Saturday, 8 August 2015

Finding a Great Dentist for Nervous Children

Boy in Dentist Chair with Title OverlaidL, who is 9, has been struggling with severe dental phobia for most of his life and I made it my mission this year to finally tackle it, before his adult teeth started to suffer. It is actually really hard to take your little boy somewhere that you know fills him with fear and dread, to the point where even the word 'dentist' causes physical distress and tears, so I hadn't been as strict as I should have been with his six monthly check ups. I did take him, but not as often as I should. No one knows where the phobia came from, I had never expressed fear of the dentist and had taken him since he was a toddler, but it gradually got worse over time.

He had already had one extraction, which just made things even worse and I couldn't let the situation carry on any longer. I wondered if perhaps another dentist might improve things, maybe ours wasn't as sympathetic as he could be to L's phobia. I couldn't help thinking there must be dentists out there who had experience of phobic children, who could at least get us to a point where we could walk in the door, without the need for bribery and subterfuge.

So, I did some research into dentists in our area, using this NHS Dentist Search. It is such a useful tool, it gives information on what services each one provides and, most helpfully, it allows patients to leave reviews, so I felt really informed about the strengths of each practice. One surgery really stood out to me, it had great reviews, which seemed to focus a lot on the friendliness of the staff, which I thought was exactly what we needed! I gave them a ring and explained the problem. They were very understanding and keen to help and spent some time talking to me about how best to handle the situation and it was agreed, I would bring him in for a look round, with no examination initially. This was a great idea, because the first time he walked in, he knew he had nothing to fear. He still got quite nervous, but the staff were so lovely to him. It's a genuinely welcoming place anyway, the staff seem to get on well and are happy in their work, which creates a lovely atmosphere to walk into. They all introduced themselves and remembered his name. The nurses wear pink, so it's hard to be intimidated by the uniform, which is a nice touch! They showed him around and he even sat in the chair, once they showed him how it worked and let him press the up-down button! It was helpful to me, too, to see him looking so much more confident about the whole experience.

Boy in Dentist Chair

On his next visit, he was allowed to sit on my lap in the chair and saw the same dentist as last time, another aspect that seemed to calm his nerves. She managed to get a good look at his teeth and it was revealed that, as I suspected, there was some damage. The dentist was unsure if he might need another extraction, so she suggested he be referred to the dental hospital, as he would probably need a general anaesthetic if he needed any teeth out. He was having three-monthly appointments by this stage, to get him used to going. That way, he didn't have a chance to forget that it wasn't all that scary between visits! By the time the hospital appointment came around, he had attended a further visit to the surgery and was noticeably less nervous. On the day, we had a picnic in Castle Park beforehand, and his sister came along for moral support. I was trying very hard not to let him know I was worried for him, and we talked about trying to look on new experiences as adventures and not to be scared of them. He seemed to really take to this idea, particularly having an Xray, as he'd never had one before. When we arrived at the hospital, he was really good while we waited and his sister did a great job of distracting him with stories.

Two children in a waiting room


I was amazed, when it was his turn to be seen, he was like a different child! Didn't get upset at all and even told another little boy not to be scared! He had his Xray, and the dentist decided the teeth were due to fall out soon anyway, so no further treatment was required! Now, all that we need to do is keep up with his appointments, which will be much easier now he is calmer about the whole subject. I am so relieved we have finally got to this stage, I am glad I finally tackled it and would recommend to anyone else going through a similar issue to perhaps look for a new dentist, if it's not improving. It might seem like an impossible task, but it can get better and the sooner it's dealt with the better; for the child and their teeth. I didn't want L to grow up to be phobic as an adult and hopefully now, that won't happen.


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29 comments

Tina Holmes said...

How fantastic it's lovely went they have a lovely experience.

angela hamilton said...

that is fantastic. Our dentist is great with the kids, we have a child smile dentist, they let them play in the chair for a few minutes, explain what they are doing, tell some very dodgy jokes and the kids get a sticker at the end.
It makes such a massive difference, and takes that fear away

oana79 said...

It makes such a difference, having understanding and caring staff to deal with, doesn't it? I am glad he didn't need an extraction this time, hopefully the frequent check-ups will keep everything under control now!xx

Jen Walshaw said...

What a fab dentist. It isn't just nervous children, I have a real phobia about the dentist after having all four wisdom teeth pulled when Maxi was 12 weeks old. I was in such a state it tool a really good dentist to calm me down and get me back in the chair and I am an adult. In fact it was because I wanted the boys to not have the fear that I sorted it in the end. So hats off to you an d him for being super brave

Rachel Heap said...

I have 3 kids and our dentists is really great and i couldnt ask for any better i must be pretty lucky

Erica Price said...

I'd not really thought about children having dental phobia before. Thankfully H likes going, but I think you are right to have picked out the right dentist for your child. Ours is a friendly guy with kids about the same age as H so he's well tuned in.

Louise said...

It is so important to get the right dentist for kids. Good for you for making it an all round not too painful experience x

JuggleMum, Nadine Hill said...

I'm glad that he had a good experience - what a relief for you!

jaime oliver said...

awww this sounds like a lovely practice. I am terrified of Dentists .. maybe i ought to go too!

Michelle Twin Mum said...

Having a dentst sensitive to a childs needs is so important, we are veyr lucky with our current one. Mich x

Sonia said...

So pleased he's found a great dentist and had a good experience. I hope it eases his phobia for future visits x

Joanne Dewberry said...

I've been taking my kids to the dentist since they were born obvs nothing really happened but they got used to being in there and the smells, sounds etc. Great news that they were so good with your children.

beautyqueenuk said...

I am so glad he got to have a positive experience, admittedly it isnt one of my favourite places to visit x

Jibber JabberUK said...

We're going on Tuesday to the dentist. The kids aren't bothered about going but it terrifies me!

Gemma Allen said...

what a fab dentist you have. so glad its all turned out positive

Rachel H said...

I know just how he feels, I have a huge phobia about the dentist... my heart is pounding just thinking about it. I need to look around to see if there is a local dentist that can help me as my current on isn't being very nice.
I'm glad Luke is happier at the new dentist and well done you on finding a great one to help him!

Laura said...

What an amazing dentist. I've been petrified for as long as I can remember. I've finally found someone that has kept me calm enough to check me over now!

Kara Guppy said...

Our dentist is fab - gives them funky glasses to wear and is calm and patient!

Erika said...

It is always great when people go the extra mile to make you or your children feel comfortable.

lisa prince said...

oh i have to admit im the biggest wimp when it comes to the dentist

Eva Trelfa said...

wonderful artical. Its so important to get kids used to the dentists and important for the dentists to be as non intimidating and kid friendly as possible

Mums do travel said...

You both did so well! It's great that you took the time to help Luke with this issue and that you found the right dentist for him. I hope that his phobia is now behind him.

Claire Toplis said...

Thank you fir writing about this ~ I'm nervous of dentists . You have given me confidance to look

Michelle Ashmore said...

I hate taking mine to the dentist but it's more about my fears than theirs!

Happy Homebird said...

I was at the dentist today :) I don't mind it as I've had a lot of cosmetic work done. My son though has autism and goes to a special needs dentist and they are very good. Well done to your son for doing so well x

Michelle Ordever said...

So glad you found a great dentist, and that your son is now a lot less scared than he used to be. x

Kizzy said...

I have a major dental fear and my youngest has recently developed one too. It's something I need to face or my three will suffer

Anonymous said...

I have The Fear too and am keen not to let on to our little one, thanks for posting this, even I felt slightly more relaxed after reading :) #bestandworst

Sarah Howe - Run Jump Scrap said...

Thank goodness Luke's fear seems to have dwindled a bit and he seems to feel better about the dentist. Must be such a relief. I had a lot of work done as a child and so did hubby so we know my daughter will do too. Luckily she has been ok so far and talks about the dentist a lot. I hope all goes well from now on. Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst and see you soon xx

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