Getting a cavity as a kid can be scary.
Let’s be real. No one enjoys getting a cavity filled. It’s uncomfortable, not to mention expensive. When you add in a pandemic that comes with new procedures and health concerns, it can be even more challenging. Not only is there the fear of the unknown for your child, but you may have your own concerns when it comes to their health and safety. Is it OK to take them to a dentist during a global health crisis?
The answer to that question is very personal, but you can look to health experts before you make your decision. I wanted to share our experience with getting my son’s first cavity filled, so you can see how we made our decision, as well as give you some insight on what to expect.
I hope you’ll find it helpful, but please remember I am not an expert.
Dental Health Background
Starting around 18 months, I started taking my children to the dentist. Even though they didn’t have all their teeth, it’s important to get them used to getting appointments. Most dentists, like the pediatric one we first saw, offer free first visits.
Since then, we go every 6 months, and we moved to a family practice. I like having us all at the same place, and we all see the same dentist. Even though they are specifically a “pediatric” dental practice, they are terrific with kids. I have always felt very comfortable with bringing the boys there.
The boys get flouride treatments and update X-rays when needed. Our dentist is great about making them feel comfortable, and they don’t really mind the appointments. Plus, they always love picking out a treasure from the box at the end.
Then it happened.
At our last appointment in January, we experienced a first: The dreaded cavity!
Mr. B had the start of a few cavities, but the dentist felt we could wait a year. As long as he kept brushing and flossing and didn’t get bigger, they would be OK since they were just in baby teeth. They found 2 big cavities in Mr. C. The were on each bottom side in between back baby teeth. Since they were close to a nerve and a good size, they must be filled. Surprisingly, Mr. P had none!
I felt horrible. We were good about brushing, but not about flossing. I felt like a total failure for not enforcing good habits. As a child, I never had any cavities, so I guess that’s why I’ve never paid that much attention to the kids. This exam was a huge wake up call.
Then, Everything Shut Down.
Mr. C’s first filling was scheduled for March. Instead, everything closed. Covid had reached Wisconsin, and we were on lockdown. Schools, stores, and everything not considered “essential” was closed until further notice.
Of course, I was concerned about Mr. C’s cavities, but our dentist assured us that they would be OK until they were able to reopen safely. If he experienced any pain, we were to call for an emergency appointment.
Mr. C was pretty happy about this development. He was not looking forward to getting his cavity filled.
Cut to June 2020.
So, when the dentist reopened, he had a bit of a meltdown. Instead of having the date of the appointment looming over us, or rather him, we decided I would just “surprise” him the morning of. It was a decision we made together.
I scheduled his appointment for first thing in the morning. That day, I gently told him it was time, and we had some tears. Then, he calmed down, and with a promise of a treat, we were good to go. My husband stayed home from work to watch the other two, as we still haven’t had grandparents babysit yet.
Here we go.
While the virus hasn’t gone anywhere, and in fact, cases are increasing, things have opened back up in Wisconsin. Most businesses have been responsible and have taken extra safety precautions. Our dentist, sent detailed emails with their new policies and procedures. We go to a family practice, not a pediatric office.
In addition to a 24 hour prior health screening (travel, symptoms, etc.) here is how our dentist is operating:
- Upon arrival, wait in your car.
- Call the front desk, and they will check you in. They will then call you back as soon as they are ready.
- After getting the call, head to the office. Only the patient may go in, unless it is a minor. One adult may accompany their child.
- A mask must be worn. If you don’t have one, you can purchase one inside.
- All toys, magazines, and just about everything have been removed from the waiting room.
- Instead, there is a table with hand sanitizer, which you use as soon as you arrive. The hygienist meets you there and takes your temperature.
- You go back to the room, where everything has been sanitized. The hygienist wears both a mask and shield, the patient can remove theirs when they get to the chair, and if there is an adult (me!) they keep their mask on the whole time, while staying in the same room.
The Actual Cavity Part
I felt very comfortable with the safety procedures, however, I was a bit worried about how Mr. C would react to getting his cavity filled. He is not the best with vaccines, so I was hoping he wouldn’t freak out when they got him numbed up for the procedure. They did offer sedation, but I didn’t want to go that route.
Well, I really didn’t need to worry. Both the hygienist and dentist were fantastic.
First, the hygienist explained everything that was going to happen in terms that my 8-year-old could understand. She made it seem easy and not at all scary. She showed him every piece of equipment and how it worked. Then, she gave him some cool sunglasses, turned on the cartoons, and applied the numbing cream to his gums.
The dentist then came in and talked with him some more. She was so sweet and kind. She made it seem very easy, and told him how she was just going to get rid of the “sugar bugs.” She then numbed him the rest of the way. Luckily, the tool she used did not look like the giant needle I remembered! It must have been retractable. Gotta love technology!
He Rocked It!
Mr. C sat quietly watching Teen Titans Go while they waited for his mouth to be completely numb. The Dentist talked to him through the whole procedure, making sure he was OK and not in any pain. They made sure to take breaks, and the whole visit was complete in less than an hour.
She took care of the two cavities on the one side of his mouth, and we made an appointment to complete the other side.
He also got a coupon for a free milkshake from Culver’s, which I think made the next appointment a little more bearable.
Overall, he did a great job. No crying or complaining. He was a little sore afterwards, mostly from holding his mouth open, so I gave him an ice pack followed by a popsicle. That did the trick!
I hope our experience has been helpful if you have a little one that needs some dental work. Feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.