Dr. van Beek truly enjoys working with children (photos below).
Dentistry has improved greatly over the past several decades, and going to the dentist can and should be a happy experience. There are a few things parents can be aware of to make certain everything goes well. Here are some answers to common questions:
The Canadian Dental Association encourages the assessment of young children, by a dentist, around age 2-3 years, during the eruption of their primary teeth. The goal is to have your child visit the dentist before there is a problem with his or her teeth. In most cases, a check-up every six months will let your child’s dentist catch small problems early. We suggest bringing them once or twice to see the office and watch a parent of older sibling have their checkup; this ensures that they won’t feel intimidated by a strange place when it’s their turn later. It is important that the person they are watching provide a good example; if you are nervous or uncomfortable in the dental chair have your child watch someone else.
Depending on the age of the child we may do an orientation only at the first visit. This would involve a ride in the chair, show them the mouth mirror and “tooth counter” (explorer) and do a quick examination of their mouth. This allows the child to familiarize themselves with the office, Dr. van Beek and the clinical team, and put them at ease. We want to make it fun for them.
An older more experienced child will have a thorough examination done of teeth and gums, checking for cavities and orthodontic problems. We will polish their teeth and give them a fluoride treatment. The need for x-rays in a child varies depending on age. We’ll give children an oral hygiene lesson and explain oral hygiene care to their parent as well.
1. To find out if the oral hygiene you do at home is working.
2. Your dentist can find problems right away and fix them.
3. Your child can learn that going to the dentist helps prevent problems.
The most important advice is not to over-prepare them. Young children normally find fillings an easy and painless experience if they aren’t given any preconceptions. A long, detailed discussion is unnecessary and may lead the child to expect a difficult time. Be as casual and positive for a filling appointment as you were for the first visit; we’ll explain what we’re doing before we do it.
Dr. van Beek will go through this story to help make your child feel comfortable, understand what we are doing and at the same time have fun and help with the procedure. Sugar-bugs are little bugs that make holes in your teeth when you eat too much candy or don’t brush your teeth enough. Because sugar bugs are so small, I need special glasses to see them. Then I will show them my special sugar bug glasses, and if they help me out, I will show them some sugar bugs.
The next step is putting their teeth to sleep (local anaesthesia) because the sugar bugs are really fast and we need to make them sleepy to catch them. I will tell them to stay open really big “like a lion” so that I can catch them. We will show them our special tools: Little Mr. Thirsty (low-volume saliva ejector), Big Mr. Thirsty (high-volume salvia ejector), Mr. Whistle (high-speed hand piece) Mr. Bumpy (low-speed hand piece), and Elephant nose (Nitrous oxide mask).
Words like “drill”, “needle” and “hurt” are unnecessary, and should be carefully avoided. Similarly, telling child that needle won’t HURT does not reassure them! If you have to discuss it with young children, talk about tooth cleaners and putting teeth to sleep, even if it feels silly.
If your child is easily tired or frustrated, consider making their appointments in the morning. Finally, remember how strange it feels to have your lips and tongue numb. Young children should be reminded not to chew on their lips until the feeling returns.
Usually no, sometimes, we like to have a parent available for the first appointment in case a shy child needs the emotional security. However, once the child gets to know us they usually do better on their own. This is because young children’s attention spans are easily divided by the presence of extra adults in the room.
Children are very in tune with their parents’ emotional state and body language. They quickly absorb a parent’s anxiety and become anxious themselves. Unless you are very relaxed about dental treatment, it would be better for Mom and Dad to relax in the reception area.