Disclaimer :: This sponsored post was crafted by the dental experts at Legacy Pediatric and Adolescent Dentistry.
Have you ever watched the movie Finding Nemo, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or Horton Hears a Who? These are a few children’s movies that portray dentists as scary or bad characters. The media often paints the picture of dentistry in a negative way. Even though this is being done in most cases for comic relief, it has an unintentional consequence of producing anxiety resulting in a real fear. Through this post, we hope to address a more positive approach toward dentistry and change this perception.
In preparing your child for his or her dental visit, one thing to keep in mind is that children pick up on parental fears and anxieties. Parents who have had negative experiences with the dentist can relay these feelings to their children. We encourage parents to talk about the dental visit with their child in a positive way. Be honest with your child about what will happen at the visit. If he or she asks questions, try to avoid using scary words like shot, needle, poke, etc. Never use a dental visit or procedure as a punishment. (For example, “If you are not good, they are going to give you a shot.”)
Another thing to keep in mind is that it is important to schedule your child’s visit at the best time of day for him or her. Try to avoid scheduling during nap times and meal times. We have found that younger children generally do better with morning appointments. When scheduling your child’s appointment, we welcome you to tell us things about your child that may make his or her visit more enjoyable. These can include nicknames, hobbies and activities, and favorite toys and preferences (princesses, super heroes, trains, etc.).
One thing you can do before your child’s visit is to practice going to the dentist before the appointment. There are multiple books and videos about going to the dentist that you can read or watch with your child prior to the visit. A couple of examples are Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer and Curious George Visits the Dentist by H.A. Rey, but there are many more as well. We encourage you to role play before their initial exam using a doll or stuffed animal. This can help decrease anxiety of the unknown. You can also practice having your child opening his or her mouth, and you looking at his or her teeth. We welcome a tour of the office before the initial visit. This allows you and your child to become more comfortable in our dental environment.
A method that we utilize in the office to alleviate fear is Tell-Show-Do. This is a technique using verbal explanation at the child’s level (Tell); demonstrating for patients what they will see, hear, and feel (Show); and then completing the procedure as described (Do). The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has outlined the goal of Tell-Show-Do as familiarizing the patient with aspects of the visit while also providing well-described expectations. We often use models of the teeth or stuffed animals with teeth to demonstrate for children what we are going to do. We also try to show them what things feel like on their fingers before doing anything to the teeth. We have found the Tell-Show-Do method to be very effective in the dental office.
We realize that every visit cannot be perfect, but, by appropriate preparation, we can have a fun and positive experience. We have found children that enjoy going to the dentist generally have a healthier oral cavity that extends throughout life. We are committed to providing quality care for our patients in a safe and fun environment. We strive to educate our families in an honest and relational manner that instills trust. We believe above all, compassion towards each person can change a life.
Dr. Dan Doss grew up in Kemp, Texas before making the move to Fort Worth to attend TCU. He attended dental school and a two-year residency in the specialty of Pediatric Dentistry at the University of Texas School of Dentistry in Houston. He has been married to Maureen (Mo) for 35 years and has two grown children, Michael and Kaydee and a daughter-in-law Megan and son-in-law Brant. He also took on the role of granddad in February 2014 when granddaughter Norah was born. He enjoys reading, playing golf, and spending time with family and friends.
Dr. Liz Gold grew up in Palestine, Texas. She attended Texas A&M University where she graduated in 2006 and proceeded to continue her education at the University of Texas School of Dentistry in Houston where she completed both dental school and residency. She has four siblings and three in-laws and loves her job as aunt to Luke, Emma, Abby, and soon to be new niece in March. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, running, Aggie football games, and spending time with family and friends.
Dr. Doss and Dr. Gold practice at Legacy Pediatric & Adolescent Dentistry in Southwest Fort Worth. They are both Diplomates of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry and members of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry as well as local, state, and national dental societies. You can follow them on Facebook and Instagram.