No parent ever expects to hear that their child has a cavity and that the dentist suggests filling it. To help your child cope better, you might want to pay attention to the way you handle this common dental procedure. For some tips on helping your child get that first cavity filled without trauma and stress, read on.
Know Your Options
If the cavity is very small and just on the surface, your dentist might decide not to fill it. Some minor cavities can be cared for using fluoride treatments and other methods. Most of the time, a filling is necessary, so ask your dentist what to expect in terms of procedure, particularly anesthesia choices. You might ask about laughing gas, local anesthetics and, in some cases, mild sedatives. Speak with the dentist alone and then ask them to explain what to expect to your child in terms they can understand.
Prepare Your Child
Be prepared to be forthcoming and honest when your child asks you questions about the upcoming appointment. It's okay to tell them it might hurt a little and you may also want to share your own (good) experiences with getting your own cavities filled. Let them know that it's natural to be nervous about doing something new like having a cavity filled but remind them of other new experiences that ended up being positive for them. What you shouldn't do, though, is dismiss their fears or imply that they are worrying about nothing. Sometimes, your child will feel better about stressful situations if they know they can express their fears openly with you. Finally, try to schedule the appointment for a day when you and the child are not busy with other obligations. They may feel tired after the appointment and want to return home where they feel the most secure.
Make It Easier Next Time
Unfortunately, a child's first visit with a dentist may only come after a problem has occurred. Instead, make sure you get your child used to visiting the dentist (and the treasure chest!) regularly for cleaning and diagnostics. They'll come to like and trust the dentist and that will make anything that needs to be done a lot less stressful for them. Your dentist may suggest twice a year visits or more frequent ones if your child has issues with cavities, tartar or plaque, or other dental issues. Talk to your family or general dentistry to find out more about good oral hygiene practices you child can perform at home that will help keep issues like cavities to a bare minimum.