I have a difficult 5-year-old. I do brush her teeth, but she is a nightmare when I do it. Actually, she’s a bit of a Tasmanian devil. This is especially true in the dental chair where she refuses to cooperate any time they try to do work on her. She now has one molar with a cavity, two that the dentist is saying need to come out, and decay on several other teeth. What is your recommendation for something like this? I don’t know how to get the work done for her.

Patty

Dear Patty,

Young girl in a dental chair smiling

I can tell you are worried and want the best for your daughter. I do have a way for your daughter to get the dental care she needs with minimal fuss, but I am also going to suggest some tough love to help in the long run with her oral health care. The extensive amount of decay you are describing at her age is almost always a result of constant snacking and drinking.

Our saliva is a big help in the fight against decay. It contains minerals that help fight bacteria between meals. But, when we are snacking or drinking (with the exception of water) too often, it doesn’t give our saliva time to do its job. This leads to extensive decay, even when we have good oral hygiene.

I’m going to strongly recommend you don’t let your daughter eat between meals for a while. She won’t starve and it will help her be hungry for the nutritious meals you make rather than snack throughout the day and not get the value out of the healthy food you make. Juice and soda should also be limited because of the citric acid and sugar contained in both of them.

When you have a child who will not cooperate with their pediatric dentist but there is important work that needs to be done, you may have to use dental sedation. This is sometimes called sleep dentistry because even adults are so relaxed when they use this aid that they can sleep through their entire procedure.

What you don’t want to do is put off this treatment at all. Tooth infections are considered dental emergencies. This is because our jaws are close to our hearts, lungs, and brains. A dental infection can turn life-threatening quickly.

This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.