She is extremely afraid of the dentist

It has been shown that children are able to “relive”, in the true physical sense of the term, a bad past experience if someone or something triggers the spark of memory.

Question: Our nine-year-old daughter is terrified of the dentist, she even fainted during a visit. With specialist visits, other causes of fainting are eliminated, all that remains is the fear of the dentist. What can be done?


First of all it is necessary to ask why a child is so afraid of the dentist. The most frequent causes are related to family conditioning and / or a bad experience. It is now scientifically proven that children are able to “relive”, in the true physical sense of the term, a bad experience past if someone or something triggers the spark of memory (star circuit). For this a good approach with the child is essential. All pedodontists (dentists for children) have psychological, behavioral and even hypnotic techniques to approach their world, and establish communication with them.

Fainting in the studio is not an exceptional fact: in my studio there have been several, the last of which to the daughter of a colleague and before the visit, and therefore there is no need to worry. The mistake that many dentists who are not used to working with children make is to consider them as second-class adults, so certain things must not be told to them but must be done to them, and here then the confidence of the little patient is lost. Never, and I repeat never, must a child be forced to remove or treat a tooth. As fellow pediatricians will confirm each child is different and therefore requires a personalized approach (it is easier to “catalog” the behavior of the parents accompanying the child).

If the nine-year-old girl is motivated and has understood the need for treatment, there are a thousand ways to reassure her, not least the pharmacological remedy with nitrous oxide which has proved safe and valid over the years. A basic concept is also this: you are afraid of what you do not know. I, for example, sometimes have the most frightened children attend the normal operational activity of a children’s dentistry office. If the 9-year-old sees a 5-6-year-old boy who is already motivated and who is being treated in peace, she will receive positive reinforcement and understand why we will explain the whole procedure step by step, without mysteries, and without lies . Certainly we will not use difficult words or technicalities to express ourselves as we will avoid anxious words and phrases: for example my assistant knows perfectly well that in my office there is a cleaner instead of a drill and that instead of a syringe there is a sleeping liquid, and so on. Another technique that I use a lot is the displacement of the terrified child: it is necessary to do the most unusual he would expect of us: look at the father’s or mother’s teeth instead of his own, reverse the positions putting the patient on the stool and dentist on the armchair … in short, everything that breaks the mental scheme that he has prefigured in the waiting room. In conclusion, the advice is to find a good pedodontist who knows how to establish communication with your daughter; this sometimes requires many appointments and a lot of time spent in convincing, but it is a stage that can never be skipped, even when the waiting room is full, because the economic logic is of little interest to children (and they are right!!) .



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