I need some advice. My ten -year-old started going to the dentist. His first appointment went fine. But, his second appointment didn’t go so well. It turned out he had a cavity. They decided to do the filling right then and there, but he freaked out. They tried to calm him down, but they couldn’t. We’ve rescheduled for next week. In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out how to help him with his anxiety.
Mandy W. – Washington
It sounds like they’re not an office used to working with children. A dentist who is good with children would never just spring a procedure like that on a child. It’s one thing to go toward a child with a fluoride brush. It’s totally different when a giant needle is coming at them.
Generally, it’s better if you make no big deal about it, but because he was already scared a conversation about how simple it is may help. Also, let him bring some music and headphones to listen to and relax him throughout the appointment.
You know your son best, but depending on his personality you may explain why it’s important to get the filling done. He wants to avoid needing a more serious procedure like a root canal treatment or a tooth extraction. Those procedures are scarier.
Also, let him know that being brave doesn’t mean you’re not afraid of something. It means you do something even though you’re afraid. That’s exactly what soldiers do all the time.
As a last resort, you could take him to a pediatric dentist who does sedation. That will enable him to essentially sleep through the procedure. It’s very safe, but you’ll want to go to someone with experience with working with both sedation and children.
It’s generally better if you first take your children to the dentist much younger than ten. When you wait until they’re older, they’re more likely to need an invasive procedure. This way their first experiences are positive ones.
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