Parental tips for best psychological preparation of your child
By: Abbass El-Outa, BDS, DES Clinical Management
Contact the autor: @abbasstbh
Be informed of detailed treatment plan of your child and ask whatever questions you have; however, limit discussion and questioning with the dentist in front of the child.
Strictly avoid using dental treatment as a threatening tool: “I’ll tell the dentist to pull your tooth or you give you an injection if you do not comply.”
Use the same non-threatening vocab as the dental team (“tickle” as a substitute for “hurt”, “put the tooth to sleep” for “anaesthetise the tooth”, “pudding” for “alginate”, “water gun” for “water syringe”, “tooth paint” for “sealant” …)
Encourage the child to improve her/his readiness by “playing dentist” on a doll or with the parent.
Hide own dental anxiety in front of the child, or, if not possible, have the child accompanied by an adult who is not anxious.
Avoid using unhelpful reassurance and giving false hope that will, on the contrary, raise child’s anxiety, such as: “The dentist won’t hurt you,” or “There is no need to worry.” Besides, expressions such as, “Everything will be fine,” and “You won’t feel a thing,” often lead to child’s disappointment and loss of trust in both the parent the dentist as such expressions are often not precise.
Do not insist that the dentist starts with a relatively major dental procedure in the child’s first couple of visits to the dental office. Let the child have the most pleasant first experience with minimal intervention.
Follow the dentist’s advice on home preparation of the child and your attitude in the office and cooperate with her/him as much as possible for the best management.
Eventually, it is very normal for a child present to a strange environment to cry and refuse being inspected by a stranger. Consequently, choose a dentist you trust and who is competent in paediatric dentistry, cooperate with her/him, and be a positive model for your child in order for him to have the most pleasant dental experience that would, hopefully, last a lifetime.
About the Author
Lebanese dental surgeon practicing in Beirut, Lebanon.
Private practice comprises general dental care including paediatric dentistry, specialized public programmes and community dentistry, aesthetic dentistry and others.
Currently, pursuing post-graduate studies at the Lebanese University School of Dental Medicine.
Published and ongoing research projects.
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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