The Pediatric Dentist
Thursday, December 2, 2004
Dear Dr. Mady: My 3 year old daughter visited our dentist for fillings and would not let him near her. She is very afraid and I explained my concern that she may fear dentists for the rest of her life. Because of this he recommended a pediatric dentist. What exactly do they do differently and do you think it will help her get over her fear?-Manal in Central Windsor
Dear Manal: It sounds like your dentist is giving you good sound advice. If a Child is apprehensive and uncooperative and treatment is forced on them at a young age, it could lead to a dental phobia. I see it very often, but children and parents from this era do have other options.
Pediatric dental specialists treat children from infancy to adolescence just like a pediatrician. They are dedicated to the oral health of children. They also focus on mentally and developmentally handicapped or compromised children. They have an additional two to three years of specialized education related to pediatric treatment and they focus only on these aspects of dentistry. This specialization allows them to provide the most up-to-date thorough child dentistry for a wide variety of children’s dental problems.
If required, they can use different types of sedation to make treatment possible and hospital dentistry may be offered to you, depending on the specific needs of your child and amount of treatment required.
Pediatric dentists communicate with your child in a special way that assists them with behavior modification and establishes more trust. Once this trust exists, acceptance of treatment becomes a much more attainable goal. They can provide excellent dental care for your daughter in a caring and sometimes exciting environment.
Children, in reality, are like “small grown ups” but they have totally different physical and emotion needs. When they have fear or apprehensiveness about something, they react differently than adults, and we can not expect anything but this. The pediatric dentist places your child in an environment specifically suited to them and the stage of life that they are in.
During your child’s first visit to the pediatric dentist, you can get all of your questions answered and if needed, your daughter can just meet and talk to the doctor and staff. Depending on the situation and level of comfort, she may have a cleaning and fluoride treatment completed, with x-rays, if they were not taken prior to then. A treatment plan will be made after that and presented to you.
The staff members in these specialty clinics are programmed to put your child at ease. They often have lots of nice books, video games and movies to keep your child occupied and in a comfort zone. If they request that you are not present during treatment, accept this unless the separation anxiety during the first visit or two interferes with treatment.
I know you probably think your family dentist is fabulous, but keep in mind that your three year old daughter is looking at everything through three year old eyes, and perceives everything differently than you do. The normal treatment that you are used to may just frighten the daylights out of your daughter. If dental visits are more relaxing and enjoyable for your child, it may be the beginning of a lifelong trusting relationship with “the dentist”.
This column is reprinted with the permission of the author and The Windsor Star. "Ask the Dentist" is written by Windsor dentist (and ECDS member), Dr. David Mady Jr.. The column appears the first Thursday of each month in the Windsor Star. Readers with questions can write to "Ask The Dentist", c/o The Windsor Star, 167 Ferry St., Windsor Ontario, N9A 4M5