How to Prepare For Your Child's First Visit

The consultation is an important opportunity to meet Dr Matt, his team and the environment. Not only does this help your child to see that visiting the dentist can be a fun, and very happy experience, but puts to rest many of the myths commonly associated with visiting the dentist. Many parents harbour a fear or phobia of the dentist established early on in their life, typically in childhood. This feeling stays with them throughout their life and  jeopardizes their dental health because they either avoid going, or only attend when in pain. Sometimes patients do not complete the course of treatment leaving their dental health in a state of limbo. This perpetuates the fear because often the treatment is when they are in pain and coping skills or pain tolerances are at their lowest, as well as the fact that treatment is often compromised because the problem has become so severe that more conservative options are no longer available. 

This is the bad news. The good news is that taking control of the situation for your child means things don't have to be that way for them, and compromise their dental health or smile over their lifetime. It does mean you will need to invest a little time in preparation before the appointment. Here is some helpful advice we have put together for you before visiting us:

- Complete our New Patient Form from our website before the day. You will appreciate this, as will we, and if you accidentally take the wrong turn in getting to us it will help maximize your appointment slot. 

- Please advise us of any sensitive issues, and whether there are any specific discussions you would prefer to have with Dr Fracaro without your child present. If two parents are attending the other may keep your child company in the waiting room during this discussion. Alternatively you can schedule a separate appointment if you prefer. We are a very accommodating practice. Whereas other practices may not feel comfortable accommodating specific requests,  Dr Fracaro is always happy to listen and take on board your initial concerns as much as he can, or wherever he feels possible in the dental setting. 

- Some words about language. Needles are for knitting and sewing and "ripped out" is what you do to weeds in your garden. They are not terms used in dentistry! Please NEVER mention these to a child, nor use them as an incentive to brush their teeth. All this does is seed the idea that the dentist hurts.  If you want to use terminology but don't know how, it is best to avoid saying too much. Let Dr Fracaro provide the explanation. 

- Avoid making the dental visit a "high point" of the day. The more emphasis you place on visiting the dentist, the more alert or suspicious and therefore worried your child will become. Be mindful of talking in front of your child to another adult about the issue or problems identified as this tends to invite apprehension and may lead to a barrage of questions from your child you may not be able to answer, or want to answer, for fear of the worry it may cause.

- Make the appointment at a time of day when your child is most alert and functioning. Please don't make an appointment immediately after nap time as being woken in the pram on the way to the appointment or in the waiting room is a recipe for problems, as your child won't be receptive to someone looking 'up close and personal'! 

- Mornings are often better times for young children.

- Arrive a little earlier than your appointment so you aren't rushed and feeling stressed. We want you to make the most of the allocated appointment time, and to ask questions and feel your concerns have been addressed. 

- Managing expectations. As with parenting, happiness and a sense of calm often comes about by understanding how your own or others' expectations can make an impact. Little children or toddlers rarely sit perfectly still and not utter a word whilst Dr Matt examines them. Some do, but some will resist, cry or struggle. It is important to understand that this is simply typical behaviour for most young children, and we simply don't expect anything other than this, especially if they are in pain (we seldom put our best foot forward when in pain, so why should children be any different?). We totally understand (we all have children ourselves, and in fact, were once children ourselves too) and are accepting of this, so please don't worry. This is rarely 'bad" or tantrum behaviour. Infants and young children will be examined in the "lap to lap" method where you comfort your child whilst holding their hands. Dr Matt will elaborate more on this at the time. A young child isn't expected to sit in the dental chair, especially if they are apprehensive or anxious. 

- DON'T feed your child just before the dental visit without allowing time to brush their teeth. There are basins in our practice. It can be difficult enough for young children to sit still long enough for a dental assessment without Dr Matt having to spend most of that time removing what they have just eaten from the teeth.

- Many of our patients have FOOD ALLERGIES so eating is strictly prohibited in our rooms. 

- Show your child the VIDEO of our practice so things become a little more familiar. 

- Bring a comforter such as a teddy or other item. 

- Bring the referral if you have one, and any other information such as XRays, Scans, photos etc...

- Two pairs of ears are better than one. There is often a great deal of information that is exchanged at the first meeting. We understand that amidst the crying, banging and crashing playing with toys and interactions with siblings etc... things seem to be very busy and you didn't quite hear what Dr Matt said, let alone understood it. If two adults (at least one a parent) attend, there is often more opportunity to retain the information and ask the right questions. It also avoids having to brief your partner or significant other over the dinner table (a typically chaotic and busy time for most parents) whilst children are seated, listening intently and hanging off every word you say. 

- A consenting Parent/Guardian MUST attend with the child at the consultation. If there is a court order relating to this please make a copy and bring this along for our records. If circumstances are such that a legal guardian cannot attend the visit, you must notify us prior to the appointment. Depending on circumstances (eg. a dental emergency such as trauma) Dr Fracaro may give approval for consultation without the presence of a legal guardian, however, in most circumstances Dr Fracaro will not consult without a legal guardian in attendance, and alternative arrangement will need to be made. This usually involves re-booking the child's appointment for when a legal guardian will be in attendance or in a manner as otherwise deemed appropriate by Dr Fracaro. We have a duty of care to diagnose and treat dental conditions in children which by Law must be an informed process of consent prior to any dental treatment being undertaken. 

-Please note, whilst Dr Fracaro is a Specialist in Paediatric Dentistry and has years of training and experience in dealing with difficult or behaviourally challenging children, he cannot force cooperation from a child. You must advise us before the consultation appointment of any anticipated issues with regard to cooperation as they relate to the problems for which you are seeking advice. This will provide us with the opportunity to discuss expectations with you, and to inform you of what legal jurisdiction we can operate under. Under Queensland Law, a child can refuse examination, investigative tests and treatment if they are able to understand the information given them. This is recognized as the process of Assent for a child, and cannot be over-ridden unless a dental-medical emergency exists (dental trauma, airway compromise, facial cellulitis, systemic involvement), the minor is a very young child (<5 years), or the child has diagnosed cognitive or intellectual impairment where parental agreement is established in advance in order to examine the child. It is important you provide us with as much information before making an appointment for your child in matters such as this, which in some instances means scheduling a consultation appointment with Dr Fracaro without the child being in attendance. At this consultation appointment Dr Fracaro will be able to discuss your child's unique circumstances in arriving at a suitable plan for treatment.

- Dr Fracaro welcomes second opinions. Please bring along any paperwork documenting the previous assessment and treatment recommendation for your child so Dr Fracaro is familiar with it, and to assist in answering questions or clarifying any issues. Raising your concerns or reservations early is important to ensure Dr Fracaro is made fully aware of your preferences and respectful of your wishes. 

- LASTLY, take a deep breath and relax! It will be ok. A wise person once said, "there are no such thing as problems, just solutions waiting to be found". Let us help you find that solution :)