How to Prepare for Your Child’s First Filling
If you are preparing your child for his or her first filling, it is very important to be calm and positive. Use positive words to explain basic information, for example ‘The dentist is going to clean up your tooth and make sure it is nice and strong’. Don’t imply that the treatment is any form of punishment due to eating too much candy or not brushing well enough. Be careful not to impart your own anxieties about the dentist, and consider having the parent who is the most comfortable with dental procedures accompany the child to their appointment. If the affected tooth is a baby tooth that is close to falling out, a filling may not even be needed.
Does it Hurt to Get a Filling?
As with all dental procedures, your family dentist will do his or her best to make your child feel comfortable when getting a filling. There may be a pinching sensation when the local anaesthetic is administered, but your dentist will make sure that the anaesthetic has taken effect before the procedure begins. Your child should not feel any pain during the process and when the anaesthetic wears off the filled tooth should feel normal with no recovery period or pain. Your dentist may ask you not to give any food or drink to your child immediately after the filling is completed. It may also be more difficult for your child to chew or smile when an area of the mouth is still “frozen” by anaesthetic. If your child is worried about the dental procedure, speak to your dentist ahead of time.
What Type of Filling is Best for Children?
Dental amalgam (silver) fillings are still the most common type of filling used in Canada. There are benefits and disadvantages of both silver and tooth coloured (composite) fillings that can be considered when choosing the type of filling for your child.
Silver Fillings for Kids:
- Silver fillings are made of a mixture of metals and are the least expensive type of filling.
- They are strong, long lasting, and can withstand more wear and tear from chewing and grinding.
- The silver colour may not be as appealing.
- There have been concerns in the past about very small amounts of mercury getting released from the fillings over time (but studies have shown that this low level of mercury is considered safe).
Tooth Coloured Fillings for Kids:
- These fillings look just like natural teeth, which may make your child feel better about the procedure.
- Tooth coloured fillings are made from a composite material that is not as strong as metal so these fillings don’t last as long on chewing surfaces
- If the filling is damaged from long term wear, bacteria can get in and the filling will need to be cleaned up and repaired.
- These fillings can get stained over time and look slightly different than the surrounding teeth.
- Tooth coloured fillings are more expensive than silver fillings.
How to Prevent Cavities in Children
Young children should be supervised or assisted in brushing their teeth. A small pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste can be used, but parents need to monitor to ensure that teeth are brushed thoroughly and that toothpaste is not swallowed. The toothbrush should be soft with rounded bristles and should be replaced every 3 – 4 months.
It is best if children get in the habit of brushing their teeth before bed as early as possible since sleeping with sugars in the mouth increases the chance of tooth decay. The Canadian Dental Association recommends that children visit the dentist every six months for regular check ups and to help establish a good oral care routine.