Planet of The Dentists – Fun for Kids
The dentist chair has always been an anxious place for kids and adults alike, but thanks to some new changes and tactics, going to the dentist can become a much more enjoyable experience.
As we came out of hyperspace, the Millennium Falcon was met by a fleet of TIE fighters. C-3P0 blatantly informed us that the odds of survival were slim to none. The options appeared to be: surrender or die — until I did the unthinkable and steered us into an oncoming asteroid field. That was the image from my hypnotic trance. In reality, I was eight years old in a dentist’s office, receiving my first filling for a cavity. A drill was buzzing a hole in my tooth, a bright light shone in my eyes and a suction device was being pushed underneath my tongue, causing me to gag. But none of that fazed me, as I listened to my dad’s voice guide me to a galaxy far, far away.
My father, who is a psychiatrist, thought it might be helpful to put me under hypnosis because I was terrified of dentists. My first memory of the dentist was as a five-year-old biting his thumb, with blood squirting everywhere. To this day, I still endure terrible dentist nightmares, and I can’t even have my teeth cleaned without nitrous oxide. At eight years of age, my dad hypnotized me to believe I was in the movie Star Wars, flying Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon. And with his voice guiding me in the background during the procedure, I actually believed that Chewbacca was my co-pilot, that my crew consisted of Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker and that our ship was dodging enemy fighters.
Annette Bradshaw is a registered psychotherapist in Toronto, and she fully supports hypnosis as a way to distract children from feeling the pain and anxiety that can be attached to seeing a dentist. “I know a lot of dentists these days have many ways to make kids feel more comfortable and less anxious. But, if a child is terribly anxious about having a filling, braces or some type of painful procedure, I highly recommend hypnosis.”
My daughter Seri was initially terrified about the idea of going to the dentist for her first filling at the age of seven, and I thought about having my father hypnotize her. “I won’t go. They’re going to drill a hole in my head,” she exclaimed. However, my wife showed me the Smile Squad Dental website, and I realized Seri may actually enjoy the experience. The website portrays the whole dental experience to be like some kind of new age Zen spa, unlike the Neanderthal conditions I had to endure back in the 1970s. Children are provided with cool-looking 3D glasses and headphones in order to watch their own personal television screen. They can watch any movie they want because the dentist has iTunes. They don’t hear the sounds or barely notice the dentist and the grinding Machiavellian tools.
Dr. Lori Goldenberg, the dentist who founded Smile Squad Dental, wanted to create a positive experience for kids while at the dentist. Says Dr. Goldenberg: “My dream was to create a space that was fun and inviting for kids of all ages. Smile Squad Dental is a special place sprinkled with all things kids, from the indoor playground to the iPad nook, Klubhouse, prize machines, toothpaste menus and Netflix overhead. Children feel comfortable and at home [while] at Smile Squad Dental.”
After interviewing Bradshaw and speaking with Dr. Goldenberg, it seems hypnosis is still an option for kids who are anxious about going to the dentist. But, perhaps with all of the innovative new age electronic toys dentists now offer, kids can experience the dentist with SpongeBob onscreen and may not even require hypnosis. I, however, will forever be flying the Millennium Falcon.
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