What to Expect at a Treatment Appointment

Your child’s first filling, crown, or extraction appointment can be intimidating for both of you, but we’re here to tell you there’s nothing to worry about. We want to ensure you know exactly what to expect when your child has an appointment to treat a cavity. 

Typically, we recommend that your child have nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas. This is entirely safe for children, and we use it in small doses while constantly monitoring them throughout the appointment. One reason we choose nitrous oxide is to reduce your child’s anxiety during the treatment, but there’s another secret benefit: They are given the nitrous oxide through a nose piece that blocks their view of the tools and procedure, which can also help reduce their anxiety.

Once the nitrous oxide has been placed, we will give your child ten to twenty minutes to acclimate before the dentist or one of our highly-trained hygienists comes to provide them with the injection that will numb the area for the procedure. First, they will apply a topical anesthetic to begin numbing the area where they will place the injection. Next, they will perform the injection and wait another five to ten minutes before ensuring the area is appropriately numb.

At this point, the dentist will place a mouth prop, which is an item we use to hold the child’s mouth open so that they can relax without having to keep their mouth open themself. 

Depending on the type of treatment needed, the dentist might need to use an isolation technique after placing the mouth prop. This will isolate the tooth from the rest of the mouth to reduce saliva and other items getting into the area in question. It also allows the dentist to see the tooth more clearly and perform the treatment quickly. 

After placing the isolation device, the dentist will use their handpieces—drills, tools, etc.—to clean out the tooth decay. Once the decay has been cleared, the dentist will place a filling or crown, depending on the type of treatment needed. 

Now that the treatment is complete, your child will be given oxygen to help flush the nitrous oxide out of their system. They will stay on oxygen for a few minutes until they are acclimated and back at a normal oxygen level. 

Once the entire process is complete, your child will be given a prize, and they can relax. The dental assistant will provide aftercare instructions and answer any questions you have, giving you a cheat sheet to take care of your child once you leave the dental practice. 

Finally, we have a few tips to prepare for your child’s first treatment appointment:
Do not project your own adult dental fears onto your children.
If your child cooperates better when you’re not in the room, please feel free to stay in the waiting room.
Ask questions before the treatment starts.

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