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      From Fear to Fun: Creating Positive Dental Experiences for Children

      When children and their parents visit me at the clinic, one of the things I focus on is raising awareness about the importance of oral hygiene, as it plays a crucial role in our lives and overall health. For instance, teeth not only beautify our face, making us look and feel good, but they also enable us to speak properly. Without our teeth, tasks like eating, laughing, and pronouncing words become extremely challenging, if not impossible.

      In general, dental treatments may cause anxiety and discomfort in adults due to factors like the dental chair's environment, the sound of the handpiece, and past negative experiences dating back to childhood. That's why I pay the utmost attention to reassuring my patients and reducing stress during their visit.

      As a dentist trained children's care, I want to emphasize that children are typically less conscious, more anxious, and more sensitive when interacting with healthcare providers. They are also more likely to develop fears or phobias if they are not treated with care and kindness.

      Through my review of recent research in pediatric dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) has confirmed that maintaining dental health is crucial for preventing orofacial diseases, pain, and infections, as well as restoring the shape and function of the teeth.

      Unfortunately, in our daily work at the pediatric dental clinic, we often see many parents who give less attention to the oral health of their children. However, it's crucial to emphasize the significance of initiating the oral health care journey from a young age. This early introduction helps children recognize the importance of maintaining their baby teeth to ensure they remain healthy, strong, and clean. By fostering these habits early on, children are better equipped to care for their permanent teeth as they grow older.

      Effectively managing children's behavior during a dental visit is crucial for the success of their treatment. As a dentist, I ensure that the dental room is well-equipped and thoughtfully designed to create a welcoming environment that ease stress for the child. Additionally, understanding the unique psychology and attitude of each child facilitates easier communication between the dentist and the child. Children's moods can vary, and they may sometimes feel fearful or tired, making it essential to adapt the approach accordingly.

      Using a recognized simple well-known technique called "Tell-Show-Do" helps familiarize the child with the dental procedures. This provides them with a clear understanding of what to expect throughout the treatment such as the “strange tools” we use inside the mouth. Additionally, this technique allows us to gain the child’s trust by giving him or her the opportunity to accept or decline each step of the treatment.

      Preferably during the very first visit, tough treatments like extraction and pulp therapy is not recommended. It is better to do simple procedures such as scaling and polish along with oral hygiene instructions. This is what you will see me doing during the dental visit with your kids.

      During a child’s very first visit, it is not recommended to do challenging treatments like extractions and pulp therapy right away. Instead, simple procedures such as scaling and polishing, along with oral hygiene instructions, are recommended. I use this approach to ensure a positive and comfortable experience for your children.

      We often recommend nitrous oxide sedation or laughing gas for children who have experienced trauma or are highly anxious about dental treatments. With this technique, a nose mask is used to deliver a combination of oxygen and nitrous oxide (a colorless gas) to help calm the patient and reduce their sensitivity to pain. Nitrous oxide sedation is completely safe for use in children, as endorsed by the AAPD.

      Author

      Dr. Leen Maksoud is a highly motivated, energetic, and passionate general dentist with a specific focus on children's dental care. She speaks Arabic and English.