“Lynn had never, ever given us any trouble about going to the dentist,” said Marcy, Lynn’s mother. “We’d go in to our Quincy dentist for cleanings and checkups, no problem. But then, at the beginning of third grade, everything changed.”
All of a sudden, Lynn refused to go to the dentist. “She’s not a child who has tantrums, but when she’s not happy about something, she’ll let you know.” Rather than deal with a screaming fit, Marcy let one cleaning appointment slip by. But when she tried to take Lynn again a few weeks later, her daughter was still totally against the idea of going to the dentist.
“She wouldn’t talk about it, and wouldn’t talk about it, until one evening when I was tucking her into bed. We’d been talking about something else entirely, and I just sort of slipped the topic in there casually,” Marcy explained. “I said, “So what’s up with not wanting to go to the dentist?”
Perhaps because the timing took Lynn by surprise, she blurted out the answer to her Mother’s question. “It turns out that there was a little boy in her class, Aidan, who’d told her all kinds of nightmare stories about what had happened when his big brother had had to get braces. He had Lynn absolutely terrified.”
After learning what the issue was, Marcy was able to explain that Lynn was going in for a cleaning and checkup, same as always, from the familiar Quincy dentist she’d always known. “I’d never realized how influential other children are in determining how our kids will handle things like health care,” Marcy said. “But once you realize that’s the issue, it’s easy to address by presenting the facts about what your child can really expect. If your kid develops a fear of the dentist seemingly out of nowhere, ask them about it. Chances are they’ve been getting some bad information from a peer.”