My kid is freaking out… will a pediatric dentist help?

We typically see family dentist, but I’m wondering about a pediatric dentist for my daughter. She’s always had some anxiety about trips to the dentist, but for the most part has done ok with regular check-ups and cleanings. At her last appointment, they found a cavity, and when they told her, she literally freaked out – complete with screaming, bawling and jumping out of the chair. It was pretty embarrassing, but after she settled down, the dentist tried to do the filling right then. Needless to say, it did not go well at all and we couldn’t even get her numbed up. They mentioned sedation, but I don’t know much about it for kids. She’s refusing to go back, so I really don’t know what do from here. Would a pediatric dentist be better? She’s eight, but we always talk about what a big girl she is, so I’m afraid he will say she’s not a baby.  — Marissa


Pediatric dentists are great for kiddos your daughter’s age. They know all the tricks to keep kids relaxed and engaged – and even distracted from what is actually happening while they are in the chair. It’s just what they do – day in and day out. They will get her talking about all sorts of things she loves, and she’ll probably forget why she’s there. That’s not saying that family dentists aren’t great, too, but often their main patient base is adults and they forget that kids sometimes need extra attention and patience.

Pediatric offices sometimes have toys and video games in the waiting room and will even let kids drag a toy back to the exam room if it makes them feel more comfortable. Once back there, they take the time to get to know them, explain what all the tools and instruments are and really focus on gaining the child’s trust.

You’re the best advocate for your daughter. Try a pediatric dentist and just see how she does. If all goes well, sedation may not even be necessary – just a little nitrous to do the trick. Keep it as an option if needed, but don’t be surprised if she does much better with someone who specializes in kids.