Visits to the dentist have always been surrounded by a certain negativity, and even outright fear, due to prejudices about how painful dental treatments can be or how uncomfortable or unpleasant the process of taking care of our oral health can be. Nowadays, however, things have changed for the better in everything that surrounds dental clinics.
The problem why many children come to the clinic with a certain fear has to do with their parents. And the fact is that many adults have bad memories associated with visits to the dentist during their childhood, because dentists, like teachers or professors, are professionals who remain in our memories, for better or worse, and especially in these childhood ages when these experiences are magnified.
However, as a paediatric dentist at Vélez y Lozano I can affirm that these experiences have no place in our clinic, where we always try to make the visit pleasant, calm and even fun so that they remember us fondly and turn the generational tortilla around.
It is common and inevitable for children to feel a certain fear and rejection of everything new, especially those things that have to do with white coats, which is why it is in our hands as parents to teach them that a visit to the dentist is necessary, but it does not necessarily have to be a bad thing.
I am Vanesa RicoI am a paediatric dentist at Vélez y Lozano, and I would like to give you the advice I always give when it comes to introducing the little ones to this new adventure in the best possible way:
- Their first visit to the paediatric dentist should be early. We should attend their first check-up with the eruption of their first teeth, so that the child's first contact with the dentist's office is not for something unpleasant such as an extraction or a filling. In addition, at this visit they will explain how to brush their teeth, what toothpaste to use and how often, what foods to avoid, and we will carry out a first general check-up to ensure that everything is going well.
- Before that first visit, we can show them videos or books where characters brush their teeth and visit a dental clinic. Among the most popular ones, in my experience, are Pepa Pig, Simon, Once upon a time, The stories of Lucia my paediatrician...
This is one way to eliminate the 'fear of the unknown' factor because they will have already seen it in their favourite characters!
- If there is already a caries, trauma or dental anomaly, we should always visit a clinic that has a doctor specialising in paediatric dentistry. Their training, empathy and patience (often the result of experience) will make it a fun experience for them and they are also used to explaining the treatment to be carried out in a simple and understandable way for the little ones, which undoubtedly helps them to be more relaxed.
- There are several online games and applications where they can put themselves in the shoes of a real dentist, having fun removing 'bugs' (cavities), brushing teeth or making fillings with plasticine and using instruments in shapes similar to those of a real dentist's surgery.
- It is important that at home we do not talk about negative experiences we have had at dental visits, that we do not refer to such a visit as something unpleasant in their presence, nor annoying, and that we do not warn them that it will be painful.
- Do not use the dentist as a negative threatening presence. For example, instead of saying things like "the dentist will take your teeth out if they go bad" to get them to brush their teeth, we can refer to "they will turn black because there will be bugs" if we don't remove leftover food from their teeth, which is also more plausible and will help them understand the real process of tooth decay.
- It is important that we attend check-ups, as we rely heavily on the popular saying that 'prevention is better than cure'. So, if they go regularly, as we focus a lot on oral hygiene, remind them of tips to improve brushing in a simple and fun way and also motivate them with games and prizes, they will stop associating these check-ups or visits to the dentist in general as an experience in which they are diagnosed with caries and treatments, and they will stop associating clinics with something that is always negative.
- If we start with a memory that is not very pleasant, or that has even caused night terrors, we will try to modify it by means of simple check-ups, going little by little, and we can always use the so-called 'laughing gas'. However, in those cases in which we have to carry out more complex treatments involving several teeth, we recommend doing them under deep sedation with anaesthetists. The child will not remember much beyond the hospital visit and this will help us to generate new memories in which he or she will gradually lose the fear.
- The best advice I can give you is: Come to Vélez y Lozano! The opinions of the parents who come to the clinic endorse us.
Author: Vanesa Rico