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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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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I have 2 boys and my oldest, who is now four, went through anesthesia and had almost every tooth worked on. First, I felt horrible parent because my 2 year old had all these cavities. The Dr. said it was from breastfeeding at night! I had a hard time with that. It's much better to put them under then to have each tooth worked on. Going through the surgery is hard emotionally for the parent but kids recover very quickly and my boy was eating that night. I have found that brushing there teeth two times a day was the most important change. With my first one I wasn't as diligent with brushing but my youngest son has had only one cavaty.
Even though I have to sometimes hold him down to brush, I do it! Good luck.

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The same thing happened to my son. We had a great dentist who recommended putting him under and filling all 4 at one time. I was very apprehensive not to mention I had to pay $800 for the anestesia since our insurance didn't cover it. After much deliberation I went ahead and scheduled him . I didn't want him to have a terrible dental experience and grow to be a 40 year old man afraid of going to the dentist because of what happened to him when he was 3. Aside from all this, I felt like a terrible mother, We always brushed and candy was rarely allowed. You would have thought I'd fed him Pepsi in his bottle! The dentist told me the enamel on his teeth was so thin, she can almost chip it off. Then I talked to a friend who is a dental hygenist who pointed out that those darn fruit snacks my son loved so dearly, were killers on the teeth. She said he is almost better off having chololate becasuse it doesn't stick so much. Anyway, the procedure went well and I have never regreted doing it. To this day he always has a positive dental experience. Good Luck!

Hello! I have a 4 year old that has 7 cavities and 2 of those she needs to have baby root canals on. She is going to the dentist this Friday and will be put under anesthesia. I talked to the anesthesiologist and he told me he has never had any problems and he asured me that everything will be fine he said he brings 500lbs of equipment with him for that just in case moment and he has never had to use it. He said the only side effect is they are cranky for the rest of the day they feel like they have a hang over. I am sure everything will go fine. I can give the name of my daughters dentist if you would like they are in San Jose.

Hi D.:
Dr. Josh Solomon is great and very qualified; and his new office is very nice. He treated my son with general anesthesia from that group and it was wonderful!
You're in good hands
Good luck.

After seeing all the advice from other parents and dental personnel I must add that it is of good intention, but I have to disagree in regards to the fluoride applications.
I am a former dentist, now devoted to my family, that knows all about the dangers of fluoride (which is a poison); most dentists are not aware of this danger. Fluoride applications are dangerous because the child can swallow some of the rinse. But even if they don't swallow it, it's still dangerous. A child may even die if he swallows the contents of a toothpaste with fluoride.
I would recommend to buy the toddlers' fluoride free toothpaste for all children.
Fluoride is not escential to healthy teeth (consider the healthy minerals for instance).
You can find very relyable info on the internet; try:
the fluoride desception (can't remember the web site)
type: dangers of fluoride, etc.

Another important thing to consider:
Dentist tend to give children too many x-rays, which I find useless (only when they have overcrowding or another serious problem). I've learned that one can get cancer just to the exposure of ten bite wings (the little x-rays for individual teeth). It's not a rule, but it can happen. We should always avoid any unecessary radiation, especially in our children.
Many dentists recommend that you get a full mouth x-ray every two years - this is unecessary if you or your teeth are healthy.
Just my two cents.

I completely understand your hesitation. I would be very skeptical as well. I would definitely call your ped's doc and ask them what they think before putting your son under.

You are living what I went through!

I had the same problem with my then 3 year old. I was taking my son regularly to pediatric dentist every six months because his teeth came in early. We moved, so I tried a certain well-known, supposedly well-liked pediatric dentist in Livermore. I took him in and was told he needed alot of work and would need anesthesia. (On top of that, he requested money upfront even though I have good dental insurance - which is unheard of.) I knew something was not right, so I took him back for a second opinion to our old pediatric dentist in South San Francisco. In 30 years, our old pediatric dentist has never had to sedate a child and secondly, he did not need all the work that the Livermore dentist had claimed. By the way, my son didn't act any differently at either dentist!

It took me two bad dentists to find one good dentist for myself and my husband. Unfortunately, my children must go through the same thing. Good dentists are hard to come by.

P.S. You are a good mother!


Hello, I share your concern. My son was a little over a year when I noticed his top front teeth getting some brown spots. He started getting his baby teeth in at four months, so that might have been one cause. I nurse him through the night, the easiest way to put and keep him sleeping through the night. Frowned-on by dentists, of course, but it's a controversial subject, and a personal choice, one that should be made after educating ones' self, especially with a child with problem teeth. Anyway, I didn't want to use the general anesthesia method either. I went the route of the very inhumane feeling/heart-breaking way of the 'papoose'-Velcro strapped wrap. It seemed very traumatic for my boy, but better that than the very slight chance of the unthinkable, by the other method. Needless to say, after the local anesthetic procedure, which did include some head movements, screaming, crying(by me too), my son was exhausted, but I gave him so much lovies, that he got over it and his teeth were fixed. He had a bad case, though. His teeth needed grinding down and then composites, and we even had to come back again because the dentists didn't want to do it all in one day. So, that might be the worst case scenario. I hope yours' is not that traumatic. Whatever you choose, just be sure to brush your son's teeth often and well, to try to avoid more dentist work.
Good luck.
P. -A stay home mom

My dentist suggested the same for my daughter. She was extremely nervous about going to the dentist and needed a good deal of work done as well. In lieu of putting her to sleep for the treatment, he suggested (as a much less scary and less expensive route) using the n.o./gas to relax her during the treatment. She was completely relaxed and made it through just fine. In addition, they have televisions mounted in their ceiling which gives the child something to do while they're working. She is no longer nervous to go to the dentist. The dentist has everything to do with the state of your child's nervousness/frustration. I highly recommend, Dr. Fridgen (pediatric dentist) in San Jose. It's a very kid friendly office. Best of luck~

Hi D..

Anesthesia sounds a bit invasive for such a small child and for cavities. I would definately get a second opinion. A friend of mine is going thru a similar situation, her son is 6 w/a large and a small cavity. She didn't like the suggestion from her own ped dentist, it didn't sit well just like you and she went and saw our family dentist. She was so glad to have gotten a second opinion, as our dentist is really educated on all the new dental technology. The large cavity will require a filling but the small one will be removed w/a laser and therefore, no pain!
I say search around until you're comfortable with the choice for your guy :)

Good luck, S. B

I've so been there! I am a sort of anal mom about the food my children eat; little sugar, much produce, mostly organic, and I breastfeed both until they were two. My four year old had two cavities, which was absolutely devastating. However, my two year old had an entire mouth full of cavities (there's debate as to whether breastfeeding contributes to this, or if it's more genetic, or even possibly a result of specific medication that softened his teeth)! He had to undergo anesthesia to get his mouth taken care of, as well. The anesthesia was done in-office by an anesthesiologist from Children's Hospital Oakland, and it allowed for them to do x-rays, fillings, drillings, etc. Though we were nervous, it worked out absolutely fine and since he had the procedure done first thing in the morning, by the early afternoon after a bit of a nap, he was back to his normal, running- around self. The pediatric specialist we went to was Dr. Josh Solomon, out of Livermore and we will never go anywhere else again for any of our children, he is absolutely wonderful! My only advice would be to find a dentist that you are very comfortable with and that your child enjoys, since that's where you'll probably be taking him for the next 15 or so years! I'm sure he'll be fine and he will have beautiful teeth to boot! Good luck!

As a 53 yr old mother and with some expierience as a dental assistant. Did they take x rays? Why did you change Dentist? Did you consult with your family Dentist? OK down to busniss, you will always hear horror stories but what you don't hear is the success stories. Anything can go wrong even crossing the street. I personally would get another opinion first. But if he does have the cavities it is better at this age to use nitro so he does not get tramatized and fear the dentist for the rest of his life. My son lived through it and they all have had good expierences with the dentist of course I was fortunate to have a wonderful dental office that we have used now for over 25 years.

Good luck with this and make sure you brush his teeth at night and him in the mornings. Beware of sticky candies and crackers they stick to the teeth.

R. mom of 3 sons grown now

My 4 year old has 3 cavities that we are getting filled next month. I was surprised too because he is such a good brusher, but I had trouble with my teeth too...Deep groves or something like that. The pediatric dentist is going to give him a pill to make him sleepy but not put him under. Maybe the dentist has something like that. I'd be hesitant to put him under too, but there is no way the cavities can be filled while he's wide awake.

get 2nd opinion from other dentist. this one may be lookin for ur money

Don't feel like a bad mom, he probably has soft teeth and that is genetic. Now you know you will have to be extra strict about sugar and brushing.

I would get a second opinion. Seriously.

It may be that your dentist is totally honest, but what if s/he is not? Then you will have put your child through neesless (scary) dental procedures. I have personal experience with a dishonest dentist. Boy was I glad I got a second opinion.

my three year old had that many too and also needed caps on her molars!! I was feeling like such a loser too. I took her to a ped dentist and they said oh she looks ok but lets get them filled. I didnt really like that dentist so I switched and went to a new one and come to find out her teeth were beyond filling, she needed caps or a root canal. I brushed her teeth and flossed them so it wasnt my fault but I did feel terrible. He assured me it was just the way it was, meaning some kids have this issue and some dont. I gave her flouride too but obviously wasnt brushing properly. I did the whole deal...anesthesia and all. It was costly but she got everything fixed and did preventive stuff too. You are not terrible its just what happens. Some kids never get cavities and dont brush??? I took my children to Dr. solomon in livermore and he is fantastic. I know there are other great dentist out there so just look. The anesthesia was worse for me...seeing her wake up was tough and I was 8 months pregnant with number 3 so it wasnt easy. ;-0 You need to take care of it now so you can hopefully do your best and know you are. I didnt know technique of brushing and of course now we use ACT, because she can spit.

Hi D.,

My son, who is 3 1/2 has already had two cavities filled and was diagnosed with his third today. Not fun. However, the procedure doesn't have to be traumatic. I first went to a pediatric dentist who wanted to sedate my son, but after talking to a lot of other moms I realized that this might not be necessary, so I got a second opinion. The new pediatric dentist (Dr. Robert Khalil at Oridna Pediatric Dentistry) was wonderful and was able to complete the procedure with just using nitrus gas, which calmed my son, but didn't put him out. My son didn't have any side affects from the gas and he's not afraid to go to the dentist.

It's a tough decision, but understand that it might not be necessary for your son to be sedated.

Good luck!

Hi D.,
When my daughter was three she had four cavities and the doctor also recommended anesthesia for her. I was also hesitant but she was also very strong and she would have put up a strong fight. We decided to go through with it and it worked out very well. I don't think the dentist would have been able to fill her cavities and do the work he did without having her under. I will warn you though, that giving her the injection was not fun. She saw the doctor coming with the shot and it took three nurses and me to hold her down to give her the shot. I held her until she calmed down and then they could do the procedure. Good luck. T.

Hi D.,
I have been a dental assistant for 18 years now and I have seen young and old with cavities. The anesthesia that is administered is safe. The dosage is determined by the patients age and weight. If you are still uncomfortable with that I suggest going to another pedo dentist that offers nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or a office that uses papoose boards. Good Luck! If you have anymore questions please let me know!

My son had two cavities found when he was about 5...i felt horrible too...they were tiny ones on the back of the last molars on the top. i too was worried about how they were going to fill them and if he would sit still. our dentist said that since they are still "milk" teeth, he wouldn't need anything to numb, especially since the cavities were tiny and on the surface..she said of course they would give hime laughing gas if something hurt....he sat there like a trooper and didn't even flinch when she did them..i think the drill, or "mr bumpy" was wierd for him, but nothing ever hurt him...maybe your dentist can just plan on doing one at a time?? or maybe can hurry and get two done at a time if he cooperates...and bribe him :)
after that experience, my son now gets $5 for each dentist appt that he gets a clean bill of health..

My 4 year old had cavities as well and I too felt like a horrible mother. Then I got over it by taking care of it. My daughter kicked and screamed before going into the office. We had to put her under because one of her cavities was obvious to even myself. She had a good experience going under. Struggled for a few seconds, then she was out. They were ables to do x-rays and clean and fill. I wasn't able to stay by her side because I would only be in the way. The anesthesiolist, Dr. Targ, stayed and monitered her the whole time. After we left the office she slept another 2 hours and was very hungry when she woke up. The hard part was that it was very emotional for me. She is just so young and to see her fight and be out was hard for me to see. I was so glad to have my husband there for support. If you decide to go thru, make sure you bring someone to lean on. There is a medication for the child that relaxes them. My older son used that when he was 3 and it worked for him. But my daughter was so resistant the dr. said that she would still fight it. The dentist also suggested coming back for check ups to just see how she is brushing. We have done that twice so far and this last time after crying, we left with her saying that he is a nice dr. so we are going back just to say hi a couple of more times and walk around the office before her next cleaning. His name is Dr. Randy Ligh, in San Jose. He is an awesome dentist and he also told me that my daughter didn't have as many cavities as her first opinioned dr. told us.

my stephen, had his 4 front teeth pulled, n 2 caped...
cap..tooth..4 missing..tooth.. cap.. he is only 2 his b-day is sept. n he had the work done on jan. 25th of this year. i didnt put him down. n he had the longest hr n 15 min i'd ever known, during the persidure but he did ok with out being put down. besides like said ther are to many thing that could go wrong, but if he's awake i'm shure you can be there when it's done. i was there it was conferting, to have me there to hold him after wards, i dont think you could hold him if he was put under, plus it' could take all day, n who knows what to do? none of my others had any probels with there teeth untell now.. n isaac is 4 & n may will have one pulled on top. never had any thing wrong. n i couldnt belive stephen had 4 dead ones n 2 cavaties..that needed caped. never thought you take a 2 year old for cavities?? though, if i had the opertunity to put him down or do it difrent not shure i would. stephen did have night mears about it for a what seamed like a long time. he screamed just about the hole apointment. but i think it was worth it so i could be there n help him though it. i my self had night mares about putting him down, so if my por 2 year old can do it n come out in just about one pease, im shure your 3year old son, can handle it. i know it was a big thing to me n a lot of other people including my peditritian. so please let know what you deside n what happens.. cause like i said my boy just turned 4 n had 4 pulled n 2 caped, my huspand made a joke n calls him mr vampire..cause his tooth on each side of his caped tooth looks like a fang,... lol n w/ his 4 front teeth gone he dose look like it..lol good luck. your friend..P. E. Rogers... ____@____.com please tell me what you deside n how he dose, n know it's hard, but you can handle it i;m shure he will be ok i'm sorry he has to do it. i almost wanted to cry when they where working on him but i'm glad he got in n out! i dont think i would put him down the more i think about it. he is my pride n joy my babbey, the youngest! i love so much. he's doing lots better now though.. so best wishes.. take care of him! i know he'll need his mom no matter what you deside.. i know mine did! ttyl i hope bye

I had a similiar experience with my son. My son is diagnosed with adhd. I took my son to a dentist when he was 5. The dentist told me to give him a pill. He refused to take the pill. It was only to relax him. Not only refusing it, he flipped out literally. He had the opposite reaction to the medicine. The dentist couldn't do anything so he asked me to bring him back. He suggested a pill with a liquid of some sort. They strapped him down like a person being executed. I really didn't like what I was going on. My son bit me in the shoulder. The medicine took me an hour to wear off. The last resort was anastetic. If your son can't still, it would be better to have it. With all the trouble I had, its safe, and for a short time.I remember being gassed and knocked out.

Don't feel so bad. My daughter was 7 when we went to the dentist for the first time in 3 years. (Had a bad experience.) She had told me she had a hole in her tooth one day, but I didn't listen. She has a huge abcess and lost her tooth. She didn't have any pain until the infection bulged out the side of her jaw. Half the tooth was gone. I felt terrible, but the dentist said it happens all the time. The kids don't hurt so no one notices. She lost another tooth the next year the same way. Good luck.

I had a similar experience with my oldest daughter when she was 4. She had one cavity and was scared of her dentist. I was really hesitate to do the sedation but knew it would be the only way her cavity would be worked on. My pediatric dentist office did a conscious sedation and it worked wonders.

I would be leary of a dentist telling you this contradictory info, especially if you take good care of your son's teeth. Can you get a second (or third LOL) opinion? I personally would not do the any drilling or filling, but would regardless definitely take him to another dentist before putting fillings in baby teeth that will be falling out in a yr or 2 anyways.
I know it is sad, but dentists have an easy time taking advantage of people in this way.
ETA: I saw the "So what happened?" and wanted to add, if you can already see the cavities in the front, the back ones are worse. (I went to dental assistant school, and this is where I learned this info).
Hope that helps!

Hi D.,
I'm a registered dental assistant with 18 yrs experience and I wouldn't recommend trying to fill his teeth without general anesthesia, especially since he doesn't tolerate cleaning well. I have to share an experience I had while working with a dentist on the coast. This little boy came in with quite a few cavities but did well during x-rays and cleaning. When we reappointed him for the fillings the dentist gave the mother a prescription for a "pedo cocktail" to sedate him. The boy came to his next appointment totally out of it, but when we started giving him the local he woke up and freaked out! The dentist ended up strapping this little boy to a papoose board which restrained him from head to foot and preceded to do the fillings while the boy was screaming and crying. BTW, the dentist used a bite block to keep the little boy's mouth open which must of been even more terrifying for him. It was all I could do to keep from crying myself. At the end of the day, I quit! I have seen too many adults permanently traumatized by experiences like this as children. So, to make this experience the least traumatic for you AND your son, I would have general or twilight sedation done. It is safest if you can do it in a hospital, but I don't know if your pedodontist does it. As for not worrying because the teeth will fall out, my hubby is a dentist and they were taught in dental school that if a parent leave active decay in a child's mouth against the recommendation of a dentist it is consider child neglect and endangerment due to the serious health risks that untreated decay can cause including heart problems. Just make sure the dentist is licensed to perform sedation, it requires additional education and continuing education. As for preventing future cavities, always brush before bedtime and only allow water after brushing. If he still takes milk to sleep, break that habit ASAP. Foods to watch out for(besides the obvious ones like candy & soda) are juice, dried fruit,(raisins are the worst) and anything else that sticks in his teeth. Even breastmilk causes decay. The is some controversy about breastmilk, but the ADA hasn't changed it's position. In fact, studies have proven that breastmilk is MORE cariogenic than cow's milk. Make sure YOU are brushing his teeth, child are unable to do a thorough job, and getting all the white, sticky stuff off. And if you don't have fluoridated water, give him a fluoride supplement so the permanent teeth will be strong. If you have questions, email me. If I don't know the answer I will find out. Sorry that your little one has to go through this.

Hi D.,

I do understand and your child will be fine. Talk to your childs doctor about this I did. They will help you and also talking to the dentist as well about your concerns.

I took my child when she was 2 to the dentist and she had 8 cavities all in the back teeth on both sides. I was horrified! I felt terrible. I discussed with the doctor and she said, it was probably from lying the child down with a bottle of milk.
I had all her teeth filled and sealed. We used anthesia and I was nervous at the time. I called her pediatrician and discussed it with him and one of the nurses too.
We scheduled the appt after I spoke with her doctor.
I stayed with her all the whole time. She was never out of my sight during her visit.
We came in that morning and they weighed her and gave us the dose she needed. She played in the waiting area while it took effect. It her made her dopey and wobley. That is all.
Afterwards we went home and rested and watched a movie. She acted fine and was able to eat after we got home. She has never asked about it and she was great during her visit. She goes to a pediatric dentist office. ( Also, I was told to not give her raisens, fruit snacks they stick tot he teeth and watch the punch intake. Soda rots the teeth. Luckily, she does like punch and she does not drink soda. She is 8 now and has not had another cavity. I take her twice a year to the dentist.

I had cavities every time I went to the dentist when I was a little kid. Crummy enamel. I was given nitrous oxide every time, and I still remember the swimmy, dreamy feeling of it. If what your dentist is suggesting us nitrous oxide, my feeling is that it's pretty safe. I never had any ill effects from it.

Who is your dentist first of all because I live in Tracy and have the most awesome dentist for my little ones in the world!
My now 11 year old had cavities from breast feeding when she was only eighteen months old and went through sedation and trauma with a not so great dentist. My youngest who is now four had the same thing, but with this dentist we have, they are so incredible with her that she acts like she's going to disneyland when she has a dentist appointments. I'm not kidding. She loves her dentist and so do I. I strongly urge you to find someone that you completely trust with you little ones mouth. I'm happy to share my dentist's name with you if you're interested. They also have a office in Stockton.

We've been through cavities with two kids. My first had two matching cavities in molars where the enamel didn't form well. My youngest had four due to a tight frenum. We'd been brushing since before teeth with both kids, so most frustrating. Anyhow, my older had one filled by my dentist with no drugs or pain relief whatsoever, and it went well. Then a pediatric dentist filled the second tooth, but did all the anesthesia. It was horrible (and scary for me). The process of getting the anesthesia took enough time that he was completely freaked out before we even began. They gave him some kind of drug to drink, nitrous oxide, and novacaine. Complete overkill for a tiny, shallow cavity, in my opinion. With child #2, we have a much better ped. dentist, and he just did a quick shot of novacaine at the site, and filled all four cavities in about 20 minutes. We had to strap him to a board and hold him down, which was awful, but it was much quicker and less traumatic, I think, then going with all the anesthesia. So, my recommendation would be to find a different dentist who you feel more comfortable with. Most plans allow for two visits per calendar year, so you may luck out and be able to get a new appt with a new dentist covered. Don't know where you live, but our dentist is Brian Quo in Palo Alto, and I would recommend him very highly. He's proactive and offers lots of information that other dentists don't share for some reason. Good luck!

I would get a second opinion on he peds dentist. Not all of them will put the child out for the fillings. They will take there time and do it at the childs pace.
they need to get the idea of what it is like, and see how it goes. If the dr. won't even let you come to the back, just to look around and then leave, do not leave your child there. I am a retired dental assistant, and I have seen a few very bad Dr.s. Check in with some others.

Beware of the drill and fill dentists out there that will use fancy cameras and promise perfect white fillings in all teeth. Some of these dentists are money driven, they remodel their offices every few years, and run their offices by processing patients. There are great dentists out there too. Just get a second opinion from a dentist who would consider themselves as taking conservative position on dental care. I took my daughter to a pedi dentist who said she had a cavity, and then to my dentist how said there is no cavity there...interesting. I've also been to an office where the dentist wanted to remove all my old fillings and replace them with all sorts of reasons why they should be redone. My dentist said they are fine, just wait until they need to be replaced rather than stir things up. My daughter was very afraid of the dentist and the laughing gas worked well for her. I could never get her to take a med to relax her prior to the appt (prescribed by our Pediatrician for this purpose). Just my two cents.

When my son was about 3ish, he too had cavities, I too felt like the worst Mother ever...you need to get over that! We changed our sons diet, no gummy candies, fruit leather etc. started brushing more consistently etc. Our sons dentist, also a pediatric dentist did not reccomend anesthesia, and the filling went well, her name is Gila Dorostkar. Maybe you need another opinion. I dont think I would have wanted to put my son under either. By the way after that first experience, our son has never had another cavity! Good luck.

My daughter had a fractured tooth repaired and a frenulectomy done at the same time under anesthesia when she was 9 years old. She was treated in the dentist office under I.V. sedation with a pediatric anesthesiologist administering and monitoring the sedation.

We were fortunate that the dentist group we use hires qualified anesthesiologists. According to their Introduction, the anesthesiologists were qualified to provide anesthesia in an office setting, with emergency and routine equipment available on site, have medical licenses as well as a "General Anesthesia Permit" issued from the Board of Dental Examiners, and have extensive pediatric anesthesia experience over 20 years, and are active members of the 'Society of Office Based Anesthesia'.

Before the appointment, the anesthe'gist contacted us and addressed our concerns and allergies, etc. Before the dental procedure, my child received a pre-medication while with us - a shot or oral preparation to relax and make her 'sleepy' before the IV line was placed. She was not supposed to remember the subsequent visit from then on. At the end, the IV also delivered pain medication and anti-nausea medication. She was still 'sleepy' after the 2 hour long procedure in the AM, but recovered very easily and quickly by the afternoon. Seemed to have no recall of the dental procedure.
Hope this info helps!

I just went through the same thing with my 3 year old daughter. I took her to a Pediatric dentist in Tracy. She used laughing gas and a type of blanket that keeps their arms and legs in place instead of anesthesia. I was really nervous about how she would do, but she did great! The laughing gas calmed her down and she had two fillings and a cap done. The dentist's name is DR. Razi and her number is ###-###-#### and she is on Grant Line rd in Tracy, just in case you are interested in a different approach.

Hi D., Please, please, please get a second opinion! I went to a new dentist a few years ago and he said that I had 7 or 8 cavities and needed 4 caps replaced right away. I went for a second opinion (it had only been about 10 months since my previous dental check up which had shown no problems.) The second dentist said everything was fine!! I told him about the other dentist and he said that there were a couple of areas he was going to keep an eye on, but nothing major, and that my caps had years to go before needing to be replaced. If your son doesn't have to go through having a cavity filled at 3, that's a good outcome. My daughter had one at 5 and she was fine without a lot of drugs. She loves her dentist (who is also my dentist from the 2nd opinion) and she's had a couple of cavities filled over the years (she's 12 now).

Good luck!

Ask your dentist if they do the water laser treatment instead. My 4 year old daughter just last week had one cavity filled. They didn't use needles, sedation or anything. She just watched Dora on the tv while they used the laser. It was completely safe and quick. The laser just squirts out the cold water like when they rinse you off. It was that simple. Hope this helps.

Dear D.,
You are not the worst mother in the world, although I know exactly how you feel. My daughter got cavities as well, right around the same age and I learned a very valuable lesson which helped with my second child as well as many friends. I couldn't believe she had cavities...I didn't let her have candy, only cake or cupcakes at birthdays, etc. Apple juice was the culprit. My daughter LOVED apple juice and I thought I was doing the right thing giving it to her. Turns out, apple juice is one of the worst things for a kids teeth. That, and raisins. If you give your kid either of those two things, and there are other things that do the same, you have to brush or at least make sure they rinse with water afterwards. Otherwise, the sugars just attack their little teeth. And those fruit sugars are actually worse than candy. It sounds like you have taken your son to a good pediatric dentist, so make sure you talk to them about the "healthy" stuff you are giving your kid that could be causing the problem. Secondly, I worked in a pediatric dental office and I really think you should express your concerns about anesthesia so you get it out in the open. Ask exactly what "anesthesia" means. Often, it is liquid valium given prior to the appointment. And/or nitrus. But, let me assure you, at our office, kids were given medicine to help them relax appointment after appointment and there were never any problems. A dentist can't work on a child who is freaking out and fighting. And under those circumstances, the child is afraid to ever return. I could tell you a million nightmare stories about my daughter's dental experiences. And finally, I found the right guy. He wasn't even a pediatric specialist. There was just something about him that she trusted. She was (and is) incredibly intelligent, so she never bought into that "babying" routine. She asked questions and he answered them. She asked him if it was going to hurt and he said that it just might, a little bit, but if it does, all she has to do is tell him and he will make sure it doesn't. He let her check out the drilling instruments so she would know what noises whe would be hearing, let her squirt the water and check out the aspirator so she knew everything he would be using. He even showed her the x-rays and the "bad" stuff that was really going to hurt her if he didn't fix it. It might not have worked for all kids, but it worked for her. She adored him. She drew him pictures and insisted on making him sandwiches that she took every time she went.
Try not to worry. Ask the questions. I know you are worried, but if you can remain calm it will really help your son. The objective is getting his cavities taken care of. So, you hang in there.

Have you seen pictures of the x-rays and know that he definitely has all those cavities. If I were you I would want a second opinion. Or have you known this dentist for a while?

I don't have any other experience, sorry but just wanted to drop a note.

Good luck!

When my daughter was around 4, she had to have all of her molars crowned. My husband and I had both had frequent cavities as kids and the dentist said she was just 'lucky' enough to inherit those traits from both of us. We use a FANTASTIC pediatric dentist in Willow Glen, Dr. Rabitz. He used nitrous on my daughter and she never even knew she got shots. I'm now getting ready to take one of my 5 yr olds in to get some small cavities on his molars taken care of and they'll use the nitrous on him, too.

Good luck!!!

I was in the exact place you are except my daughter had 8 cavities. I felt the same shock, guilt and fear. I asked other parents in my area (and pediatricians and my dentist) who was the BEST pediatric dentist. I took my daughter to her and she was great. The options were trying one section (lower right, upper left, etc) at a time with nitrous oxide or ALL with anesthesia. She explained when you do all of them it can be harder to recover because the child will have some difficulty chewing for a few days. I was so nervous but decided to try the nitrous oxide, realizing it would take 4 visits to get all the work done. My daughter would kick and scream and refuse to cooperate at cleanings so I was nervous about how she would do. The dentist had a TV in her ceiling so my daughter watched cartoons and wore the funny 'elephant nose' giving her the nitrous. I am happy to say she did fantastic. So my advice would be to find the best pediatric dentist in your area (hopefully one with a TV in the ceiling because that really seems to distract them) and try the nitrous first.
Good luck!

Hi, D., I'm not writing to tell you about anesthesia, but rather our pediatric dentist. They use laughing gas to relax them for procedures. It has seemed to work for my daughter(5) when she had to have cavities(5) filled. I would ask if that is possible because it is not as dangerous as anesthesia. They also flush the gas out with pure Oxygen for a few minutes before they let her go. Good luck!

I think my son needs some dental work so I'm interested to read the responses here.

My son just had to have dental work done. I too felt awful. It has been really hard on me, more so then him. They don't do sedation dentistry, BUT they put him in a chair flat on his back, and the papoosed him down, I sat with him for a few, told him all about how awesome he was doing, and how after he would get a treat for his wonderful bravery. They won't let mommy's in there as they want the child to understand that the dentist is the boss at that time, and that is who he/she needs to listen to, it sounds awful harsh, and it was really hard on me, but I know it was best. He came out of the office a little achy from the Novocain, but told me he was brave, and when were we going to get his toy! HE looks back on it and says he was brave, he did well.

I too felt like a bad mommy, my children brush regularly etc, and seeing that my little man had to have filings was very upsetting to me. But we're over and done now, and he's so happy and proud of himself. Some children just get cavities, it is not a reflection of you mothering honey! :)

Is there another Ped dentist that can not sedate him? I don't blame you at all for your reservations on that!


My youngest son loves food he eats everything, compared to my other two boys there both horrible eater's. So the same when I took them all in to the dentist they all had no cavities except for my little one he was 4 year's old at the time, he had 3 cavities so when the Dr. said it was very bad I felt oh my gosh but he's my only good eater. Well so then we had to set up an appointment, she was also a child specialist dentist, and she explained everything, well it was rough, she gave him the sleepy time juice so she didn't put him all the way out, but it wasn't enough he woke up and boy it was terrible he tried running out of there and screaming and still on medicine, so after all that I had to take him back again to finish, because by now he had tooth ache's. and she did give him more medicine, he was still so up set, I never want to piu him through that again. Needless to say it's been two year's and now when I have to take him to the dentist I see someone else who is not a child specialist, because Brandon wont ever go there AGAIN IN HIS LIFE. But we have been able to keep his cavies under control and you know our Pediatric specialist dentist didn't offer the
put him out to sleep and I really would of gone that route instead of putting him through the pain twice.

Thanks Theresa

considering most his teeth will fall out I would wait!!! Get a 2nd opinion!!!!

Last year I took my then 7 year old for his check up, where I was told he had 5 Cavities! Now this is a very reputable Ped Dentist in Pleasant Hill... everyone loves this gal! I reluctantly make the appointment to have them filled before we leave. As we get in the car I hear this weird voice in my head saying *get a second opinion, this doesn't seem right*! So I call up, as I am still sitting in the parking lot, and old friend who has a practice in Berkley to ask him about it, he tells me to go get the x-rays and bring them over. Well you should have seen the receptionist face when I walked back in and asked for the x-rays and told her I was getting a second opinion.. LOL!! My friend did his own full exam and set of x-rays on my son and said he saw NOT ONE CAVITY!!!!! I was pretty proud of myself.. but then remembered that in the past he had his 2 front teeth pulled and 3 Cavities filled. The teeth were pulled because as they explained *they may be infected, better safe than sorry*... one of them was slightly discolored. My husband and I both have soft teeth, lots of root canals, cavities... we are a Dentists dream, so I had just assumed that my son was cursed like we were! Now I wonder everyday, did those 2 teeth really need to be pulled? Did he really have those cavities? I will never really know! Anyway just for wrap up sake, my husband went down to her office and made a stink, she cut him a check for every dime we had ever spent there (we dont' have Dental ins). And I have trashed her all over the Internet and reported her.

I guess what I am saying is sometimes it's good to get a second opinion :)

ths is a fairly common practice with young children and statistically the chances of anything going wrong are very slim. my son is 2 and has a chipped tooth that needs repair. his "surgery" is next week. although i am a complete stress case over it, i am pretty confident he will be fine. they do these all the time and there will be medical staff there to monitor him while he is under. thats why they do it in a hospital and they will have you get a full physical by a pediatrician 2 days prior to be sure he is healthy enough to undergo a procedure. just think how many kids have much more seriouse surgeries every day, it's not heart or brain surgery. just dental work and when it's done he won't remember a thing and he won't be traumatised and afraid of the dentist becasue he will have been napping while they worked. the baby teeth hold the place for the permanent teeth so it is very important to keep them healthy too.

My best friend worked in a dental office and she would say some children were so out of control because of fear and the UNKNOWING that they would give the kids Nitrous... Talk to the dentist about your fears and maybe you can both decide on some suitable options... Just so you know , cavities happen! I have three kids one doesnt brush and has beautiful teeth one brushes and her teeth are filled with cavities.. I cant win but our dentist says it is what it is...... .. Good luckkkkkkkkkk

My son also has cavities. At age 4, he had 7. Our dentist started off giving him the local for the first time, then he did the laughing gas. That was enough for us. My son was very good in the chair and didn't cause any problems. He did, however, have tantrums after 2 of the visits. I learned later to be prepared- have a special or new toy waiting. I would ask your dentist to try the gas first. Full anesthesia seems like it's too much for a little person and not necessary in my opinion. Good luck.

Filling four cavities on an unwilling child is tough on everyone. My daughter had to have a couple of cavities filled when she was 2 and she just drank what they called "sleeping juice' and after about 20 minutes she was out cold. The hard part was just before she went unconscious, she fought hard and I had a hard time holding her so she didn't hurt herself. I recommend having someone strong come with you to help out if they use this method. She woke up later and was pretty groggy the rest of the day, but she thought it was funny. I seem to remember that they use the juice with kids because it is less likely to be problematic with side effects. I've since witnessed many other children go through the same routine and it seems pretty safe.
P.S. Don't feel like a terrible mother. It is difficult to get 3 year olds to brush properly.

If I were in your shoes I would get a second opinion.
Good luck. I've been putting off taking my daughter to the dentist. She's now 15 months old.

I have been in the dental field for twelve years in the sacramento area and worked with two wonderful dental offices that work with children with out going under anesthesia. Please get another opinion, from Dina Wasileski, D.M.D. located on Kiefer Blvd. ###-###-#### she is very conservative and will work with you and you child, or from Dr. Cynthia Weideman's pediatric practice in Citrus Heights, ###-###-#### they are both wonderful dental offices and want what is best for your child. Advise the current dentist that you are seeking another opinion and would like to have your sons records available for these appointments.

When my son was 4 he had a few pretty big Cavities. We took him to a pediatric dentist to have them filled. They did not use anesthesia, instead they had a special chair equipped with a sort of jacket that wraps the child tightly, but comfortably. They did not allow us, the parents, in the room while he was being drilled. He was a little scared at first but had such stories about the tools used after it was over that he wasn't that upset when it was all done. and he is not affraid to see the dentist at all. This year, he is seven and had a few more cavities. He was able to get them filled by our regular dentist and had no problems at all. I felt like the worlds worst mother, that I some how was doing something wrong. But he brushes his teeth every day, and still he has the cavities. My younger son refuses to brush and it takes two of us to brush his teeth, yet he has no cavities, go figure. I would see if there are alternatives to the anesthesia. In my opinion, the less drugs the better. Good luck!!

I understand your concern. Although, my children haven't had that experience, I would get a second opinion. My friend was told by her daughter's pediatric dentist that her daughter at age three needed anesthesia for a procedure. She got a second opinion and found out that there was nothing wrong with her daughter's teeth. It terrified her to think that this dentist was wrong in his assessment. She filed a complaint against this dentist.

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