Fear of the dentist is a problem that involves both children and adults and can have negative consequences for dental health. In fact, according to Minsal figures, the prevalence of caries can reach almost 63% in the population over 12 years of age. That is why the management of fear from childhood is fundamental.
“The fear of the dentist is something rather subjective that is mainly associated with previous negative experiences or phobias,” explains Laura Cruz, a pediatric dentist at Clínica Santa Blanca.
“Many times it is adults who pass those fears on to children. This is why we have to avoid predisposing them and not use phrases such as ‘don’t be afraid’, ‘it won’t hurt’ or ‘are you very nervous?’, on the contrary, we have to speak to them in a positive way and trust that they will have their own experience, “he adds.
Sebastián Peragallo, a professor at the University of Valparaíso, says that “I notice it a lot in adults, obviously the procedures in dentists in the past were different, which often could cause traumatic experiences and that parents pass it on to children. In adults the recommendation is to understand that nowadays dentistry is friendlier, and if they can not handle the insecurity that they talk previously with their dentist; today it is possible to work with anxiolytics, muscle relaxants and other medications, there are ways to make things much simpler and easier for patients.”
He adds that “the child who has never been to the dentist and his parents have not had any traumatic contact, comes to try, to know and have a good development unless something traumatic happens. That is why it is good that they come to the dentist from a young age, without telling them anything, without threatening, avoid saying for example ‘hey if you behave badly, I take you to the dentist’, and above all come before a problem occurs because that way they know what it is, they go to control and finish, strengthening a healthy familiarity with the experience”.
Faced with this fear so present, the Club Ratón Pérez was born, a program of preventive and entertaining dentistry, formed by professionals in the area specialized in child care, who through a didactic and playful methodology achieve that they have a first friendly approach to the dentist, either in their own home or in the clinic.
“The techniques we use are mainly through play. With tools and models that children can touch and explore, and so they are the protagonists of their “first appointment with the dentist”. In addition, everything goes hand in hand with our friend Ratón Pérez, there they know his little house, we listen to his song, he sends them gifts and thus we manage to enter the imagination of the little ones forever, “explains Dr. Cruz.
Some tips to turn this experience into a pleasant memory and not a nightmare for children.
Let’s not pass on our fears to children: Your child’s dental experience will be different from yours. Trust the instructions of the pediatric dentist.
Don’t repress their emotions: The recommendation is to help them identify what scares them. For this, the professionals of the Pérez Mouse Club show them step by step the procedure and use the imagination to achieve it. With the aim of decreasing anxiety and fear of the unknown.
Other forbidden words: Needle, prick and vaccine are also concepts that are best avoided as parents when attending the dentist. Children can confuse some discomfort or pressure with pain, so it is important to know how to explain in advance what will happen. We must get them to trust their pediatric dentist.