Dentist fears in young child - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 04-08-2013, 12:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello,

 

My soon to be 4 year old boy (less then a month away) seems to be afraid of the dentist. When he was very young (about 1) he had to have major sedation dentistry and four caps put on his upper front teeth due to poor tooth integrity. They never really said what was wrong, but that his teeth didn't form well in utero. Anyhow, he's been to the dentist since then, probably around a year ago. Although my son seemed shy and a bit nervous at first, he did fine the 2 or three times we went. I started using a dentist closer to our house so, since my son is overdue for a cleaning, I took him in and he just DID NOT do well. He was nervous, tantrummed, got angry, cried, and basically just melted down onto the floor and would not get up, even to leave. The dentist couldn't even get a peek inside his mouth (he hid himself inside my coat) and I had to carry him out, flailing and everything. I was obviously frustrated, and sad that it went that way.

 

I feel like he has some real fears about his mouth (he usually only lets me brush his teethe bc he says that it hurts when dad does it. He doesn't go to daycare/preschool and basically only interacts with me, DH, and my parents (my mom watches him for about 5 hours 2x per week, and he does fine). He's pretty shy of strangers and usually responds "inappropriately" when ppl try to say hello (like he blows a raspberry or just makes a squeak and hides behind me. He's really quite a ham at home and I'm not sure if this is a phase or how to really go about drawing him out. His vocabulary is great and he normally speaks very well, but I guess he just gets anxious. I sometimes try to model for him or (before or after a situation) we practice basic interactionary dialogue. Is this normal? I've kind of gotten off my dentist question, but I wonder if its all related, or how to deal with this whole situation. Thoughts appreciated!!!!!!

 

Sara


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#2 of 9 Old 04-08-2013, 12:50 PM
 
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Well after many years working in a dental office I can say this behavior is common if the child had a bad experience. The best thing you could do is take him to a cleanings of your to see you are ok. He won't watch the whole time so bring crayons or something. You could also buy a childrens book about going to the dentist, for some that helps. Then maybe play dentist at home. Take a flash light out and shine it in his mouth, count his teeth. Good luck!
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#3 of 9 Old 04-08-2013, 01:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the suggestions. Hopefully watching a cleaning or two of mine will do the trick.
 


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#4 of 9 Old 04-09-2013, 12:30 AM
 
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We managed to find a toy doctors set with a dentist's mirror in it and a crocodile glove puppet. Lot's of teeth to count there!

 

Our library has a shelf of books on things like starting school, going to the hospital and so on. We found a few dentist related ones on there, you can also find photos of children at the dentists online which helped our llittle guy a bit.

 

The  other thing our dentist has recommended is that we take him every 3 months rather than 6. Partly as she doesn't get much time to check his teeth each time but mostly so he has slightly less time to forget each visit before the next.

 

That said even with all the above our last visit ended in complete meltdown, like you I ended up carrying him out of the building! He's been reffered to the dental hospital for the work so we can try and keep the checkups drama free.

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#5 of 9 Old 04-13-2013, 04:51 PM
 
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Oh no! One thing I really liked at our pediatric dentist is that they had an isolation room with lots of rolling stools and a regular dental chair. While the child will fit, the dentist and hygienist will allow you to have your child straddle your lap, nose-to-nose with you. They then roll up knee-to-knee and the child lays back, still in your lap and still eye-to-eye with you. It worked marvelously for my two. Perhaps, in addition to visiting the dentist with you, you may see if they'd be willing to try something similar? Good luck!

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#6 of 9 Old 04-14-2013, 11:22 AM
 
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Slinden-- you basically described my son-- although he's just coming up to 3 years old. DS is very shy around new people, he won't say hello,goodbye, thank you, etc. to strangers, no matter how much prompting and pleading I try (and I've learned not to even try.) He stays home with me, but has been exposed to a fair amount of people (I did home childcare from the time DS was 6 months old until just recently) so I don't think the issue is not being "socialized"-- it's just DS's personality to be shy and introverted.

 

I took DS to the dentist at 18 months, and then again and 2.5- and both times he screamed the entire time and clung to me. It was rough-- for everyone.  I think the introverted/shy personalities and fear of the dentist are definitely related. I'm very introverted and hate going to the dentist and doctor because having people in my close space makes me really uncomfortable. I try to be understanding of DS and not shame him for his fear and outburst, because I do understand what he's feeling, 

 

We have another dentist appt coming up and I'm trying to figure out how to prepare DS for it. He's too big at this point for me to hold him down-- which is basically what I had to do for the first two and I felt terrible about it and really guilty for months afterwards. I don't want to instill more fear in him. 

 

So no real advice here-- sorry! Just commiseration.....


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#7 of 9 Old 04-14-2013, 11:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think we're going to try a different dentist next time.

 

Gitanamama--That's interesting. Sounds like your son and mine do share some very similar traits. It's funny, because I think my son has much more of an extroverted personality but doesn't know how to properly express it, somehow. Like, I feel like he comes across as shy but really isn't. IDK--I'm definetly an introvert and I know that I have a very different personality at home and with loved ones that I do out in the wide world with strangers, so maybe that's just what's going on. I just know that I was much more of a "typical" (?) shy kid-- extremely polite but quiet, early reader, really preferred adult company because I felt much more comfortable performing "precocious youngster" as opposed to dealing with kids my age which I just couldn't relate with as well (ok, veering from typical shy kid, maybe. who knows what is typical :)). Whereas my son seems much more active, rowdy, not particularly precocious although can speak well and clearly when at home. So I know it isn't his standard personality, just that he hasn't learned or is not comfortable yet with public, brief, socialization with acquaintance types. How to teach manners... oh the million dollar question :)
 

Further, what you were saying about upcoming visits and holding them down... I just don't know. I can completely see how at some point I might just have to do that, either at the dentist's or the doctor's. Although I feel like we've been very "chill" with both (he hasn't had a lot of visits to either and not a huge deal made out of them), eventually he'll need to go and get treatments, checkups, shots (we've delayed vaxxing and now I wonder how we'll be able to get any, due to his super fear of needles. Yikes.


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#8 of 9 Old 04-15-2013, 09:09 AM
 
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I used to think pedicatric dentists were totally unnecessary until my son had a cavity.  Our family dentist is a no-nosense, old school dentist and I was shocked when he told me that he will not so  filings for kids anymore.  He said bad childhood experiences with the dentist contribute to major dental health problems down the road and since little kids are often tough patients, he refers them to a pedi dentist to make sure they get the best expereince possible.   Apparently, years back the dentists would give hits of that gas rather liberally to kids but those days are over.

 

So I took his advice and drive 40 minutes to the pedi dentist, so far so good.  I can tell the office has a completely different vibe and approach to their little patients.


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#9 of 9 Old 04-15-2013, 05:32 PM
 
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 I feel like I handled our early dentist and doctor visits poorly-- but I don't know what I should have done differently! We go to a pediatric dentist and a doctor specializing in family medicine. But because of our experiences, DS is now scared of both. I don't blame him-- was was basically held down and had treatments forced upon him (although I consoled him and comforted him as best I could the whole time.) All of the fun toys and gizmos were of no help or distraction. DS is just the kind of kiddo who has a really hard time in new situations and with new people-- especially when they're cramming their hands in his mouth or giving him shots. 

 

I'm thinking of taking DS into the dentists office two or three times before his next appt-- in the hopes that he will feel more comfortable when it's time to have his teeth cleaned. And I'm also hoping that now that he's a bit older (3 next month) he can grasp the concept better and will be less freaked out.  I'm definitely open to any other suggestions too!! 


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