Tips on preparing your child for a trip to the dentist without emphasizing pain
Keith L. Ray, DMD wants every child to look forward to every dental visit at Great Grins Children’s Dental Specialists. Yes, even when there is dental disease like decay needing repair. Children love to have fun and we make every attempt to have every appointment, not only be pain-free, but fun… to the point where children actually want to come back soon for their next visit. Dr. Ray explains to children that no one wants “sick teeth”, but if you do have sick teeth, fixing them is easy.
Please, do not let your previous, possible “bad” experiences at the dental office be a negative reinforcement to your children. Do not ever state, “Now, you have to have a filling and maybe a shot because you didn’t take care of your teeth”. Unfortunately, that association will make your child feel nervous about their dental visit. Do not tell your child, “It won’t hurt”… If someone told you, “Don’t worry, It won’t hurt”, before you walked into a party, you might also have second thoughts.
Prepare your child as if they are going to a party. Tell your child, “You are going to have fun… They are going to clean your teeth, count your teeth… I am not sure exactly what they are going to do, but I know Dr. Ray said it will be easy and you will have fun!… And, if you are a good helper, they will let you have a toy when you’re done!” Believe it or not, we have children laugh and giggle… and sometimes tired children will even take naps while everything from fillings, to surgery is occuring.
The treatment of every child and every procedure is individualized. Most dental repairs or treatment require nothing more than possibly a little numbing jelly on the gum and Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas) with lots of behavioral management through one-on-one chit-chat and happy attention directed to the child. More extensive treatment and/or extractions or surgery may require “numbing” with an injection, but with the goal of the child never knowing they even received a “shot”. Unless someone scares the child before they get to the appointment, letting them know that they are going to receive an injection, they usually never know… and don’t care.
Dr. Ray may suggest that certain very young children or children with significant behavioral or medical challenges be directed toward having their treatment completed with sedation, or with general anesthesia at the hospital.