How to Prepare Your Child for Fillings

On Sunday, December 5, 2010, Alison Johnson from the Associated Press published an article on how to prepare children for their first filling at the dentist. It included some very good tips from dentists:

1. Answer any Questions your Child may have – give your child honest details like where she’ll sit, the noises she’ll hear (“the toothbrush sounds like a loud whistle”), and how her mouth will feel strange and “sleepy” for a while after you leave.
2. Emphasize the Positive – explain how lucky you are to have such a wonderful dentist who can fix her teeth, this isn’t the time to blame her for poor brushing or eating habits.
3. Use NONSCARY words – you don’t need to say “shot,” “needle,” or “hurt.” Use child-friendly words to explain the visit to the dentist. For example, the dentist will first use “sleepy juice” to make your tooth fall to sleep, then the dentist will “clean out the sugar bugs in your tooth,” and then the dentist will “paint your tooth to make it feel better.”
4. Give your Child some Control – If she wants to wear certain clothes or bring an item to comfort herself, like a stuffed animal, let her pick it out and bring it with her.
5. Stay Calm!!! – If your child sees that you are uncertain, scared, or not trusting of the dentist, then so will the child. Try not to show that you’re nervous in front of your child, especially in the dentist’s waiting room.
6. Plan Something Fun Afterward – Go to the park, a friend’s house, set a play date, or go to another favorite spot after your appointment. You can also take your child out for a special food treat once the numbness of her mouth wears off.

We hope this is helpful information. If your child needs any more encouragement, our dentists and staff know lots of fun games and jokes to keep kids calm and comfortable.

Elizabeth Cook Miller, D.D.S., M.S. is a pediatric dentist at Atkins, Maestrello, Miller & Associates Pediatric Dentistry in Richmond, VA. She is a new mother, active runner and her favorite movie is "Finding Nemo".

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