Dental fear and anxiety, commonly referred to as DFA, is a phenomenon that is highly common in children and adolescents alike, and this acts as a major restraint for any adult or even a dentist to properly treat a child with the appropriate dental aids. The struggle could be insurmountable and the result could be an inadequate investigation into the dental treatments required by the child. A study published by the NCBI suggests that 5-20% of children worldwide have DFA, and this further raises the concern. The need to properly aid a child in overcoming the fear of a dentist relies both on the parent of the child, and the dentist. This article lists out 3 tips each for parents and dentists to help kids overcome the fear of dental treatment.
3 Tips for the parents:
1. Being a role model
To prepare your child for seeing the dentist in the future, it is highly advised that you take him with you on your visits to the dentist, and let him watch the procedures while you get treated. During this time, you must act completely comfortable, to leave an impression on your child that the experience is not painful at all. This is not just a vague advise. The Social Learning Theory in modern psychology suggests that children tend to learn and pick up attitudes towards something, based on the observations that he or she makes in society.
2. Role Play
Role play is another useful tip for adequately preparing your child before going to the dentist. Play the role of a dentist and let your child play passive in this context. Educate your child by using this play as an opportunity, to let him or her learn about the procedures in dental treatment. Keep this as fun as possible, since you should remember the fact that the attitude your child picks up from the role play, would be the same attitude with which he or she would be going to the dentist.
3. Start Early
Having ensured that you do practice the two tips listed above, the final thing you have to ensure is that you do start early. Do not let your child to have the time to get influenced by the stereotypical perceptions about going to the dentist, and act quickly on influencing him or her with the required positives.
The Dentist’s Role:
If you are a dentist reading this article, chances are that you have faced more tantrums from children than what has been faced by the parents of the children! The following tips are likely to help you cope with this.
1. Keep it friendly
Make the child feel as comfortable as you possibly can inside your clinic. This is something that you probably do already, but may not be doing right. The best tactics to use here include keeping a friendly voice and tone, using simple words to describe the procedure that you would be going through, and even praising and complimenting the child.
2. Going the extra mile to comfort
As a dentist, you may not allow toys or dolls inside your dental clinic. However, if you think about it, allowing them does more good than harm. Comforting and distracting is a tactic that could be highly effective in treating children. Let them be around and preoccupied with what comforts them, while you can do your job at subsequently better ease.
3. You can indeed use sedatives
Some of the sedatives like Nitro us Oxide or Valium could be effective mild sedatives, with no noticeable side effects at all! While the former is commonly known as the laughing gas, Valium is a proper sedative that is one of the few which are known to have the least or no side effects in children. This would ease the child’s pain, and hence, yours too!
Remember, whether you are a dentist, or a parent wanting to take your kid to one, persuasion is the key to overcoming the child’s fear. Children learn and believe what they are taught, and therefore, no matter how vehemently you adhere to the tips listed above, your own persuasion skills matter significantly!