What to do when your child has a cavity.


You have taken your child to the dentist and the treating dentist has determined there is a cavity.  Now the dreaded filling of the cavity has to happen.  We find that many times parents, and the patient child, are caught off guard and are confused about what will happen next.  Since nearly 1/5th of children have anxiety associated with the dental chair we wanted to cover some steps to help make this treatment as seamless and comfortable as possible.  As a parent, your part is instrumental before, during and after treatment.


Before your child’s cavity appointment

If you have any additional questions, concerns, woes, ask them all to the dentist or staff privately.  Children see and hear more than we think!  Although the dental team has explained that there is a cavity and a plan to treat it, it is important to re-emphasize that the cavity is not your child’s fault and is very common.  When explaining the situation we have found it useful to use kid friendlyphrases such as “sugar bugs” or “sleepy juice” to explain that we have to remove bacteria and use local anesthetic.  Always, be positive and set the “no big deal” tone.


During your child’s cavity appointment

On the day of treatment it is crucial to reinforce that no big deal attitude and how common this appointment is for children.  Generally children do better when treated without the parent in the treatment room but the parent is always welcome to peak their head in at KTD.  Any questions should be asked prior to treatment and to the dentist or staff member privately again.  Some early cavities do not require anesthetic but the dentist has to make that decision after assessing the size of the cavity and if you have a question about this should again ask the treating dentist privately and not in front of the child.

Positive reinforcement is always a good idea.  Phrases like “awesome job,” “you did great, “that wasn’t bad,” or even “that was fun,” should be used be the parent and team alike.


Afteryour child gets a filling

After completion of the filling the dentist and team will explain to you and your child what to expect from what type of filling was officially placed, how it went, what to expect and when they can eat.  Children are notorious for wanting to play with their numb lips or cheeks and need to be supervised!  Once you and your child leave the office continue to use your positive reinforcement phrases and go have a little fun together.  When all of this is done the path for success pediatric dentistry is paved and should your child need future treatment theywill know, it is no big deal J.