I have had the hardest time getting dental care for myself and my daughter. I have a horribly irrational fear of needles of any kind. The last time I was hospitalized they actually had to knock me out to treat me. It was humiliating. I was behaving like a petulant child and I knew it but my fear was too strong. Unfortunately, my daughter inherited the same trait. I need to find a solution to this because she has a cavity that needs to be filled and when we tried to do it, she slapped the dentist and ran away. I know exactly how she’s feeling but have no way of helping her. What do I do?
A Desperate Mom
Dear Desperate Mom,
It is hard when our children inherit traits from us which we wish didn’t exist, especially when we see them having a negative impact on our children. Fortunately, I have some good news for both you and your daughter.
What both of you need is to find a dentist used to dealing with this type of anxiety. Doing an internet search under two different terms should help you locate the dentist who has the tools to help you. The first is a “cater to cowards dentist“. The second is a “sedation dentist“. Both of them should offer some form of sedation.
I’d say in the case of you and your daughter, you want someone who has two levels available.
Two Types of Dental Sedation
Level One: Nitrous Oxide
This is the simplest level of sedation. Your dentist will place a nosepiece on your daughter and allow her to breathe in the nitrous oxide gas. The gas will make her feel floaty and relaxed, allowing her to get the local anesthetic she needs. Most children actually fall asleep during their procedure. Once her cavity is filled and ready to go, the dentist will switch the gas to oxygen and she’ll be back to her old self and ready to go.
An additional benefit to this is if she is asleep it becomes much easier for the dentist to give her a mercury-free composite filling. Those are a little harder to place on children because for it to bond properly the composite has to be kept completely dry during placement.
Level Two: Oral Conscious Sedation
This is a much stronger level of sedation. You will take a pill prior to your appointment. This pill is strong. You will be unable to drive yourself to or from your dental appointment. You’ll also need someone to stay with you after your appointment until you are lucid and steady on your feet.
This level also has an additional benefit. You will be so relaxed (and will probably nap) that your dentist can get a lot more work done at each appointment. This makes it faster for patients who’ve avoided the dentist for a while to get caught up on all their needed work in a stress-free and pain-free way.
Dental Anxiety and Children
Not all dentists who treat children use sedation. If you have trouble finding one, my suggestion for you will be to look for a general dentist who treats children. They don’t necessarily have to go to a pediatric specialist. Every general dentist did a pediatric rotation and is qualified to treat children. Just make sure they enjoy children and are good working with them first.
This blog is brought to you by Hoffman Estates dentist Dr. William Becker.