2, March 2010
Experts tell Zeenia F Baria how parents can dispel dental fears in children
Pedodontist Dr Varsha Daryanani, says that preconceived notions picked up either in the school playground or at home run amok in children’s minds. “As dentists, we first have to deal with their fears and then with their teeth, which is why treatment performed on little kids has to be carried out slowly. We take maximum efforts in making them comfortable in the environment of a dental clinic. Paediatric dentists need to come to the level of their little patients and explain things to them in a manner that they easily comprehend. For instance, we refer to the drill as the water shower. There are several other behaviour management techniques adopted by a dentist, the most popular one used called the ‘Tellshow–do’ one, which works very well with children,” says Dr Daryanani.
The first appointment, she says, is extremely important since it paves the way for future sessions. “Therefore, it should be as simple as possible. And it should be as early as two years so as to familiarise the child with the dentist. Initially an easier treatment such as preventive treatment is carried out and only when the child is very comfortable should the rest of the treatment be attempted. Preventive treatments such as pit and fissure sealants or fluoride application are being implemented in a major way as kids today are exposed to a lot of refined foods and beverages and are not motivated enough to brush regularly,” says Dr Daryanani.
Today dentists not only recommend treatment to kids but also counsel them on their diet and motivate them to follow a good oral hygiene regime. “My advice to parents would be to avoid rushing to the dentist to have multiple teeth sittings at one time or to over–prepare your child for the appointment. This only adds to their apprehension. A calm parent usually means a calm child. Once the little patients are comfortable in the dental clinic and with their dentist, they make the best patients,” she says.
Few factors that affect dental fear in children include:
- Parents who set a poor example themselves and portray a negative image of the dentist or dental treatments.
- Past medical experiences.
- Direct painful and invasive treatments or soft tissue injuries could provoke fear or phobias, which last for a long time.
Avoid using scary words like injection, drill or pain while talking to or in the presence of a child. The use of alternative words, which sound more soothing like ‘numbing the tooth, hand–piece etc makes a huge difference. Don’t forget to educate your child about the importance of good oral health in their life and be very careful that you do not transmit your own fear of the dentist to the child,” he advises.