I have an eleven year old son who has his first cavity. We’re getting it filled next week. However, he is super nervous about this and I’m worried about how cooperative he will be when it comes time for the needle. Is there anything I can do to make him less nervous about this?
The first thing I would do is not talk about it too much. If you act like it is no big deal, that will help signal to him that it is no big deal. Children can tell when we are nervous, which in turn makes them nervous.
Second, it is often helpful to allow him to bring something comforting to the appointment. Some children like stuffed animals; others like to bring music with headphones.
The next thing would be to make sure your pediatric dentist offers some type of dental sedation. For a child, usually just nitrous oxide is enough. It is administered by a nosepiece so there is nothing to fear. Then the dentist will release the nitrous and it will help your son to relax. Most children end up sleeping through their appointment when nitrous is used. Then, when the procedure is over, the dentist will switch the nitrous over to oxygen and your son will be as good as new in just a few moments.
This is especially useful for anxious patients because those nerves can have a negative effect on the numbing medication. As a result of the anxiety, the metabolism speeds up and burns off the numbing medication faster than normal. Those with severe anxiety find it difficult to get numb at all. Taking the simple precaution of nitrous oxide relaxes the patient enough that the medication can do its job with complete efficacy.
If your son’s dentist does not offer nitrous oxide, then it might be better to find one who does. You want a child’s dental experiences to be as pleasant as possible. Otherwise, they can develop an anxiety that keeps them away from the dentist in their adult years when they don’t have a parent looking out for their best interest.
This blog is brought to you by Hoffman Estates Dentist Dr. William Becker.