When i was a kid and even till my late teenage i had slightly protruding front Teeth.It is Probably one of the things that made me a self conscious and introvert when i grew up. I put braces for my teeth and later in my early twenties removed them and till now i have a good looking smile and healthy teeth .Even today when i tell people that i wore braces when i was a teen people will never believe it to be true.Point is…I know how much having a good oral hygiene is important to a child’s development of a positive self image particularly while they are young and growing up.
My son was having cavities and other teeth related issues ever since he started to have his first set of teeth.He is 7 now but we remember visiting the Pediatric dentists ever since he was three.In fact even now i remember his first visit to the Pediatric dentist.The dentist asked him to sit in the chair and open his mouth and my son obliged him happily.The doctor said ‘Your son is the first child who has not cried while sitting in the dental chair in my enter professional life’.But he was mad at us for feeding him in his sleep at night which supposedly caused his problems.Also we were told to visit when he is at least six years old because that is the time when his second set of teeth will start growing and that is the best time for treatment as per my doctor.So we started seeing the dentist again last year and this time my son started to get scared and started crying when the light in the dentist chair was turned on and the doctor started examining his teeth.The dentist recommended us to pay a visit every fortnight for checkup and fillings of cavities.I don’t know what happened by my son will start crying all the way from home to the dentist’s office and back to home again.I don’t know how many of you can empathize with me but as a father it was deeply disturbing to see him cry making weird noises while the dentist is forcefully examining and filling his cavities.That’s when i thought about influencing him in positive ways to co-operate with the dentist by talking to him and by convincing him totally.So the actual post starts here…It’s all about what techniques i used on him and what i said to him and how each dentist session goes….Though he has overcome his fear of the dentist to a large extent we are still seeing the dentist regularly and the complex procedures like Root canal(I know it is not complex these days but it might be complex enough for a 7 year old) are yet to be done and there is no way i can predict he will remain calm till the end of his treatment.
So i will list out some of the things i did to help my child overcome his fear of the Pediatric Dentist.
1.Understanding his Fears from his Point of View:-
Most parents wonder why the child is not co operating with the dentist and they try aggressive parenting techniques like Intimidating the kids.I am not saying that mild intimidation for the greater good of the child is a bad thing,to be honest,I had done the same thing and i would still do if it had worked.Obviously scaring kids about the consequences of not Cooperating didn’t quite work out and so i tried to dig in to the root of the problem to find other available solution.I put myself in to the shoes of my son and tried to find out(by visualizing) what is scary about sitting in that dentist chair .It may be the flash light that they flash inside the mouth or it may be the tube they put inside the mouth to such out excess water or saliva or it may be the sound of the drill they use for cleaning the teeth.I called my son who was playing for a talk.He was in a good happy state of mind and after some fluff talk i started telling him stuff like….”You know the reason why they keep the light….The light is just to help the dentist to see inside your mouth…Do you know why they put the tube inside your mouth?It is just to suck the spit out of out mouth….why they use the drill?It is just to clean the teeth and make it white and healthy….” At this point he interrupted me and told….”But the tube they put inside my mouth hurts the sides of my cheeks”.
Wow! That’s valuable information for me.This is exactly the kind of feedback i needed.I now have the exact problem and i am clear about the outcome i need to have in my mind when i communicate and persuade my son.I have to make him feel comfortable about having that tube in his mouth.Now i don’t have to talk about the lights or the drill sound or thousand other things that were supposed to make him scared.(Now your child can have a different thing that scares him that is entirely different than my son’s but the context of your conversation is going to be the same like mine…Only the content is different.)
So the minutes of the first step are a.Think from the child’s point of view and frame a conversation so that you get some feedback so that you can single out the first thing that causes him to fear the visit to the dentist.
2. Repetition is the key:Now start telling your child stories which involve the problem at hand but in a positive way.I tell my son that i saw a girl the other day in the dentist’s office and how she cooperated fully well….she was not afraid when the doctor inserted the tube to such excess saliva out. When everything was done she looked very pretty with the cutest of the smiles …etc..I sometimes tell him how he was brave when he was a kid at the dentist’s chair and the compliments he received.The key is repeat these small anecdotes and stories many times.Repetition ensures that your child has the positive seeds planted firmly in their minds and rest assured that their courage is going to sprout out the next time they are in the dentists office.