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How to Prepare Your Child for a Dental Filling

How to Prepare Your Child for a Dental Filling

You’ve done everything you could to help your child take good care of their teeth, from brushing to flossing to taking them to the dentist for check-ups. But what happens if, despite your best efforts, your child has a cavity and needs to get a filling?

At Russell Family Dentistry in Tomball, Texas, the dental team knows that proper dental care is a lifelong experience, so we offer pediatric dentistry services at our office to keep your young one’s teeth healthy right from the start. If your child needs a filling, it’s important to prepare them for the experience. Here are some of the team’s top tips.

How to prepare your child for a dental filling

Here are some tips for how to prepare your child for their filling.

Stay calm

Your child will look to you for guidance about how to feel about the news and how difficult the process of getting a filling might be. If you remain calm and positive, it will help to reassure them that it will be okay.

Ask if your child even needs a filling

Talk to our team about the necessity of a filling. If the cavity is in a baby tooth that’s ready to fall out, it may be that your child can get by without a filling. If your child is young and the tooth won’t fall out for a few years, or if the cavity is in an adult tooth, your child will likely need a filling.

If your child does need a filling, talk with our team about anesthetic options, especially if we’re doing multiple fillings. We might use laughing gas, an oral sedative, or the same local anesthetic you get for your fillings. You know your child best, so go with whatever option will keep them calm and collected.

Also, some kids do better when all their cavities are filled at the same time, while others might do better if they have several appointments spaced out over time. Advise the dentist about which format would work better.

Talk to your child using simple words

Always be honest with your child about what’s involved in a filling, but use simple and non-scary words to explain what will happen. The words you use will vary depending on the age of the child.

For a relatively young child, you might say: "Your tooth has an owie, and a filling will make it feel better. You might feel sleepy while the dentist puts in the filling, but you’ll feel a lot stronger when it’s done."

For an older child, you can use more specific terms, such as: “Your tooth has a hole in it, but the dentist is going to fix it. You might be a little scared, but he’ll give you medicine to make you feel better.”

Always try to avoid words like "pain" or "hurt."

Give your child some control

Since your child can’t control the filling procedure, give them something to do that they can control, such as choosing what they’ll wear or which toy they want to bring. Even small choices like these help them feel more in control of the situation and reduce their fears.

Prepare your child for numbness

Some children get anxious about the numbness from the oral anesthetic. And since they can’t feel their lips or tongue, they may engage in dangerous behaviors, such as biting their lips, pinching their gums, or scratching at their mouths. If you see problematic behaviors, reassure your child that what they feel is normal and will go away soon.

Be present during the procedure

Having a loved one in the room can comfort a child who’s nervous or scared of the dentist. Ask if it would be okay if you held their hand during the procedure.

Plan something fun afterward

Face it, having a cavity filled is never any fun. It helps your child be more brave if you arrange something special in advance for when the filling is done. Maybe it’s a trip to the zoo or watching a favorite movie. Pick something you know your child will like so they’ll be more willing to brave the dentist’s chair.

Want more tips on preparing your child for dental visits? Need to schedule a semi-annual check-up? Schedule a visit at Russell Family Dentistry today.

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