the things that they can do, and we celebrate when they accomplish something they couldn’t do before.  Any time I have a young patient, and I’m not 100% sure how they are going to react to an exam or counting teeth, I always start with counting fingers.  Then we count ears.  Then we count noses.  I do this because all children will let you count their fingers before they will let you count their teeth.  We always try and start with something they can do, building trust that way.  And almost all dental treatment can be completed, easily and painlessly, once trust is established.

My wife is a general dentist. I like to say I that helped her through dental school, but the truth is that she “probably” helped me more.   She sees too many adults, myself included, with dental anxieties and fears.  Those fears didn’t start when they were 20 or 35.  They started when they were 3 or 8 or 11.  That’s why when you walk into my office, my first thought isn’t “Wow.  We really need to brush along the gum line around teeth S and T.”  It’s “How can we give this child a great experience?” so that when that child is an adult, he/she will think “Why wouldn’t I go to the dentist every six months?”

I’ve been a board-certified pediatric dentist for almost ten years.  I work at one of the busiest children’s hospitals in the country.  If I’ve learned anything, it’s that positive repetitive dental appointments should be the cornerstone of a pediatric dental practice.

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