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FAQ:  Pediatric - Children's Dentistry

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Dental fear in children: My 4 year old is going to need dental work on her front 4 teeth due to what I think is bottle decay. Two of them have recently broken off to the gum.

Can you tell me what is the best way to prepare her for a visit? As a child, I had the inside of my jaw cut so bad by an orthodontist that it required stitches, so I am scared but do not want to pass this fear on to her. ...Visitor from KY

It very good that you do not want to pass your fear about dental care on to your daughter.

Many good intentioned parents make the huge mistake of alarming and worrying their children about a dental visit even before they ever get to the office. They say things like, " you better brush your teeth well or you may get a cavity and have to go to the dentist!"

They may also talk about things like pain, needle, drill, hurt and such which would scare anybody. When this "fearful" child comes to the office, the dentist who you want to care for your child is at a disadvantage right off the bat.

A child's first few years going to the dentist can have lasting effects for the rest of their life. Good or bad effects. If they are treated by a caring dentist and dental team, in a pain-free, calm environment, they will have a very positive view of the dental office. As they get older it will be no problem going to the dentist for regular care.

Let your daughter know that you are taking her to a doctor who will look at her teeth. Do not scare her or say anything negative about the upcoming dental appointment. A children's dentist will examine your daughter and make suggestions about the proper treatment to help her. If she is very apprehensive the dentist can discuss various options to help calm her.

One of the worst things parents can do is to put their babies and toddlers to bed with a bottle of milk or juice that can decay their teeth very easily. No matter how much they fuss, they should only go to bed with a bottle of water, as this would not decay the teeth.

I also urge you to take her and any other children for regular dental visits at least 2 times a year. This way they will have positive experiences and any dental problems will be smaller and easier to take care of.

Editorial Staff

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