Dental appointments are often scary for many kids, particularly when they need to go for a cavity filling. Here are some tips from pediatric dental professionals on getting your child through the procedure:
Answer questions – If your child asks about what will happen during the procedure, you should provide some honest details: tell them about sitting in the dentist chair, the noises he or she will hear and how their mouth will feel numb for a short period after. Kids often have many questions about what is going to occur at the pediatric dental office. You should be ready to answer honestly but in simple, kid-friendly terms what can be expected.
Emphasize the positive – Make sure you explain how lucky your child is to have a great dentist who is able to fix their tooth. This isn’t the time to scold your child for bad eating or brushing habits.
Use kid-friendly terms – You should choose your words carefully when you are talking about dental fillings with your child. This doesn’t mean that you should be dishonest when you are answering their questions; this just means that you should discuss the procedure using kid-friendly terms. For example, instead of saying “needle”, you might just say that they will feel a little poke in their mouth. Words like “needle” or “shot” can be scary for kids. Instead, you should refer to these terms with words like “little poke,”or “magic wand”.
Share your experiences – Your child should know that cavities are very common for people of all ages and they are not difficult for the dentist to fix. You can discuss your experience with cavities with your child. If you have never had a cavity, you can get someone who has to discuss with your child about how fast and simple the procedure was.
Bring a comfort item – If your child would like to wear certain clothes or bring a comfort item such as a stuffed animal or toy, you can let them. This will make them feel less nervous at the dental office. You can also join your child in the treatment room if it will help them feel more comfortable.
Stay calm – Your child will react to your anxiety, particularly while you are in the waiting room. It’s difficult to see your child have to experience anything that causes them fear or anxiety. As a parent, the best thing to do is to remain calm and reassuring to decrease your child’s anxiety.
Re-emphasize good oral health habits – Even if the cavity was not developed because of poor dental habits, the onset of a cavity is a good time to review good brushing habits and discuss limiting candy, soda, and junk food. While taking preventative measures and practicing great oral hygiene habits still may not stop children from developing a cavity, it is definitely a good choice to try to get them to avoid habits that can cause damage to their teeth, so going over healthy habits with your child is always a good plan.
Plan something fun afterward – You can visit the park or somewhere fun after your child’s dental visit, or set up a play date with a friend. You can even take your child to get a special food treat once the numbness in the cavity location has worn off. Planning a fun activity after the appointment will give your child something to look forward to and make the appointment less intimidating.
If you would like to learn more about fillings for kids, check out our Dental Fillings & Crowns/Caps for kids page.