64 answers

My 3 Year Old Son Has 4 Cavities!!!

So I brought my child to get his teeth checked and it turns out that he has 4 cavities. I was in shock since he just had his teeth looked at by our family dentist back in October and she said they were fine. Of course, she's not a pediatric specialist and didn't sit him down in the chair (instead had him sit on my lap). I feel like the world's worst mother... Anyway, the pediatric dentist is recommending anesthesia to put him to sleep so the cavities can be drilled and filled. I am hesitant about anesthesia but I do understand the dentist's concern. My son is strong for his age and he kicked and screamed even during his cleaning. I've heard horror stories about anesthesia gone wrong in the dental office and am very worried. Has anyone had any experience with young children & anesthesia for dental procedures? Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.

2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for all the advice! Julie K, Joanna M, Erica R: I took my son to Dr. Josh Solomon and he was the one to recommend the anesthesia. I've heard such wonderful things about him and his office & staff are very child friendly... I would get a second opinion but a couple of the cavities are huge and visible even to me. They are the 2 front teeth. The others look big and he may even need a baby crown. Right now, we're just waiting to see if our Medical insurance will cover anesthesia because Dental doesn't. Dr. Solomon suggested we use the anesthesiologist from Children's Hospital of Oakland (they charge something like $800/hr, not covered by insurance). We are still weighing our options. Decisions...decisions....
I am definitely going to cut out the juice, fruit snacks and even those Gummy vitamins he loves so much.

Featured Answers

My daughter had the same problem at about the same age. But she had to have 8 crowns for severe dental decay. The pediatric dentist explained that calcium did not pass the placenta in my third trimester and that it is a common issue. You son may have 'thin' enamel accounting for his cavities. In any event he needs them fixed. My daughter was given a drink to sedate her. We sat with her while it took effect. She was fine coming out of it - it was more like a 'twilight sleep' - the child is not too knocked out, but enough for the dentist to be able to do their work. Novacaine was still administered. My daughter did take a long nap when we got home. So try not to worry too much. He should be fine.

1 mom found this helpful

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I am a dental hygienist and also have 2 children. First, can you see the cavities yourself? Did the doctor show them to you in your son's mouth or on the x-rays? I would get a second opinion if the answer is no. It is very important to get the cavities taken care of because if they are back teeth he will have them for several years to come. I would be hesitant to put him under general anesthesia...that would be my last resort. I would first start with the nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and see if that works, if not then they can give him something to orally sedate him like Valium (he wouldn't be asleep but probably wouldn't care about what they were doing to him. I would also check in to a dentist that has a laser. We have one here in our office and its great. No shots, no drill...our patients love it. Once you get the cavities taken care of you need to evaluate why he got these cavities in the first place. You need to be brushing his teeth at least twice a day and also flossing at night before he goes to bed. I use the flossers on my kids teeth (age 4 and 18 months) and they are really easy to use...that will prevent him from getting cavities in between his teeth. He should also be on daily fluoride drops or tabs (depending on how much fluoride is already in your water...ask your pediatrician or dentist)...this will help his permanent teeth to be stronger and more resistant to decay. You want to avoid sticky foods (dried fruit, fruit snacks), and avoid refined carbohydrates and of course no soda. Juice should be limited to 4oz per day. Is he still using a bottle? If so he should be either using a cup or sippy cup...preferably a cup or one of those sippy cups with a straw (a straw limits the amount of milk/juice that comes in contact with the teeth). He should also not be going to bed with anything but water. Does he chew gum? There is a product called Xylitol that is great to use with kids...you can find it in gum and toothpaste and other products like wipes to wipe on babies gums and teeth (online check for Spry products, they're great). Cavities are caused by a specific type of bacteria. Bacteria eat sugar. Xylitol is a 5 carbon sugar that the bacteria eat, they are not able to digest 5 carbon sugars so they die. So products with xylitol are the best you can use. Good luck! And no you're not a bad mother!! Just try and work on these things and hopefully he won't have any more cavities in the future! Let me know how it turns out...If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me.

2 moms found this helpful

I am raising my 8 year old granddughter and she had to have a root canal last year where they put her to sleep. She went to a pediatric dentist in Auburn, CA and they were very gentle and extremely careful with her. She did great. You need to put some trust in your childs dentist and rest assured that when working with children they are very careful. If you are really concerned about sit down with the dentist and express your concerns and fears and see what they say, and then go with your gut instincts.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't know if this was suggested but for the future to prevent cavities - definitely avoid fruit juice & sticky candy type snacks. My daughter had 1 small cavity at age 2 and we chose not to fill it after finding out about raw milk products and their ability to heal tooth enamel. Well, we tried raw milk (Organic Pastures from Whole Foods - check the website for more info) and now, 4 years later, she is cavity-free. Her cavity healed in a matter of months! We also use IPSAB tooth powder. Most toothpaste contains glycerine which leaves a residue on teeth. Toothsoaps also are good - just google & you will find a wealth of info.

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter had the same problem at about the same age. But she had to have 8 crowns for severe dental decay. The pediatric dentist explained that calcium did not pass the placenta in my third trimester and that it is a common issue. You son may have 'thin' enamel accounting for his cavities. In any event he needs them fixed. My daughter was given a drink to sedate her. We sat with her while it took effect. She was fine coming out of it - it was more like a 'twilight sleep' - the child is not too knocked out, but enough for the dentist to be able to do their work. Novacaine was still administered. My daughter did take a long nap when we got home. So try not to worry too much. He should be fine.

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter also had many cavities and the dentist suggested we put her under. I initially couldn't believe they would recommend that. But after they talked to me and asked me if I liked going to the dentist and I said no.....I thought why, and it was because I had horrible memories as a child. We ended up having her put under at the local hospital and her dentist did the work there. I felt better that it was at the hospital just in case something were to go wrong. Everything went soomthly and my daughter doesn't remember a thing. My medical coverage actually covered the hospital part. You might want to check into if your dentist does it at a local hospital. Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi There! I too, had to put my 4yr old under anesthesia, because he is terrified of the dentist. He won't even sit still for cleanings, but my husband has to put him in a bear hug in the chair to hold him down. He too is VERY strong, and our pediatric dentist has some glass rooms for these types of kids. The dentist has a board certified anesthesiologist that is contracted to come do it, so it was a separate doctor bill. We got all the work done, and I too was hesitant, but it went smoothly. Now we just struggle with the 6mo check ups. He was a little better now that he has just turned 5.

Hope that helps to hear my story. His dentist is located in San Jose/Santa Clara area and comes highly recommended.

1 mom found this helpful

Well the other option would be to put him in a papoose like contraption and hear him scream. That is what my son's pediatric dentist told me. Crazy. I have a son who is 11 now. He has been put under 2 times to have teeth pulled. He also has a heart condition. Believe me, this is not an easy thing to do when your child has a medical condition already. I really would not worry about anything happening to him. Those cases of things going wrong are very rare. He won't remember any of it, believe me, I have had experience with this. My son also has Asperger's Syndrome and ADHD, so on top of that, there was no way he would even let anybody pull his teeth awake. Are they going to do this in the dentist office? Since his pediatric dentist didn't feel the need to put him to sleep to yank out 4 teeth, I opted to go to an oral surgeon where they were so good with him. Since he is only having cavities filled, they will probably gas him first to relax him and then put him under. Sometimes, the gas works so well that they don't need to put them under and that could be the instance for your son. Talk with his dentist, tell him your concerns, go with your gut instinct like I did. I know it is hard to have him put under but it will probably be the best thing for him. Good luck and remember, if you don't feel comfortable with what they are doing, you can always get a second opinion from another dentist like I did. There is one more thing, they can do it in a hospital but I wouldn't recommend it unless he has health issues like my son so they can monitor it.

1 mom found this helpful

From what I understand with our dentist, they would be put under at the hospital if it were necessary. You may want to clarify with the dentist. You are not the worst mother, far worse things have happened to kids, including losing their teeth entirely from neglected decay. There is a large genetic component to cavities. Just remember not to share anything that gets put in their mouth, as they are now discovering that the bacteria that cause cavities can be passed from one person to another like the common cold.

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