A Canadian survey found that 49.2% of people with high anxiety had avoided dental treatment. Out of these about 50% were children below the age of 10. Although most children have no expectation and very little fear going to the dentist, the parents anxiety and what other people tell them sets the expectation. In the real world, it is hard to avoid dentalphobia for some and for some it is already too late.
Dental phobia is real and often times debilitating, leading to missed appointments and poor oral health. For children, this can lead to long term dental problems that can stay with them forever. Dentalphobia is sometimes best managed by preventing it and various relaxation options are one means of doing this.
At Stouffville Smiles Dentistry, we understand that anxiety and dentalphobia are one of the biggest impediments to achieving optimum oral health and hence overall health. For this very reason, our team members are highly trained in providing a host of relaxation options ranging from simple tell-show-do technique to laughing gas, oral sedation, all the way to general anesthesia and IV sedation (or deep sedation).
Pediatric Management Techniques
We will use a combination of different behavioral management techniques and/or medically induced relaxation options to carry out the preventive and/or therapeutic treatment plan. These include:
1. Positive Reinforcement – using positive words of encouragement
2. Negative Reinforcement – using fear and punishment to control them
3. Modeling – using their parent or older sibling as a model
4. Tell-Show-Do – telling them, showing them and then doing something
5. Hand-Over-Mouth – placing hand over mouth if crying to stop it
6. Nitrous Oxide Sedation – use of laughing gas to calm them down a bit
7. General Anesthesia – single visit sleep dentistry
Things to Do Before and During the Appointment
We want to create as much positive excitement as possible for their visit to the dentist as possible. This means talking positive and giving them a positive idea of what a dental appointment is like.
• We understand that some parents have had bad experiences with their dental appointments but we DO NOT want to communicate this anxiety to them.
• Avoid using ANY NEGATIVE words or sentences such as “this doesn’t hurt.”, “needles”, “pain”.
• Avoid saying things like “does this hurt?”, “oh my god.”, “my poor baby”, or anything negative that may affect them negatively into thinking that they should not trust us.
• It is always a good idea to bring older siblings first so they can “model” the younger ones. You can also bring your children into your own appointments so they learn to trust us. When they see it being done to their parents, they are more likely to accept it for themselves. If you’re anxious at your own appointment, avoid bring them in.
• We ask that you let us do the talking and if we need your assistance we will ask you for it. Please avoid jumping in to handle a situation such as crying, sobbing, shouting, etc by bribing them with anything. Please ask all your questions before the start of appointment and in the absence of the child.
• Although you are welcome to come to the treatment area, our ultimate goal is to condition the child so that they DO NOT need you in the treatment area with them. If you must come to the back, please be a quiet observer and let us do the talking.
• Distraction is the best tool we have in getting through the difficult parts of the appointment such as the numbing – we will make some noise and wiggle the child’s cheek or lips in order to distract them.
• We will often REWARD the child (not bribe) with small toys or stickers and positively encourage them to do better next time.
• If a child cries during the appointment, we may use a technique known as hand-over-mouth. In this technique, we place our hand on their mouth and we take something away from them such as their parent from the room until they stop crying and start listening.
• Sometimes, it may be necessary to abort a session and try something different next time. We encourage to avoid pushing the child to get through as the trauma that it can cause is sometimes irreversible and it can render future dental appointments very difficult even in adulthood. In these situations, we will discuss other options but avoid punishing them later for failing to get through the appointment.
Dr. Novin has extensive experience treating adults, children and people with special needs with Oral Sedation, I.V. Sedation and General Anesthesia and is one of his passions. Our facility is fully equipped to perform all forms of sedation in house and we are proud to bring this to our young patients at Stouffville and surrounding areas. We have a dedicated kids room and our dentists and team have taken extensive continuing education in seeing children and kids.