Tag Archives: general dentists who treat children

Planning For a Child’s Dental Care

I spent 10 years trying to get pregnant unsuccessfully. So, we applied for adoption. I just found out we’ve been approved and we’re flying to pick up our new son next week. So, now I’m in a mad dash of preparation for my new son. I can’t believe I can say my son. I want to do everything right. He’ll be 5 soon. What age should he start seeing a dentist? At what age should I switch him to a regular dentist?
What else should I know?

Laura A.

Dear Laura,

Boy smiling and holding a toothbrush
Dental Care for Children Should be All Smiles

The first thing I want you to do is to take a deep breath. This is a tremendous moment for you and I know you must feel thrilled and terrified simultaneously. I also don’t want you to get disappointed by unrealistic expectations.

I know you want to do everything perfectly, but like everyone else, you’re human. You’re going to make mistakes. You’ll make incredible sacrifices for your son, but you’ll also have selfish moments you’ll feel bad about the moment it’s done. Don’t beat yourself up about it too much. Just learn from it and move on.

As for what age he should see a pediatric dentist, I’d start him immediately, especially if he hasn’t been much in the past. Too many parents wait until there’s a dental problem and they need an emergency appointment. Then, the child’s first experience with the dentist is a negative one.

You can take him to a pediatric dentist or a general dentist who enjoys working with children. Both are qualified. Both have their pros and cons.

Pediatric Dentist or General Dentist?

A true pediatric dentist has done extra schooling and can handle certain more unusual issues that come up with children but not on adults very often. Additionally, their office is designed for children with little chairs and lots of colorful walls and toys. They usually go into the field because they love children and are great working with them.

A general dentist is still qualified to treat children, but have not had the additional schooling. That means there could be a tricky issue come up where they’d have to give you a referral to a specialist. However, that happens no matter what field someone is in. Many parents find it convenient for the entire family to go to the same practice. Though their office isn’t always designed with children in mind, if they enjoy treating children they will have things on hand for them.

When your son is with a general dentist, there won’t be any worries about having to switch dentists when he reaches a certain age. He’ll already be with a “grown-up” dentist.

I hope this helps and congratulations on being a mom.

Pediatric Dentist Strapped My Child Down

I am absolutely appalled. I took my daughter to the pediatric dentist for the first time. I got a little nervous when they didn’t let me back with her, but I didn’t want to make her worry so I pretended it was no big deal and she’d have a lot of fun. You can imagine how heartbroken I was when she told me that she got scared so they strapped her down. When they brought her out I could tell she’d been crying. I called, thinking I must have misunderstood her or she didn’t know how to explain what actually happened. They told me it’s standard procedure in dealing with an uncooperative child. Please tell me that’s not correct. She doesn’t ever want to go back.

Amy L.

Dear Amy,

Boy smiling and holding a toothbrush
Dental Care for Children Should be All Smiles

I’m heartbroken with you for the trauma your little girl experienced. I believe what you’re referring to is a papoose board. It wraps the child which essentially keeps them from moving during their appointment. It used to be a regular practice in many pediatric offices but has come under fire in recent years. Even the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has warned of its drawbacks and said parents have the right to terminate its use at any time.

While some children do better alone, many feel comforted knowing the mother is there to look out for them during their appointment. The goal of pediatric dental care is to give children a positive experience and get them excited about taking care of their teeth. I’d say your pediatric dentist totally failed at that.

Finding a Good Pediatric Dentist

You’ll obviously want to switch to a different practice. You can take your daughter to a pediatric specialist or a general dentist who enjoys treating children. One way to know how good a general dentist is with children is the age they’re willing to first see them. If they say around two years of age, you can feel pretty sure they’re comfortable with the wee set. If they say 8-10, then I’d look elsewhere.

Given your daughter’s experience, you’ll want a dentist who will let you go back with her. She’ll need to feel safe. You may also want to give her some nitrous oxide. It’s commonly called laughing gas and will help relax her. Wherever you end up, be sure to check their reviews ahead of time as well.

Please tell the new dentist what your daughter went through so they’ll be prepared to handle her understandable fear. We want to get her on the right track having positive experiences.

Most adults who end up with dental emergencies do so because they had a traumatic experience as a child and now avoid the dentist until their services become unavoidable.

For those patients, we recommend oral conscious sedation. It’s stronger than nitrous and will allow them to sleep through the appointment. That would be the last resort with a child, though. Let’s see if we can’t get her relaxed and happy without it.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Mike Malone.

No White Fillings for Children?

I’m not sure what to do. I noticed that you see children and you do white fillings. Do you give the white fillings to children? My pediatric dentist says that’s not possible. I don’t fancy the idea of putting mercury in my son’s mouth and he has his first cavity. We’re just watching it right now, but want to be prepared. If it were your son, what would you do?

Lori

Dear Lori,

Boy smiling and holding a toothbrush
Can Children Get White Fillings?

I’m very sorry about your son’s cavity. To answer your question, yes, children can get white fillings, but it’s not always easy. The biggest problem is they have to sit very still because the composite resin has to stay free of moisture during the placement process. But, it can be done. Usually, just some nitrous oxide is all that’s needed to keep a wiggly child still during their filling process. In fact, most of them sleep through the procedure.

It sounds like your pediatric dentist prefers to do things the way he’s always done them and isn’t that interested in keeping up with the advancements in dentistry. In your place, I’d find a new dentist, one who keeps up with the newer technologies and studies, especially when it regards putting a toxin in a child’s body.

Can General Dentists Treat Children?

Yes. Many general dentists love working with children. One way to know if they’re good with them is the age they first agree to see them. If they’ll see them in their toddler/preschool years, they love working with children. If they ask to wait until your child is about 8 or older, I’d look elsewhere.

Parents find it convenient for everyone to go to the same practice. You can book everyone’s appointments and get things done in one day. Plus, a dentist knowing the parent’s dental history knows what to look for in the children. It helps prevent issues that their parents may not have been able to avoid.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Mike Malone.