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Should I Stay With My Child During Treatment?

For some of us, there comes a time where our little one has a cavity (or sugar bug!!) that needs treatment with our dentist. It can be a time of anxiety for both the child and the parents as we embark into a new experience with new sights, smells, and sounds. If our children have heard scary stories from their favorite uncle about the last time HE went to the dentist, the fear can be compounded. For us as parents, we often revert back to our own negative or traumatic experiences as children or young adults (or maybe even as grown-ups) and can unconsciously pass that fear and anxiety on to our children.

The burning question for many parents is – should I stay with my child in treatment, or should I let them go it alone in the hands of our dentist?

Really, the first question should be one of trust. Do I have a good relationship with my dentist, and do I trust their training, expertise, and judgment in relating to my child? Does my child trust the dentist and his or her assistants – and will they feel comfortable whether I am present or outside the room? If you can answer yes, then you can easily proceed to the next question. If no, perhaps assess why there is not a feeling of trust and security in your dental home. Explore whether that can change, or whether the dental office itself may not be the best fit for your family.  The AAPD also recommends that you visit a pediatric dentist (kid’s dentist) because they have had additional training to diagnose treatment in children and they generally relate much better to children than a general dentist would.

The second question you should explore is whether your child tends to behave differently in times of anxiety when you are present, or when you are not present. Do you have a little drama queen on your hands, or does your child instead use your presence as a sense of security. All of us are familiar with our children behaving in a variety of ways, and sometimes when we are not present – their listening ears are much more attuned to the only other authority in the room; the dentist.

Sometimes our young children can have a tough time when we leave them with someone else, but helping them understand that they are safe and secure, and that you’re waiting nearby can lower the stress. Here are a few ways we have found helpful to alleviate anxiety and help children into a new experience.

*Be sure your child is rested and not hungry. For children experiencing treatment with laughing gas (nitrous oxide), they should not have anything heavy to eat for about 90 minutes prior to the appointment, but ensuring they had a good meal and are rested are important.

*Do some “trial runs”. If this is the first treatment for your child, and they tend to be nervous about the unknown, schedule a time with your dental office to do an acclimation visit. For example, at World of Smiles, Pediatric Dentistry – we offer a 30 minute acclimation visit in the treatment room practicing with all of the tools and sounds, with an assistant there to tell and show the child what will happen at the next visit. Or if an acclimation visit isn’t an option, perhaps visiting the office once a week or once every two weeks and playing in the playroom or reception area to familiarize your child with the environment and that visiting the dentist is fun and easy!

*Be consistent in your words and actions. If your child responds well to stories, go to the library together and pick out some books about the dentist. Find stories about children or characters that have had to treat a cavity so the child can see their favorite character learning about the experience and not being afraid. Be sure to teach your child how brushing and eating healthy foods are important for strong teeth. Talk about cavities and decay, and make up silly words together (cavities = sugar bugs) to make the story fun, believable, and imaginative for your child.

*Stay strong! Don’t let crying or tantrums keep you from sticking to your decision. Treating decay and restoring your child to health is the first priority and it’s important that treatment can be completed in the most positive way possible.

Some offices may not give parents a choice of whether they can stay with their child, and others will have guidelines in place for the safety of your child and any other children you may bring with you. Know that whatever choice you make, your child is in the hands of thoroughly trained professionals that work with children every day and have their best interests in mind!

Additional sources: www.nemours.org

Treatment: To stay or not to stay?

For some of us, there comes a time where our little one has a cavity (or sugar bug!!) that needs treatment with our dentist. It can be a time of anxiety for both the child and the parents as we embark into a new experience; with new sights, smells, and sounds. If our children have heard scary stories from their favorite uncle about the last time HE went to the dentist, the fear can be compounded. For us as parents, we often revert back to our own negative or traumatic experiences as children or young adults (or maybe even as grown-ups) and can unconsciously pass that fear and anxiety on to our children.

The burning question for many parents is – should I stay with my child in treatment, or should I let them go it alone in the hands of our dentist?

Really, the first question should be one of trust. Do I have a good relationship with my dentist, and do I trust their training, expertise, and judgment in relating to my child? Does my child trust the dentist and his or her assistants – and will they feel comfortable whether I am present or outside the room? If you can answer yes, then you can easily proceed to the next question. If no, perhaps assess why there is not a feeling of trust and security in your dental home. Explore whether that can change, or whether the dental office itself may not be the best fit for your family.  The AAPD also recommends that you visit a pediatric dentist (kid’s dentist) because they have had additional training to diagnose treatment in children and they generally relate much better to children than a general dentist would.

The second question you should explore is whether your child tends to behave differently in times of anxiety when you are present, or when you are not present. Do you have a little drama queen on your hands, or does your child instead use your presence as a sense of security. All of us are familiar with our children behaving in a variety of ways, and sometimes when we are not present – their listening ears are much more attuned to the only other authority in the room; the dentist.

Sometimes our young children can have a tough time when we leave them with someone else, but helping them understand that they are safe and secure, and that you’re waiting nearby can lower the stress. Here are a few ways we have found helpful to alleviate anxiety and help children into a new experience.

*Be sure your child is rested and not hungry. For children experiencing treatment with laughing gas (nitrous oxide), they should not have anything heavy to eat for about 90 minutes prior to the appointment, but ensuring they had a good meal and are rested are important.

*Do some “trial runs”. If this is the first treatment for your child, and they tend to be nervous about the unknown, schedule a time with your dental office to do an acclimation visit. For example, at World of Smiles, Pediatric Dentistry – we offer a 30 minute acclimation visit in the treatment room practicing with all of the tools and sounds, with an assistant there to tell and show the child what will happen at the next visit. Or if an acclimation visit isn’t an option, perhaps visiting the office once a week or once every two weeks and playing in the playroom or reception area to familiarize your child with the environment and that visiting the dentist is fun and easy!

*Be consistent in your words and actions. If your child responds well to stories, go to the library together and pick out some books about the dentist. Find stories about children or characters that have had to treat a cavity so the child can see their favorite character learning about the experience and not being afraid. Be sure to teach your child how brushing and eating healthy foods are important for strong teeth. Talk about cavities and decay, and make up silly words together (cavities = sugar bugs) to make the story fun, believable, and imaginative for your child.

*Stay strong! Don’t let crying or tantrums keep you from sticking to your decision. Treating decay and restoring your child to health is the first priority and it’s important that treatment can be completed in the most positive way possible.

Some offices may not give parents a choice of whether they can stay with their child, and others will have guidelines in place for the safety of your child and any other children you may bring with you. Know that whatever choice you make, your child is in the hands of thoroughly trained professionals that work with children every day and have their best interests in mind!

Additional sources: www.nemours.org

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