Is Your Child Afraid of the Dentist?
Q. What is the difference between how a dentist treats a child compared to an adult? Do dentists use special methods or equipment for children? What should a parent tell a child in preparation for a dental visit?
A. The dentist should take extra care to manage a child’s fear. Fear of the unknown is a major problem facing a child when he visits the dentist for the first time. To overcome this problem, the dentist will spend more time with a child to explain, in a fun way, every procedure and every instrument he will use. Children often fear going to the dentist because of stories they have heard from others. Parents are advised not to talk about any bad experiences they may have had at the dentist in front of their child.
In many instances, a needleless syringe can be used for children. Also, adhesive dentistry [fillings that come with a material that adheres to teeth] is recommended for children, because the dentist can fill cavities with a minimum of drilling. In the next years, lasers will be used for painless treatment of cavities, with no drilling.
In preparation for the visit, simply tell your child that you are taking him to the dentist to have his teeth checked. Parents should not over prepare a child by explaining all the steps of a dental visit. This will make the child anxious; let the dentist explain the steps himself at the right time. Do not lie to the child and tell him that the dentist will not use an injection, because he may have to use one. During the visit, parents should not try to help the dentist unless he asks for help, because multiple orders can confuse a child.
It is much easier to prevent dental problems than to treat then. “My advice to parents is to take their child to visit the dentist before there is a problem,” he says, noting that routine dental visits involve painless procedures like cleaning and fluoride application. By having regular check-ups, your child will get used to visiting the dentist.
By: Dr. Tarek A. Samad
Ph.D. Professor of Dental Surgery, Al Azhar University
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