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Reducing Fears

Kids with Glasses Smiling

Our Doctors understand parents’ concerns about the fears their children possess in regard to receiving dental care. Many tell them they fear going to the dentist themselves and want things to be different for their own children. Our doctors and our staff employ a variety of methods to ensure that goal is realized.

The office environment a child enters into plays a big part in either contributing to or reducing anxiety. When children are at ease with their surroundings they tend to adopt a more relaxed attitude. Our doctor's offices have been designed especially for children. They will feel right at home with the open atmosphere and cheerful colors.

Communicating with children on their level is one of the most important ways to reduce their fears. Our doctors and our staff are excellent communicators with children. They have a great deal of experience at it because it’s what they do all day long. They constantly apply a technique known as “Tell – Show – Do”. They tell the child what they are going to do in terms they can easily understand. Then they demonstrate it to them. Then they do it. The technique is as effective as it is simple but it is frequently ignored because it takes a little extra time. Children can’t be rushed and should be given the time they deserve.

If cavities develop and our doctors have to provide dental treatment, nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, can be used to relax the child. This mild, odorless gas is breathed through a small nosepiece while the child remains awake and able to communicate throughout the dental treatment. It is a very safe and effective technique.

Conscious sedation is an excellent way to provide dental treatment to very young children, fearful children and children with numerous dental needs. A combination of liquid medications is taken by the child about an hour before our doctors begin dental treatment. The medications are given to reduce fear and anxiety and may cause drowsiness or sleep but the child will remain conscious throughout the appointment. It is used along with nitrous oxide and is much more effective in providing relaxation than nitrous oxide alone.

In certain situations general anesthesia offers the best method to deliver dental care in a relaxing atmosphere. It is most often recommended for young children with extensive dental needs that would otherwise require multiple conscious sedation appointments. It is also recommended for very young children, children with medical conditions as well as children with special needs. With the aid of general anesthesia the child is put to sleep by an anesthesiologist or anesthetist in a hospital or outpatient surgery center. Our doctors then provides all the necessary dental treatment while the child is asleep. After a short recovery period the child returns home the same day. Our doctors are on staff at hospitals and outpatient surgery centers along the gulf coast where they provide this service.

While all of these methods usually reduce fear and anxiety, some children may still exhibit apprehension regardless of the efforts made to put them at ease. When that is the case there is no substitute for the patience you constantly see exhibited by our doctors and our staff. When other options are ineffective, demonstrating patience to a child eventually wins out. Nothing brings more joy to our doctors and our staff than seeing frightened children replace their fears with confidence and their frowns with smiles.