|Omar and Shareef's appointment with Dr. Sahar Jumean, Paediatric Dentist and contributing consultant to Family Flavours Magazine. I was brought up hating doctor visits but kids only love Dr Sahar! And she sat with me for a good amount of time to offer helpful advice - that kind of expert consultation, especially coming from a mother of three kids, is far more beneficial than anything impersonal online sources could give.|
Confessions of a Dentist Phobic Mama
Did you know that dental anxiety is ranked 5th among commonly feared situations? Growing up fearing all doctors, the smell of a dentist’s clinic even today sends me running for the door.
This is the scenario in the dental clinic during the 1980s of my childhood: Fearful child (me) walks into the dental clinic. The child keeps clinging to the parents and starts crying. The parents lift the child, put her on the dental chair. Everyone present scolds her and then holds her for the treatment. It is this kind of approach that led me to develop a permanent fear of the dentist.
Yet when it is time for me as an adult to take my own kids to the dentist, I fall into the same tendency that traumatized me growing up - forcing the toothbrush on my child as he kicks and screams and forcing a doctor’s visit on my two year old whose immediate reaction is piteous crying, forceful screaming and uncontrollable shivering. And my child isn’t typically a stubborn child or one with behavioural problems.
My angel today came dressed in casual jeans and top under a stylish dental coat with smiley teeth hanging by a thin thread (tooth floss!). She clearly didn’t just have expertise in dentistry but also understood child behaviour and how to interact with my fearful child.
Paediatric Dentist Sahar Jumean, an expert consultant for Family Flavours magazine, gave her time and patience to Omar (7) and Shareef (2). It was a breeze with Omar as he quickly bonded with her as she took him on a dental journey in her “magical” chair and equally magical exam gloves that blow up. To Omar, he was more focused on Dr Sahar, the magician, than the dental equipment surrounding him.
Shareef, however, was not so enthusiastic, even after exchanging laughs sitting on a Colgate beanbag with soft, plush toys in the corner. When it was his turn, insecurity took over and he refused to sit in the dental chair or open his mouth. He clung to me like glue.
Dr Sahar said he could sit on my lap for the examination but she quickly changed course when she saw his phobia. “We don’t want to instil a lifelong fear of the dentist,” she said and directed us outside into the reception area where Shareef wasn’t afraid. That did the trick – with assurance, stickers and plenty of smiles, Dr Sahar got him to open his mouth and both boys left happy to show off their pearly whites – and were even overjoyed to pick up their toothbrushes that evening!