Your child’s experience is largely affected by his or her preconception and what you communicate to him or her prior to the visit.
Best practices in preparing your child:
- Avoid surprises: discuss the reason for the visit and explain how going to the dentist will make them feel better.
- Be positively suggestive: Telling a child “you will not have any pain” may suggest to them that there will be pain, otherwise why would you bring it up? It is better to make positive suggestions like: “You will have a happy tooth again,” or “You will be able to eat again,” or “This will help to bring your adult teeth in sooner,” etc.
- Use non-threatening dialogue
- Build a positive image of the oral surgeon or dentist: Telling a child “they won’t hurt you” can suggest the possibility that they might. Instead tell them “Dr. Kazemi is a very friendly guy and he is going to be very gentle in taking care of you.”
- Build confidence through association with mass: People, including children, feel better when they know a lot of other people are doing the same thing. You can tell your child “A lot of kids your age have seen Dr. Kazemi and they all have done really well and were very happy. You are going to love him like all the others.”
- Create the perception for your child that he or she is in charge: Children respond well to making decision and not being forced into it. You can do this by telling them: “Dr. Kazemi will ask you a lot of questions and he won’t do anything you don’t want him to. You can give him permission for everything he does.” We use this communication strategy often and it has been very successful.
- Discuss laughing gas: Describe nitrous oxide as “a laughing gas that will make you feel comfortable, relaxed, a bit sleepy, and funny”
- Discuss IV sedation: Describe IV sedation as “getting very sleepy to remove your sick baby tooth. All it involves is a small and quick pinch in your arm, and the rest is easy.”