If your young child has multiple cavities or a severe cavity that may require a root canal or extraction, it is important that you prepare your child for their dental visit. Working with your dentist to create a positive dental experience can help prevent dental fears as your child grows and help ensure successful treatment. Here are five ways that you can help prepare your child for a longer visit that involves major dental work.
Make Sure Your Child Is Comfortable With Their Dentist
Ideally, your child will have had several visits with their dentist before they require extensive dental treatment. However, if you are going to a new dentist or it is your child's first visit and major issues are discovered, it is important to give your child time to get comfortable with their dentist. This means that if your child is not in immediate pain, you may want to schedule one or two exploratory visits, where the dentist can thoroughly assess your child's teeth and gums, and your child can get used to the dentist, the staff, and the office.
If your child is in pain and needs emergency treatment, you should be prepared for a long appointment to allow your child to get used to the dentist before the dentist begins working on them.
Discuss Treatment Options With Your Child's Dentist
It is important that you understand what the treatment options are for your child and what each option will entail. You should know how long appointments will take, whether local anesthesia or sedation will be used, and how many appointments your child will need. This information will help you prepare your child for their visit.
Ideally, you should have conversations about treatment options when your child is not in the room so you can feel free to ask questions about pain and discomfort without frightening your child. If possible, bring a second caregiver to stay with your child while you talk to the dentist alone.
Educate Yourself About the Type of Anesthesia and/or Sedation the Dentist Will Use
There are several options in modern dentistry that make dental procedures more comfortable and safe for young children. These may include local anesthesia, conscious sedation, or general anesthesia. You should ask your dentist which type of pain management they intend to use and learn about how it will be delivered. Usually, your dentist will be the best person to explain how anesthesia or sedation will work during an initial visit. However, if your child has high levels of anxiety, you may want to explain what they can expect before they arrive at the office.
Work With Your Child On Relaxation Techniques
Even young children can master basic relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. You can prepare your child for a major dental procedure by giving them ways to relax while they are at the dentist. For example, you can do a guided meditation with your child every night for the week before their appointment. During the appointment, you can complete the guided meditation again, helping your child to relax with something that is familiar and comforting to them.
Concentrate On the Positive
It is easy to get caught up in the negative aspects of treatment such as pain, but it is important that you concentrate on the positive aspects with your child. For example, point out how fun the chair is, how many cool "toys" the dentist has, and how going to the dentist will get rid of their tooth ache and give them healthy teeth.
Preparing your child for their dental appointment can help them have a positive experience and prepare them for a lifetime of dental care. For more tips, contact your local family dentistry clinic.