• Welcome! This is a forum for anyone who is affected by a fear of the dentist, dental phobia, or specific dental fears.

    We are lucky to count a number of dentists among our members and moderators. Look out for the "Verified dentist" badges. If you are a dental professional who likes to help, please join our community!

    Register now to access many more features and forums!

Son has a phobia too from dentists. What to do?

O

ohmygodmyteeth

Junior member
Joined
May 20, 2013
Messages
8
Location
Uk
Hi,

My son is 10, he like me has a fear of dentists. Although I have hidden my fear from him and took him too every appointment, and not even talked about my teeth issues in front of him, as I do have quite a big tooth issue, if anyone mentions teeth I leave the room! It has took me more than a year to get him to a good dentist, the one I am currently seeing myself.

The previous dentist removed a tooth and he reacted very badly and just screamed and there was no way she was going to remove the other tooth during the same appointment. I asked there and then can they not refer him to be put to sleep for it. They refused and said they would try again another day. After this experience I would not be taking him back there. So I found a good dentist who treats anxious patients, (took a while). Myself & my son now. We started building up a relationship between him and my son which was going great. He has a great way with kids and he liked him. Then we tried the gas and air "happy gas" so he could have a simple clean whilst feeling this would move forward him getting used to being at a dentist. He needed more work doing but we were taking small steps.

My son at the beginning was quite happy with the mask on and feeling a bit 'funny'. I stayed in room for support for him. As soon as the dentist went near his mouth with some numbing gel, he went mental. He would'nt stay stay and got very, upset and agitated. So we had to admit defeat and we decided it was best to send him to hospital to have his teeth that needed taken out whilst he was asleep. Which I was glad in a way, because in the year, his teeth had detiorated and so needed treatment. At least this dentist tried to work with us and was great with my son.

I am writing this as today, my son's tooth issue's came to the forefront of my mind. We went to the hospital and he had his problem teeth removed whilst he was asleep. He was an absolute little superstar. He had a pre-med and went to sleep so didn't even have to worry about needles. He has been brilliant and he coped very well. He has been home since early afternoon, and he is great. After he got over his initial dizziness, he was bright as, and bouncing round the house. Over-egging the "I need ice-cream" and his only worry is how he will ever be able to eat again! He managed chips and beans tonight so I think he will be fine!!

My reason for writing tonight is how do I move forward from this. If he won't ever let a dentist near his mouth, how will he ever get a check-up in the future. If he ever has another problem with his teeth as he get's older, how am I going to get him to learn that the dentist is there to make him feel better? Is it always going to be like this? I mean, he can't be put to sleep every time! He has started to get to know our dentist and is building up a good relationship with him, but they can't just be friends, at some point the dentist will have to get in there and look at his teeth again.

As I said before I keep my fears and worries well away from my children. My eldest daughter is 12 and apparently is a model patient at the dentist. Had an extraction no problems! Very proud of her too!

I am going to continue visiting the dentist and have him go even if the dentist does nothing as such. But I wondered is there anything else I can do to help him when he is there. Any suggestions greatly appreciated?? I don't want him to end up like me and avoiding the dentist for years!!! I want him to keep up having healthy teeth, but I also want him to not be scared of the dentist doing anything. We must be able to move on at some point? From just sitting in the chair? I am happy to spend all the time it takes to do whatever it takes to get my son comfortable. I don't want him to grow up with this fear (like so many of us!).

Again I waffle on! lol, I deleted this twice and then re-wrote. I just want what's best for my baby! But if anyone has any ideas, similar experiences, it may just help?

Thanks for reading x
 
kitkat

kitkat

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 27, 2006
Messages
1,589
Location
United States
Hi! So sorry to hear that your son is dealing with this fear as well. It sounds like the emotional wounds are still fairly fresh from the previous dentist so he may come around with time and repetition and patience. It is good that your son likes the dentist as a person, that is a great starting place so I would not give up on him! Do you think it would be helpful to have him watch his older sister get a cleaning at her next appointment? Some kids do better with a model/example of what will happen.
 
O

ohmygodmyteeth

Junior member
Joined
May 20, 2013
Messages
8
Location
Uk
Thankyou Kitkat for responding, I will definitely try that. Something I had not thought of! I will take him along to her next appointment. We normally sit outside and wait for her after I have initially said hello and settled her in. My son likes to look at all the instruments and see what they are. But if they come near his mouth, that's when he starts to panic, as he follows them with his eyes also. Don't worry I am not about to give up on him! I will keep up his appointments, he generally goes once every 2 months to sit and talk to the dentist. Maybe next time I go I will suggest to my son that he also let's the dentist look inside at his gaps form having his teeth out at the hospital! Hopefully time and patience will win out in the end. Thanks for your suggestion, I will be giving that a go for sure. :)
 
Dr. Daniel

Dr. Daniel

Well-known member
Verified dentist
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
1,954
Location
The Hague , Holland
You are doing great. Even though I am not a fan of sedation, sometimes it is needed, and it sounded like the appropriated treatment.

Here are some suggestions how to continue:
1) Continue to visit the dentist on a regular basis. Put emphasis on prevention: lessons about brushing, fluoride and so forth.
2) You can take videos of your son sitting in the dental chair. It might be helpful in the future if indeed a treatment will be needed.
3) Surely your child senses you anxiety at that plays a role. Is it possible for you also to be treated by the same dentist as your son? It might do you guys good to cope with it together.
4) It is very important to understand what exactly our son is afraid of (pain during the injection? needle phobia? fear of getting injured by the needle?) and then address the problem directly.
 
vicki

vicki

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2005
Messages
1,005
Location
UK
Even though it might not feel like it at the moment, there are some promising signs, especially since you've found a dentist that your son appears to be comfortable with and you also mentioned that he does go every two months.

My son likes to look at all the instruments and see what they are. But if they come near his mouth, that's when he starts to panic, as he follows them with his eyes also.
If he had a bad experience with the previous dentist, then it might be that this is some sort of coping strategy to help protect himself from a repeat experience. Do you know what it was that caused him to react badly when he had a tooth removed? Sometimes it can be a fear of the unknown and/or a lack of trust. In other words, if he sees anything that looks similar to what was used or what happened when he had his tooth removed, he might possibly think that the same thing will happen again, particularly if he sees anything that reminds him of the past experience.

I spend most of my appointments with my eyes screwed tight shut so that I don't see anything, because if I see something coming towards my mouth, I know that I'd be out of the chair and off down the road in a flash. However, if there's a pause during treatment, I do sometimes like to have a look around to check what's happening and check what instruments are there and ready to be used - just in case there's something that I don't like the look of or I'm not familiar with and then I can ask what it is or attempt to do a runner (sometimes it can be both :p).

There's a technique called Tell Show Do which was developed for use with children (it can work for nervous adults too :)) which works in several ways, by helping to build rapport with the dentist, removing the fear of the unknown and giving the patient a sense of control over what happens. We have a page with more information about it here: http://www.dentalfearcentral.org/help/psychology/tell-show-do/
 
P

perfectlife

Junior member
Joined
Mar 28, 2013
Messages
16
Location
CANADA
sorry your son is having to deal with this fear as well...
I read your post and I can identify... when I was a child my mom took me and my brother to the dentist for something simple like a cleaning or sealing our molars, and both him and I would not open our mouths for the dentist. My mom was embarrassed and upset and it really didn't help matters. I am not saying you do that with your son, actually you sound very supportive and loving with him thru this. Good for you! He's lucky to have a mom who doesn't make him feel like a really bad kid for having this fear that he can't control.

My mom also has a fear of the dentist (she only has a few front bottom teeth of her own... dentures by the time she was 30) and though she "hid" it from me... it was still very plain to see. She never talked about her fear... she also NEVER talked about the dentist, teeth... or proper oral health in a positive light, always negative... ALWAYS. The thing is I never felt comfortable about the dentist, because nobody around me was. I think it would help so much with your son to see somebody he is close to in the dentist chair... and that they are happy and fine and that nothing horrible is happening to them (even though strange instruments are being used in their mouth). The biggest thing though, which I think you know... is to have patience with him. Keep helping him to build a positive light about the dentist... and I am sure he will come around.

I hope both you and your son can work thru this fear... I know how difficult it is. Keep it up! :jump:
 
O

ohmygodmyteeth

Junior member
Joined
May 20, 2013
Messages
8
Location
Uk
Thank you for all your responses. It's great to get some feedback and ideas.

I try my hardest to be really upbeat whilst at the dentist with him and it help's that the dentist is so friendly with him. He is a lovely little lad and I really want him to keep moving forward.

I think that when he had a tooth out before he did say he could feel it. The previous dentist put more anaesthetic in his mouth to make him even more numb. I think even though he was numb it was the feeling of somebody moving around his mouth that was the problem. Even though your numb you know something is going on. But I can't really be sure. As anything near his mouth in a dental chair he normally reacts badly.

The hard thing with my son is he has Aspergers (possibly should have added that in my first post.), he is a high functioning though. He is very clever but he has trouble expressing himself and saying how he is feeling or what the problem is. For instance if he had a row with someone at school, he would just say "I can't remember. But it made me cross" and that would be it. He love's to chat if it is about something he likes. So it is very hard to get exactly why he doesn't like the dentist out of him. And if he doesn't like something he is very vocal about it, has quite large what I could only describe as an anxiety attack, which is quite loud and vocal. He get's so het up, it's really heartbreaking to see and he is very hard to calm down. As he is getting older though he is becoming better though. But it is hard to put a finger on what exactly he doesn't like.

I definitely will be trying everything suggested. Thankyou Kitkat, Dr Daniel, Vicki and Perfectlife. :) Your comments are much appreciated. It's good to know also that I am doing a good job so far! And hopefully with your advice too we can keep going forward. This website has become a god-send to me. I thought I was the only one with a fear and now realise that I am not alone and neither is my son with our worries. It is really great just to get it off my chest to people who understand.

I will look at the link you suggested. He has been along with me whilst I had a check up once at the beginning with new dentist. So I will ask when I go next time if he can sit in and see a simple treatment being done to me. We are both at the same dentist now and I am sure he would oblige.

He is not booked in for another 2 months now as he has just had some baby teeth removed in hospital, but when we go I will keep you informed! I am trying to be as positive as I can any time we go there. But I may also try and talk positively about it in between sessions too. I will be looking into Tell Show Do also.

Thanks for your time! :)
 
carole

carole

Super Moderator
Joined
Jan 5, 2012
Messages
7,904
Location
UK
It may have been the noises he would have heard when the tooth was removed by the previous dentist, also a different sensation sends me on edge, I hate it. It is only over the last year or so that I have identified exactly what bothers me most. I have always know that I detest the drill with a passion, but I have discovered I hate it because I am waiting for it to hurt, and the vibration makes me jump. It takes my mind a few seconds to identify that it isn't pain I am feeling but a different sensation.

Maybe your son cannot identify just what it is at the moment but with the help he is getting from both you and the dentist I think things will work out.

Good luck to you, as you get more comfortable with your dentist, your treatment will get easier for you to handle too.

All the best to you both. :grouphug::grouphug::grouphug::butterfly:
 
brit

brit

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Mar 23, 2006
Messages
6,957
Location
In My Dental Happy Place
My reason for writing tonight is how do I move forward from this. If he won't ever let a dentist near his mouth, how will he ever get a check-up in the future. If he ever has another problem with his teeth as he get's older, how am I going to get him to learn that the dentist is there to make him feel better?

Don't worry, he will grow up and mature...they all do...just keep taking him to the nice dentist who referred him when the numbing gel was too much, keep brushing, keep to a sensible anti-tooth decay diet...and he may never need dental treatment in future.
Not everyone likes 'happy gas' because it makes you feel out of control...he might be best just letting his trusted dentist take a peek with just fingers not even a mirror and building trust from there.

FWIW the first dentist was totally correct from a child psychology point of view to not force the second extraction on him and a GA is not sth you want to have unless absolutely necessary..so no one has really done anything wrong, your son will get over it as he matures in all likelihood. As he saw the GA was not a big deal.
Just saw the AS post - he will likely get over it even so but if it were to be an ongoing sensory issue that would be a reason for him to be treated by the Salaried Dental services who specialise in Special Needs patients or be referred again.
 
Top