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Reducing Fear

Girl with hurt toothDr. Sydney, Dr. Ann, and Dr. Jack understand parents’ concerns about the fears their children have in regard to receiving dental care. Many tell us they fear going to the dentist themselves and want things to be different for their own children. Our practice employs 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 office has been designed especially for children. They will feel right at home with the open atmosphere, cheerful colors and decorative theme.

Communicating with children on their level is one of the most important ways to reduce their fears. Our doctors and staff are excellent communicators with children, they have a great deal of experience at it because of their training, and because it is 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 cannot be rushed and should be given the time they deserve. Our doctors and staff pride themselves on being a small practice, which does not attempt to push large numbers of patients through each day. Every child and parent is given time and individual consideration. Nothing brings more joy to our Doctors and our Staff than seeing frightened children replace their fears with confidence and their frowns with smiles.

If cavities develop and the 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.

Mild sedation is an excellent way to introduce children to dental treatment procedures. It is very effective for providing 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 the beginning of dental treatment. The medications are given to reduce fear and anxiety. The child may feel relaxed, but will remain awake and able to communicate throughout the appointment. Parents are provided with information detailing the medications and their dosages (based on the child’s weight), and parents are encouraged to “check this by” their pediatrician if they wish, or have any concerns. The liquid medications are given on an empty tummy (not having eaten for at least 4 hours) and used along with nitrous oxide, which is much more effective in providing relaxation then 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 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 provide all the necessary dental treatment in the one visit, while the child is asleep. After a short recovery period the child returns home the same day. Our Doctors are Dental Staff members of Mercy, Sutter and Kaiser Hospitals. The patient’s medical insurance dictates where the treatment is provided.