Never Fear, the Dentist Is Here
Barry Jacobsen, DMD, is the Redman family dentist. "We always start with behavior management [but] if child is not manageable, we use sedation," he says. In fact, he sedates Kyle and Kellman at times to make the procedures go more quickly and smoothly.
According to the study, many dentists are still wary of using anesthesia with young children, but certain pain management techniques can be safe -- and useful.
"A child's biggest anxiety is usually fear of the unknown," says Jay Levy, DDS, a dentist in New York, who sees a fair share of young patients.
"The way that we deal with that anxiety is to bring the child into the office when another child is being treated to show them what it is like and what goes on," he says. Called the modelling technique, this method often pairs a timid child with a cooperative child of similar age.
Levy also uses the "tell-show-do" method. This technique involves naming a dental instrument, demonstrating the instrument by using it to count on a child's fingers, then using the device.
"These tend to work quite well," he tells WebMD.
Moreover, these days, children are less likely to have cavities than older children. This cuts down on painful procedures. In fact, half of school-aged children never have a cavity because of fluoridated water supplies, which helps fight tooth decay.
"Children should see a dentist every six months for a lot of reasons, such as to see how their bite is developing and to check for cavities and gum disease," he says.
"An undiagnosed cavity in a child's tooth may have a permanent effect on adult teeth," Levy says.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry agrees. They say most children should have a dental check-up at least twice a year. Some children may need more frequent visits because of increased risk of tooth decay, unusual growth patterns, or poor oral hygiene.