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The world is filled with adults who really hate dental treatment and the dislike often stems from bad past experiences (especially as a child).  Fortunately, parents can do a few simple things to ensure that their children will not have to suffer from the same distaste for dentistry.

Dentistry keeps getting better in so many ways and it is certainly more comfortable.  Admittedly, having a tooth filled is not yet entertainming;  there can be occassional pinches, tugs, burning sensations, etc., but we really do try to minimize them (it's human nature!). 

It is reasonable that children fear the unknown.  And since they don’t know what dentistry is about, they look for clues.  They hear dentist jokes on TV, listen to exaggerated tales from their friends, but mostly, they look to their parents for answers.  And parents can inadvertently send messages they have no intention of giving.

Consider this:  If a child goes for their first haircut with the warnings, “it won’t hurt much”, “you are a brave little girl”, or “if you are good, we can get ice cream later”, they will expect trouble.  And the haircut will probably be mixed with a lot of tears.   All you have to do is tell a child “it won’t hurt” and they will wonder “why the warning?”  There will be an expectation of pain.  And expected pain will make even a pinch feel much, much worse.

Parents act out of love, but hand-holding, coddling, and promises for rewards can create a negative expectation.  Children then learn that a demonstration of discomfort will be met with even more attention and love.  In extreme cases, the child becomes more and more resistant and ultimately needs specialty care for treatment.

What’s the answer?  There are several:​


• Parents would do best to hide their own negative feelings.  In fact, display "positive" enthusiasm (“when I was a kid, we would have a contest to see who could brush their teeth the longest”).

• Avoid the four letter H and P words (“hurt” and “pain”).  There is also no need to make references to bravery.

• We work with parents to create an environment where dental visits are just another ordinary routine in life.  We encourage parents to bring their toddlers to their cleaning visits to learn by example that dental visits are a pleasant and routine part of life.  Families are comfortable in our caring, informal and casual environment.  We'll talk a little about school, pets, sports and teeth.  We especially like to share photos of our own children with our new young patients - it helps them to understand that we are loving and caring people just like their moms and dads.

That’s about it.  We hope you take these remarks as a positive attempt to make your child’s dental visits as enjoyable as possible.

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