Fillings for Toddler Cavities

Updated on May 07, 2010
J.R. asks from Culver City, CA
8 answers

We took our 3 1/2 yo son to the dentist today, and they said they found one, possibly two, cavities that they said they need to fill. For this procedure, they want to sedate him with Valium and Vistaril. These meds are in pill and liquid form and will be crushed and mixed into a little bit of pudding. He would have to not eat anything for four hours prior to sedation and then the sedation will take one hour to take effect after administration. While the cavities are being filled, they want to wrap him in something called a papoose, which is basically like those swaddle blanket/straitjackets they have for babies to keep their arms down. All in all, from start to finish, the entire thing will take about two hours and he's probably going to be lethargic for the rest of the day. They've told me to expect that he will come out of the procedure crying.

My question is, is this the least invasive way to take care of these cavities? Would, for example, nitrous oxide be less time-consuming and unpleasant for him? Do pediatric dentists even administer laughing gas for little children? I'm considering getting a second opinion about how or even whether this needs to be done and would love recommendations for conservative pediatric dentists in the San Diego area.


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So What Happened?

Thanks, everyone. I took my son to another dentist for a second opinion. She told me she didn't see any cavities, so we are not having any fillings done. I figure, even if the first dentist is right and he has two cavities, the fact that the second one didn't see them means they're small enough that they don't need to be filled right away. If they have to be done, I'd rather wait until he's older.

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answers from San Francisco on

My grandaughter and grandson were both put out by gas to have their cavities filled. Both were around 2-3yrs.old. I was told a long time ago by a wonderful dentist that I had, whom I took my daughter to at the age of 5 and he would not fill her tooth. He informed me that by filling a baby tooth it can effect the second tooth coming in, which may have to be pulled as well. He put a screen on her front tooth just to be able to keep it until she lost it. My 2 grandchildren have already had to have work done on their 2nd teeth. If I were you I would definetly get another opinion. Good luck and see if they still have these screens available. It certainly worked with my daughter.

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answers from Dallas on

My pediatric dentist here in Dallas is on the board of Dentistry. He said never go to a Pediatric Denist that does their own sedation on children. He brings in a specialist - a trained anesthesiologist. He said there are too many risks and variables for children because of weight differences making such a huge difference on how much sedation they should use.

If your Dentist wants to sedate your child without a trained professional there administering the sedative - please find another dentist.

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answers from Chicago on

I'm in Chicago, so I can't help with referrals, but I'd get a 2nd opinion for sure. My daughter, who just turned 4 had to get 2 fillings. I take all 3 of my kids to my dentist, and I've gone to him for over 20 yrs. He did NOT sedate my daughter at all. He used a topical anesthetic and did a scrape/paint filling procedure. He avoided the drill completely. He said that these will hold up for at least the next few years. Because they are molars (though baby teeth), she may need a re-fill at a later date. He feels that sedatives and narcotics are unnecessarily dangerous for young children. He's NOT a pediatric dentist, but he treats the children of all of his patients. If I were you, I'd maybe call your own dentist if you've got a good relationship with him/her to see if you can get a 2nd opinion.

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answers from Savannah on

This is going to sound crazy, so just ignore it if you think its silly (totally okay!)

In my personal opinion I think our fixation on teeth as a country is insane. I have seen 1st and 2nd graders in braces!?... I think its a little silly. My husband and I are both from Ireland and while we do take care of our teeth and personal hygiene, the only way we would really get into all of that with kids as young as 3, 4 or... really anyone under 10 - would be if there was a serious medical problem or infection of the mouth.... of if the teeth and jaw were forming incorrectly to the point of discomfort.

If someone told me my 3 1/2 year old needed fillings, my first reaction would be, "What for? His teeth are going to fall out in like 4 years anyway."

Perhaps this is why I get strange looks from my American girl friends on topics like this one, but I do think its a bit silly.

HOWEVER - if its something you really are concerned about and something you intend on pursuing - I think you should be super careful about anesthetics in such a young child. I am inclined to agree the most with what Heather A. said!

But - best of luck to you, and I hope he does alright whatever you decide!

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answers from Houston on

i do agree with Liza - being from the UK also, we rarely if ever fill baby teeth unless they are painful or are damaging other teeth, they are usually just pulled out, or left alone - all that malarky sounds hateful for a baby to go through - it will stay with him for life

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answers from Tulsa on

No, Pediatric Dentist perform the proceedures under general anesthesia in the hospital. Think about the experience from your childs mind. They go to sleep and wake up without experiencing the shots, the drilling, the smell of cavities being ground down, the feeling of the drill, it is so much easier to just let them go to sleep and just get it done in a few minutes.

K had a broken tooth and 4 cavities and she was in less than 1 1/2 hours. She woke up took Tylenol then later Motrin, or vice versa, and was never cranky, never cried, nothing like that. She woke up and wanted to go outside to play.
Another thought, cavities get infected and the infection can go to the brain or to the heart in just a few hours and that is why I focus on keeping their kids teeth so healthy. Besides the fact that cavities hurt....

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answers from Topeka on

I hate it when people say they are just baby teeth and they will fall out!!!I have taken all 3 of my kids starting at the age of 1 my son who is now 6 has the worst teeth out of all 3 kids.He has 6 yes 6 crowns 2 have been pulled from abcesses an infection from the root of the teeth casued by the cavity.If I had them left alone or no dental care for him he would so worse off right now.They recommend that they get taken care of and filled or capped in protection of their overall health and well being.Yes it is traumatizing to sit there mouth opened needles the drill the smells people talking but when it's over it's not talked about he has come out crying last time he had his tooth pulled I was with him they didn't do nitrous my son flat out refuses he really was afraid of the nose piece that any other thing in the office after they put it away he was fine, they never did sedate him as I asked if they could they were able to calm him down long enough they did do a papoose the first time because of the reaction he was scared and wanted to take the insturments from the dr so fo safety reasons they did a restraint becasue what if he hurt himself I would of been very upset that they didn't offer a restraint.In regards to your child how was his visit to the dentist?If he was well behaved and tolerated the exam i'm surprised that they didn't opt to try the nitrous first.At the dentist we went to they didn't do sedation we would of had a referal.Ask the office if this is their policy and if it is you want to go see another dentist that doesn't offer sedation.Is this a pediatric dentist if not I highly recommend one.They don't use mercury fillings anymore they are the resin color tooth ones for children.I hope your child does well

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answers from Los Angeles on

my 5 year old just had to get 2 fillings today. I can't imagine putting your kid through what your dentist has said. For my daughter they just gave her nitrous oxide, then did the little shot to numb her mouth and that was it. They put a movie on for her and she was done and out with in an hour. My husband then took her to get a milk shake and she was eating solid food as soon as the numbness wore off. No big deal. I would go and get a 2nd opinion.

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