Children experience many firsts: first tooth, first words, first step, first birthday and first haircut. Parents want to be prepared for every step of their child’s new life experiences, including dental visits. Only parents willing to model positive attitudes should accompany their child on a dental visit.
Parents averse to their own dental visits may transmit negative messages to children before, during and after a dental treatment. Fearful parents can actually create a nervous and anxious child. Parents who are afraid of the dentist need to change their mindset.
Most children are not only comfortable but even curious during a first dental exam and cavity-filling procedures. However, a child may become problematic when the accompanying parent laces soothing messages with hints of fear or anxiety and relays incorrect assumptions about procedures.
Parents who feel their child is anxious about a dental visit should ask us if we could schedule a PRE -VISIT. We use pre-visits to alleviate any fear or anxiety by acclimating them to our office environment. We will walk the child around the office, show them the tools, allow them to sit in the chair and even demonstrate on a family member to help them become comfortable.
Parents’ presence is support enough for the child. We emphasizes the importance of parental presence for the first exam and until the age of 4, for restorative treatments.
Pretreatment meetings with a dentist provide directions and guidelines for the parent if he or she wishes to accompany their child during treatment. Parents learn how to provide moral support and to maintain a low, calm voice. We suggest that the parent not “parrot” our requests but support us as the authority figure during procedures. It is also important for the same parent to accompany the child during each sequential visit to fill any cavities.
“A parent’s positive presence during early dental visits will empower a child to a lifetime of positive dental experiences.”