32 answers

4 Year Old with Cavities

I am looking for other mother's experiences with the filling of cavities in children. I took my son to have it done and the whole experience to me seemed ridiculous (with a plastic nose with laughing gas, a metal thing that held open his mouth, a plastic "sheet" that covered the entire inside of his mouth). He did not have it done because he was too upset with everything.
He is normally very good and calm when it comes to the dentist and Drs.
Now his dentist is recommending sedation or being put to sleep for it. I refuse to believe the only way to have my son's cavities filled is to either drug him or put him to sleep in the hospital. He has weak enamel and may have to go through this again. I am in search of what a "normal" child's cavity filling visit is like. If this is the only way so be it but I felt that an adult would have a hard time with the way his pediatric dentist was doing it! Please help with experiences!!!

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So What Happened?™

Thanks so much to everyone that responded. ESPECIALLY moms and professionals that took time to tell me cavity fillings do not have to be done this way! I did my research and found a local dentist with the same philosophy (it did not take long either!). I am thrilled to say my son had 4 cavities taken care of with no laughing gas, no novacaine,no sedation!! No drugs, imagine that!~ If your dentist says that is the only way, look around. Thanks again everyone!

Featured Answers

I agree with the doc on the sedation. I had three crowns put on around age 4 (I'm 25 now) and I think that is the single most terrifying moment in my whole life. (and i have been robbed at gunpoint) It was so painful to have that plastic "window" thing in my mouth. I remember like it was yesterday

Hi C.,

We had a similar experience with a ped. dentist, he wanted to sedate my son, put him a in straight jacket type restraint, use gas and do it all without us present...yikes! We said NO WAY and found Dr. Dean Kent in VA Beach near Mt Trashmore, he and his son Matthew are both wonderful!! My son has had many fillings done and even a few root canals and they are great, they just use the gas and novacaine when needed. Give them a try if they are near you, their number is ###-###-#### and you can tell them I sent you, S. Wheatley.

Good luck, its scary when the little folks need stuff done!
S.

My daughter has had cavities since she was three years old. We struggled with the family dentist for years. The pediatric dentist really did make a huge difference. At eight, she was able to have her first set of bite wings. I love the laughing gas. It really helped my daughter to relax. I would give the laughing gas another try. Maybe try another dentist. The dentist we used had my daughter so distracted, that the cavities were filled before she even knew what was happening.

More Answers

C.:
I've had my son at the dentist twice since he was 2 with a suspicion of weak enamel and possible decay. The Ped. Dentist told me that the issues with children that young are managing cooperation and fear. So until they can fully follow instructions like "Open, hold your mouth open, keep still, etc" that they have no choice but to use gas or completely sedate.HOWEVER - it's how the Dr. handles those things with your child that makes you feel OK about it or makes you seek out a dentist with a better bedside manner. Sounds like you need to find someone else. I asked a bunch of questions; "Is it necessary to fill these now? Are they bad enough? Can we halt any further decay until he's older and we don't have to sedate? At what point does this decay affect the permanent teeth that will come in later?" Our plan was to visit our Ped. Dentist every 3 to 6 months and have a SUPER dose of fluoride swabbed on. (very inexpensive - as we have no dental coverage)We brush with kid fluoride toothpaste 2 to 3 times daily, limit sweets, juices and he gets no soda. He is now 3 1/2 with no decay progression. I think our plan has halted the problem so that his permanent teeth will not be affected. When he is older if the problem arises I will prepare him for the office visit so we can get his cooperation. But like you - It was unacceptable to me to either restrain or sedate my toddler for this procedure - we did our homework and prevented the need for it now - and possibly for good! Blessings, S.

My son was a bit older (about 9 or 10) when he got his first cavity filled, but it wasn't that elaborate of a process. They simply used a shot of novacaine and then asked him to keep his mouth open during the drilling, etc. I suppose they might have wanted to do the laughing gas because of his age (they might not think he would cooperate with just novacaine), and if he is medicated, then they might need some of the extra equipment to help them get the procedure done. However, I also think that some dentists are quick to suggest medication. It is hard to tell which of the two options this particular dentist is going with. I would recommend that you call another dentist or two and ask them what they do when giving a 4 year old a filling so that you can tell what is considered normal for that age.

Hi C.,

We had a similar experience with a ped. dentist, he wanted to sedate my son, put him a in straight jacket type restraint, use gas and do it all without us present...yikes! We said NO WAY and found Dr. Dean Kent in VA Beach near Mt Trashmore, he and his son Matthew are both wonderful!! My son has had many fillings done and even a few root canals and they are great, they just use the gas and novacaine when needed. Give them a try if they are near you, their number is ###-###-#### and you can tell them I sent you, S. Wheatley.

Good luck, its scary when the little folks need stuff done!
S.

Dr. Edward Ginsberg is fantastic. My dental insurance didn't cover him so I paid out of pocket and it was worth every penny. He cares about the children's emotional well being as much as he cares about their dental health. Sedation was not successful for my son with the first dentist we went to and I was not willing for him to have to go to the hospital and have anesthesia at that point so I searched and found Dr. Ginsberg. I cannot recommend him highly enough.

We LOVE "Dr. Niloo" at Children's Dentistry of Oakton!!! She uses laser technology in stead of a drill and my 6-year-old thought it was so much fun he asked to have more fillings!!! She does uses "happy gas" but makes it truly seem happy instead of scary. You can find more info at www.oaktonsmiles.com

It sounds like you need a new dentist. You really don't want your child to be frightened-- he might end up avoiding dental visits for years, like I did.

I recommend Dr. Skordalakis, a pediatric dentist in Sterling. When my son was 4, he had several cavities, and the first dentist we saw wanted to sedate him. We were told that sedating a child turn a basic dental procedure into a serious medical procedure. We were also informed that they can only sedate small children for a limited amount of time, so it's possible that the child would wake before the dentist's work is completed. We went to Dr. S. for a second opinion, and had a great experience with him. I think he does use the metal thing to keep children's mouths open, but he's very gentle and warm, and somehow gives the novocaine in a way that doesn't hurt (most of the time). My son had to go a few times to have all of the cavities filled, but each time he left the dentist with a hug. Dr. S. also offers a ceiling-mounted TV, which does wonders to distract the kids while the work is being done -- and tells me that he's focused on their comfort, not just making it easy on himself. Hope that helps.

My daughter was knocked out completely when three of her teeth got fillings. It was a much better experience then if she'd been conscious. It was done in the hospital.

Get a different dentist...we have had cavities and never had all that drama.

Hi C.,
My son is 4 TODAY (10/26/04)! At the last dentist visit we had, the dentist said he has cavities and seeing as how he wouldn't even let the dentist clean his teeth this time that I would have to have him sedated for the fillings. The reason behind this is so that the child is not traumatized and will not think badly about coming to the dentist.
Good luck!

My 5 year old also has a couple cavities in baby teeth. The dentist (regular, not pediatric) did not want to give him a regular filling in a baby tooth because he didn't want to tramautize him for future dentist visits. Right now, my children LOVE to go to the dentist and ask when they get to go back! Our dentist sanded out some of the decay and put sealant over the cavity to get out the decayed part and try to prevent the cavity from getting bigger. He felt this would be sufficient since we are dealing with baby teeth.

I would call around to diffferent dentists. AF

Most dentists don't even try to give young children laughing gas. Because it's scares them. It doesn't make them unaware of what is going on just makes it not hurt and that's not enough for young children. They are afraid of the pain BUT even if it doesn't hurt it scares them. You don't want the dentist to do any harm to the inside of his mouth. Most don't even try to give them laughing gas they just knock them out. Children deal better with it that way. If it's going to happen all the time i would have him put out.

That sounds like a pretty intense experience for a four year old to handle. Dental work is bad enough without all of the apparatuses! Anyway, if you are hesitant about the sedation (seems reasonable to me), you could try a different pediatric dentist before you agree to it. I don't know where you live. My daughter's pediatric dentist (in Rockville, MD) is wonderful, and although she is not disabled, many of his patients are and can be especially challenging to work on. He has an approach that may work with your son. You could call the office and see if they think they could be helpful, given the circumstances. The dentist is Robert Morgenstein, and his office is in the top floor of White Flint Plaza in Rockville, MD. We love him. Good luck.

Hi C. -

My son is 2.5 and we had to have 2 of his molar's filled 6 months ago. we have an amazing pediatric dentist in Ashburn, I am not sure where you are located but Dr.Linda Deane-Dhuru at Ashburn Children's Dentistry is in my opinion the best. We went to several pediatric dentist's and chose her. My son was sedated in her office by a pediatric ansthesiologist. He was not completely under meaning he was not ventilated he was breathing on his own. My son went to sleep in my arms and work up in arms and the whole thing was wonderful. He loves Dr. Dhuru and looks forward to his visits there. I am so sorry that your little guy was put through such trauma. I do not blame him for not wanting to go. My suggestion is to ask his pediatrician who they would recommend. If you don't mind a drive depending on where you are visit Ashburn Pediatric Dentistry you won't be sorry. Good luck and God Bless.

My 15 year old daughter had 8 cavities at age 3 due to some problem from bud formation when I was pregnant. Dr. Avent in Newport News was great with her. We got a cherry nose thing which we practiced breathing into every night at bedtime for a week before the appointment. Come the day of the appointment she was used to the smell and administering the gas was no problem. She had two appointments to complete the work and she actually fell asleep during the second one.

My son has been going to a regular dentist since he was 3 not a pediatric dentist. All of our family go to Columbia Dental Excellence in Columbia and the dentists name is Avi Mizrachi. He is really good. My son had 3 fillings done when he was 5 and this dentist did all of them with the regular numbing of the gums with gel, the needle and just drilling. Shaun did fine and the dentist and hygenists all talked my son through it and they were great. It didn't look traumatic at all. It must have been pretty good because he still has no problems going back to the dentist isn't scared or shy. Their phone # is ###-###-####. Good luck.

I'm not sure where you live...there are a couple of pediatric dentists in my area. Two of them seem to believe in the practice that you described. The one I take my kids to does not use sedation. My middle son has had extensive work done (unfortunately) and has never had sedation nor has he had any problems getting it done. They do use novacaine, but have a way of giving it to the kids that makes it less scary. Good luck & if you are in the Harford County, MD area, send me a message & I'll give you the dentist's info.

Hey C.,

I'm so sorry to hear your little one go through such a hard experience. I take my 5 children to Dentist 4 kids in Darnestown, Dr. Paryavi. She doesn't believe in sedation and really works with the kids.

Best of luck

J.
www.northmetrodcmommies.com

I had the same experience with my 3 year old, 5 year old and 8 year old. I think its just the process, but it seemed very painless. The whole to do is alot, but that is just dentistry today. Its better than our day when we could see the big needle coming. My kids never saw the needle and didn't seem like they felt it either.

good luck

C., I have to tell ya, I would find another dentist. I think some dentist just automatically assume that because they are dealing with a child, there are going to be problems. Instead, they create problems, they cause the child to become fearful and anxious about going to the dentist. I have two children, 8 and 9. Both of which had to have a filling and they had their fillings the same as you and I would. My kids love going to the dentist to this day. I am so glad they have a dentist who understands how to make the experience less scary. Unless your child has a history of giving this dentist a hard time, I see no reason for him to do have been treated this way. And I just personally could not take my child back there. He needs to know that it was not okay and not all dentist appointments are going to be a stressful or scary experience. He now has to re-learn to trust and that may not happen with the same dentist.

My son developed a cavity in one of his baby teeth, but our dentist did not recommend filling it. Instead, he painted his teeth which prevented more cavities from forming and stopped the decay of the tooth with the cavity in it. It was a painless procedure and he never got another cavity. Our dentist was Dr. Robert Kendig. Good luck!!

Hi C.. My 8 yo daughter had to have 2 fillings done because she had 2 cavities on our dentist visit. Then on our next visit, she had another cavity. I read every response for my own personal info. The only thing they did to her was the novacaine, which I thought she would act a monkey over, but she handled it quite well. I didn't know that her first 2 cavities were in baby teeth as is the third one. Since it is in a baby tooth, I opted not to have it filled and the dentist was fine with it; will just keep any eye on it. I don't know what the procedure is for kids, but I wouldn't think that a dentist would KNOWINGLY frighten or hurt a child. My military dentist asks if I want the mouth block to hold my mouth open and they automatically put the rubber damit in my mouth. I like the block cause it helps ME to keep my mouth open. If you're uncomfortable with this, by all means seek other professional advice and it's scary enough for you without someone telling you that "children sometims don't wake up." Good luck with your procedure(s)

I agree with the doc on the sedation. I had three crowns put on around age 4 (I'm 25 now) and I think that is the single most terrifying moment in my whole life. (and i have been robbed at gunpoint) It was so painful to have that plastic "window" thing in my mouth. I remember like it was yesterday

Is there another pediatric dentist in the area? Was this person a normal dentist? In the work that I do, I have had to refer several children to a dentist to be sedated. I work with preschool children and have to make sure mom and dad get them to the dentist every 6mths. If you can find a REALLY good pediatric dentist, your son will have no problem with the sedation. It also might help to have him sedated so that he won't go through the trauma of having to keep his mouth open for the time it takes to get the filling. This is just an idea.

My nephew had to have some cavativies filled and had to be sedated. It turned out fine. The longer you wait, the more pain he'll have and the less he'll want to go to the dr. When they put the kids 'to sleep', it can usually be done in the office. Similimar to if not the mask with the laughing gas. Your son will wake up with everything fixed.
M.

My 5 year old getting ready to go through the same thing. His dentist recommended trying the laughing gas first and if that did not work we would have to go to the hospital so he could sleep for the procedure. He did tell me he preferred to try the laughing gas first, you never know what kind a reaction they will have to be put to sleep.

Good Luck Finding Your Answer ;)

They were trying to distract him and scared him instead. I'd go for the sedation if it were my kid. Much less trauma.

-S

Ok, so the problem was that you went to a pediatric dentist. My husband is a dentist, and I am a hygienist. When we were in school, we worked periodically on rotation at pediatric dentist offices. The typical person thinks they are a better option b/c it is like the difference b/t a pediatrician and a general physician. To be honest, usually pediatric dentists only see (and are trained to see) the most difficult children or handicapped children. General dentist refer children to them that they are incapable of treating, or they refer them simply b/c the dentist doesn't like treating children. They are very keen on sedating patients to get what they need done in a shorter time. I do want to point out though that there are times when this is necessary. However, it doesn't seem this is really the case. The mask you refer to is nitrous oxide sedation, and it simply helps the child to relax. Is it necessary? No, but I would probably have my own children do it as to minimize the negative experience they may have. The plastic sheet is called a dental dam, and it is NOT always a necessity (it keeps the area dry), and usually in a general dentist's office is not used. I really recommend that you talk to friends in your area and see who they recommend as a general dentist who does family practice, or sees the entire family. I can recommend someone to you, but I will leave that up to you. The answer to your question, is no it doesn't have to be this way. I wouldn't want my child "put under" either, b/c sometimes they simply don't wake up. It is rare, but unnecessary unless the child has serious mental retardation or extreme fear of the dentist and is completely unwilling to have medically necessary work done. If you would ever like a professional's opinion to just get a different viewpoint, please don't hesitate to contact us. My husband will give anyone second opinions with no fees, and he is open to discussing or helping people find other options (even if it is with someone close to your home whatever.) So, if you have any questions, please contact us. Don't allow your child to be put under unless you just absolutely have to. Please Please please visit some other dentists with your son. Find out what their philosophies are about these matters.

My daughter has had cavities since she was three years old. We struggled with the family dentist for years. The pediatric dentist really did make a huge difference. At eight, she was able to have her first set of bite wings. I love the laughing gas. It really helped my daughter to relax. I would give the laughing gas another try. Maybe try another dentist. The dentist we used had my daughter so distracted, that the cavities were filled before she even knew what was happening.

C.,

My daughter has deep groves in her molars, and had to have three fillings. She was four when we had the fillings done. A woman dentist did her fillings (smaller hands?) and we had absolutey no problems. She just had novacaine. The cavities were pretty shallow, they did all three at the same time, and the whole procedure was pretty quick. I stayed in the room the whole time. I think my daughter did so well because the whole team was laid back, straightforward and reassuring. They told her what they were doing throughout the procedure. My daughter was treated like a human being rather than a monkey needing to be restrained. It's time for a new dentist.

I should add that my daughter loves going to the doctor and the dentist. I think she almost enjoyed having pneumonia last winter because she got to see an x-ray of her lungs. What a weird girl. . .

C., I've been there and done that with my now 6 yr old, she was also 4. We tryed the same thing as you, she got so sick vomiting and a fat lip. Then our dentist, recommend us to Dr Kearns (pedadontist)sorry about the spelling not sure of it. He was the greatest it was about a hour drive for us but he was and is well worth it. We had it done at a surgery center @a hospital wonderful people all about the kids. She had 3 cavities she was in and out of surgery with in an hour. Anymore questions let me know.

It's been 11 years since my son, now 15, had his first dentist experience, but I clearly remember it because I was so impressed with the dentist and his assistant. Their practice was geared toward kids. Nothing fancy. No TV with Disney movies, few toys in the playroom, but their demeanor was kid-perfect. They introduced every instrument with a silly name: the vacuum tube was "Mr. Slurpy." We never had to do anything more than have an exam and xrays, but if we had, I'm sure it wouldn't have included the metal or mouth guard. I worked in a dentist office when I was in high school and that sort of plastic was used only for adults who were sedated for root canals. I'd recommend looking for another dentist who is more kid-sensitive. Your son's experiences could create life-long aversions to all medical people and procedures, which may prevent him from seeking all the preventative-diagnostic exams that he should do to keep himself healthy. Good dentists are out there who would not resort to sedation. Good luck.
R.

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