From Afraid of the Dentist to Enjoying the Dentist

D: Dan Goldberg / J: John (Radio Host) / M: Dr. Moussa

J: Welcome back. My guest today is Dr. Dan Goldberg of Go Dental in Calgary, Alberta. And actually just before the break, we were talking about Dr. Moussa, who is also in the practice with Dr. Goldberg. And Dr. Moussa has a special gift working with children; we have Dr. Moussa on the phone with us now. Hi Doctor, how are you?

M: I am good, thanks. Yourself?

J: Very well. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy practice schedule to spend some time here on the program with us. You come from Egypt. I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit of your story and how you came to North America.

M: OK. I came originally from a city called Alexandria on the Mediterranean Sea and I have an uncle who has lived in Canada for 40 plus years now. He was always talking to me about Canada, and I grew up becoming more and more interested in coming here. I finished the dentistry program in Alexandria and I actually immigrated right away to Canada. I did a Masters in clinical anatomy and then I started dentistry at Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario and then I moved to Alberta because my husband’s work is here. Calgary is my new home. I totally love it. The practice work at now, Go Dental, is in a neighborhood that has a lot of Lebanese people - they actually speak Arabic and that is actually one of the languages that I speak. I speak English and Arabic and being in a Lebanese community within Calgary, we can provide better service for the Arabic speaking community and their children. We also have a daycare for the children. They can come and play when mommy gets her work done or their daddy gets work done. Communication will never be a problem because I speak Arabic and English, so there you go.

J: Excellent! And one of the things Dr. Goldberg told us just before the break was that he was having a little bit of a problem getting a child to calm down in order to accept the treatment that he thought was necessary. He told us he was about to sedate the girl, but he walked out the hall and said “Can you do something?” Can you tell us a little bit of this story and what you did? And how all turned out?

M: Oh yeah. She was a little nervous kid and she was crying. Her parents were getting more and more frustrated. Dr. Goldberg tried his best with her before asking me to give it a try and see if I can help out. Once I entered the room, she was crying and she was grabbing to her mom and she wanted to leave. But I just tried to calm her down, played with her a little bit…

J: How did you get the child to actually calm down and actually start to pay attention to what you were doing to a point where she was in a place where she could relax and after say “OK. This is a little bit different. What we are doing here. Maybe I should pay attention and enjoy this.” Do you remember what that was?

The use of play and fun at Go Dental makes the dentist fun for children

M: Yeah. I went into the room and she was so afraid that I would open her mouth and try to do something right away, and I told her “I am not going to do anything; we are just going to play a bit together. Would you like me to do that?” and she said “OK.” And I tried first to make her sit in the chair. She was crying, but then her mum said “It’s OK, no one will do anything bad to you.” Once she sat in the chair, I made the chair go up and down, back and forth, and doing little sounds like “Weeee it’s going up! Weeee, it’s going down!” She started enjoying it then she was actually moving in the chair, and I did not tell her “to stop” or “you have to sit down.” No, no, I left her to move back and forth in the chair, she was actually sitting upside down, her head was where the feet should be, I let her to do whatever she wanted. I let her play and come down, then I grabbed the mirror that goes in the mouth and I had her hold it in her hand and experience putting it in her mouth herself. As if we are just playing, I tell her that we have the saliva ejector –it’s what sucks the saliva outside the mouth. I hold it and say, “This is mister thirsty” and was putting it in her hand, so she could see all of that suction action, and she was actually laughing. And she totally forgot about everything else. She got into playing with everything at the dental chair – the instruments and I asked her, “Can I tickle your teeth?” I always use this expression “Can I tickle your teeth?” and she was like “Really! You can tickle my teeth?” And I am like “Yeah, I can do that.” And I started actually putting the instruments in her mouth and you know just saying fun words “tickle, tickle, tickle” and she actually was laughing. I know nothing was tickling but she was laughing. It’s just… in her mind, when I said “can I tickle your teeth” you have to laugh and it ends up being fun for her. So, it’s all about using those metaphors and making it a fun experience. And she opened her mouth, she sat down. I actually cleaned the cavity, I put the filling in and she was happy. And we always give children a toy when they are leaving just to say thank you for sitting down and opening your mouth and be such a good patient and it all went well. And her parents were happy too.

J: There you go.

M: It’s all about using those metaphors and just letting them have a moment. They have to get used to the surroundings. They have to feel that there is nothing there that’s going to hurt them or harm them. Everything is so new for them and I think they feel a little bit as if we are invading their personal space if you come into the room and you tell them to open the mouth, “Open your mouth I am going to do this and that.” Everything is so new. They just need their time.

J: That’s excellent. Well, Doctor, I have to tell you, after hearing your story, I wish you were my dentist when I was a kid. (Laughs)

M: Oh, thank you!

J: I had a total different experience when I was a kid. I am looking at the clock. We need to take a break. I want to thank you very much for taking time out of your schedule and sharing that story with us.

M: You welcome and thank you so much for talking to me. I enjoyed this conversation a lot.


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