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Q I have a four-and-ahalf-year-old daugh­ter who is suf­fer­ing from tooth-re­lated is­sues but is ter­ri­fied of al­low­ing a den­tist to ex­am­ine her teeth. I have to tus­sle to even get her to brush her teeth. She has a cou­ple of cav­i­ties as well. What do I do?

AAt this age, it is im­por­tant to un­der­stand and ac­cept the fact that chil­dren are new to the ex­pe­ri­ence of vis­it­ing a den­tist and are gen­er­ally fear­ful.

It is im­por­tant you keep calm and in­cul­cate good oral hy­giene prac­tices in your child. You and your fam­ily should avoid speak­ing about fear­ful den­tal ex­pe­ri­ences. You’re the role model for your daugh­ter so prac­tise brush­ing and good oral hy­giene in front of her and en­cour­age her to do it with you.

Make your child brush her teeth with a special tooth­brush for chil­dren un­der five years and en­sure that she rinses her mouth af­ter ev­ery meal to avoid any de­cay.

It is ad­vis­able that your daugh­ter be seen by a pae­di­atric den­tist. They are equipped and trained to calm fear­ful and anx­ious chil­dren. In most cases, they will be able to carry out the treatment af­ter build­ing a friendly rap­port with the child. How­ever, in cer­tain cases where the child is very un­co­op­er­a­tive and re­quires ex­ten­sive treatment, new method­olo­gies such as se­da­tion den­tistry or sleep den­tistry are avail­able, which are very ef­fec­tive. They use ni­trous ox­ide gas or IV se­da­tion to calm and relax chil­dren, and in most cases put them to sleep dur­ing the pro­ce­dure. This is a fast, reli­able, safe and stress-free so­lu­tion to the is­sue your daugh­ter is fac­ing. In se­vere cases, gen­eral anaes­the­sia can also be used.

It is rec­om­mended that chil­dren visit a pae­di­atric den­tist ev­ery six months from their first birth­day. Rou­tine vis­its not only make your daugh­ter de­velop a friendly re­la­tion­ship with the den­tist but also start a life­time of good oral health.

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