So your child needs a filling – here are some simple guidelines and answers to questions.
What do you use to fill the tooth?
We use a tooth coloured material to restore decayed adult and baby teeth. For baby teeth this particular material may last a few years, but hopefully until the tooth is naturally lost. This depends on the child’s age, which tooth, and how large the cavity is. Larger cavities may be harder to retain a filling for as long, and may be better treated with a stainless steel crown or cap. These steel crowns are done usually by a specialist children’s dentist.
Is there an alternative to filling?
The back baby teeth may need to be around somewhere between the ages of 10 and 12. If the teeth aren’t treated early, it is more likely to end in pain, and possibly extraction. This can be traumatic for the child, and result in poorly positioned adult teeth. There could be a need for future orthodontic braces to correct this. Traumatic procedures inevitably lead to life long memories, and adult oral neglect. Older adults pay a huge price emotionally, and financially, due to poor childhood dental experiences.
The loss of the lower adult 6 yr old molar has been a common outcome from deep undetected decay in children, and leads to significant drift and development problems in adults such as:
- poor occlusion leading to chewing problems, headaches and jaw disfunction
- tilted teeth leading to food packing, higher decay
Prior to your child’s visit
We would like to make your child’s filling appointment as relaxed and comfortable as possible. Many apprehensions start in a child before they even get to the dentist. Well meaning grandparents or friends may show or discuss their fears in front of children. Try to avoid this or the use of emotive terms such as ‘be brave at the dentist’ or ‘it won’t hurt’.
Our Oral Health Therapist has specialised training and a passion for working with kids that may be anxious to help them overcome any fears. She has worked with children’s specialist dentists and gained a wide range of experience to put your mind at ease.
Make light of the appointment. ‘The dentist needs to make sure there are no germs on your tooth. They will clean the germs away and fix your tooth.”
Little more detail is needed for most children. If your child asks specific details, just reassure them that the dentist will look after them and perhaps they should ask the dentist if still concerned.
Generally children, especially younger age groups, are better during morning appointments. To minimise distractions and potential problems it is always better to schedule a single appointment without siblings present. If there is another family member having treatment on the same day, make the child fully aware that they will be seen first. Seeing mum or dad getting treatment first will not benefit the child’s experience
At the appointment
We would aim to be on time for all our patients here , but this is especially so for children. We have children’s books and toys on the chance that we are running behind.
We usually request parents be in the room for treatment, but it is ideal to try and remain as a detached observer. Acting as if there is no concern gives your child reassurance. Bring a magazine into the treatment room and let the staff and dentist interact with your child. They will respond better when communicating directly with the dentist, rather than through the parents as an interpreter.
Most fillings require an injection of local anaesthetic before starting. Studies have shown that baby teeth have the same nerve pain as adult teeth. Our goal is completely your child’s comfort.
Prior to an injection, a topical anaesthetic paste will be used to numb the gum near the tooth. Several applications may be given to give the child confidence. This is the most important time to show the child a sense of calm. Do not mention to your child the word ’needle’. Most children do not even now they have had one until afterwards. This is entirely due to careful planning. A nervous parent or previous bad experience can make this much more unlikely.
The filling should then proceed without incident.
A regular check of the restored tooth, with occasional X-Ray examination, is essential. Further deep decay, trauma, or a cracked filling may allow bacteria to re-enter the the tooth. This may require the tooth to be re-treated or even extracted.
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