I took my six-year-old son to the dentist for the first time today. First, they took a whole bunch of x-rays. Then they told me he had two cavities which really surprised me because he is only six. They said they had time to fill them and mentioned it would be easier on him if we used nitrous oxide. I agreed and felt I would be too nervous to stay in the operatory so I left for the waiting room. After a period of time, they told me one of the cavities was pretty extensive and they will need to do a pulpotomy and place a stainless steel crown. I didn’t feel I had much of a choice so agreed, but shouldn’t he have seen that on the extensive x-rays? Once they finished that, they suggested I come back in a couple of weeks for their sealing clinic to get the remainder of his molars sealed. I feel like maybe some of this is unnecessary. Am I being ripped off?
I’ll take these things one at a time. Let’s start with the cavities. It is not uncommon for a six-year-old who has never been to the dentist to have a cavity or two. In fact, toddlers can end up with cavities. Both genetics and lifestyle choices can factor into whether or not your children deal with decay.
Often when we see excessive cavities in toddlers, it turns out they go to bed with a bottle filled with either formula or juice. This is disastrous for teeth. At six, it can be sticky candy they have trouble getting off or frequent snacking and juice drinking.
Nitrous Oxide for Children
Generally, we want a child’s first appointment to only entail a cleaning and checkup. This way their first impression of the dentist is a positive one. However, sometimes other issues crop up. When this happens, it is better to do everything possible to keep the child comfortable and anxiety-free. Nitrous oxide is a very safe way to do that.
Should the Pediatric Dentist Have Seen it On the X-Rays?
While x-rays are a very useful diagnostic tool and now allow us to catch things much earlier than we otherwise would have been able to, they are still just 2-Dimensional images. Our teeth are 3-Dimensional. Because of that, it isn’t always possible to see the depth of the decay involved.
Because the extensive decay was on a back tooth, it needed to be saved rather than just extracted. Those baby molars need to stay in place until they are around 12-years-old. A pulpotomy, which is a child’s version of a root canal treatment, allowed him to do just that.
Dental Sealings will Save You Money
Believe it or not, the dentist would make MORE money if he didn’t recommend the sealings. Those back teeth have lots are tiny crevices that food and bacteria can get trapped it and are almost impossible for a child to get completely brushed.
Placing sealants on those teeth will protect them from developing decay in the future. The sealants cost significantly less than a filling.
I hope this helps you feel more at ease about your pediatric dentist. Never hesitate to ask your son’s dentist why a certain procedure is necessary. If he has a hard time with that, he will not be the best dentist for you.
This blog is brought to you by Auburn, AL Dentist Dr. Raymond Bolt.