Your child needs to have good experiences at the dentist when he or she is young so that anxiety isn’t carried into adulthood. Between 9 and 20 percent of adults avoid the dentist because of a dental phobia. Dental phobia is a problem since an individual may shirk preventative care and let problems fester.
While dental phobia has several causes, the fear of pain is a big factor. When children have cavities, they often fear the pain of shots — or injections of anesthesia. Even though injections are quick, this brief pain can make your child hesitant to visit the dentist in the future.
If your child has a mild cavity, instead of having it filled or extracted, you may want to opt for a shot-free route: the Hall technique.
What Is the Hall Technique?
The Hall technique was created by Scottish dentist Dr. Norna Hall. Instead of preparing the enamel and filling a cavity, the Hall technique is a simple procedure where a stainless-steel crown is placed over the infected tooth.
This crown protects the tooth from further infection since bacteria will no longer have access to oxygen and sugars. As long as no dental abscesses develop or pulp tissues become inflamed, the tooth will be protected.
Many children are good candidates for this technique. Your child will not need a shot for this procedure, and he or she won’t need to listen to a dental drill since the tooth doesn’t need to be prepared. If your child is already showing signs of dental phobia, then the Hall technique is an ideal route since it isn’t invasive or painful.
In fact, some teeth are better off if they are not prepped with a drill for fillings. This action can sometimes cause an inflammatory response or irritate the nerve. The goal is to keep the baby teeth healthy enough that they fall out naturally, so if that can be done without a filling, the Hall technique is a great option.
How Does the Procedure Work?
Before the dentist fits the crown to the tooth, they will make sure that your child has adequate space around the infected tooth. The crown is slightly larger than your child’s natural tooth, so the dentist may need to place orthodontic spacers beforehand to give the prostheses room to fit.
Once enough space exists for the crown, the dentist will fit the crown over the tooth to make sure it feels comfortable. If the crown fits well, then the dentist will then cement it in place over the baby tooth.
The dentist will then have your child bite down to make sure the crown sets properly. The good news is that once the crown is firmly cemented, it never has to be removed. When your child loses his or her baby tooth, the crown will naturally fall out too.
How Do We Avoid Cavities in the Future?
While the Hall technique can ease your child’s dental phobia, you and your child should try to avoid cavities altogether.
Young children can develop cavities even with good oral hygiene. They have a hard time reaching their back teeth and brushing properly since their fine motor skills are still developing. To give your child the best chance of avoiding cavities, ask your dentist about dental sealants.
Dental sealants are light coatings of resin that are placed over your child’s teeth. Like the Hall technique’s crown, the sealant will create a barrier so bacteria cannot break down the enamel.
The placement of dental sealants is completely painless and quick, making it an ideal procedure to eliminate dental phobia. During this procedure, the dentist will first clean your child’s teeth of plaque. He or she will then place an abrasive solution, so the sealants will adhere better to the teeth. He or she will then place the sealants and use a curing light to set them.
Contact Kenneth M. Schweizer, DDS, PA, for more information on making your child’s dental visit as painless as possible. We are committed to our patients and want you to have a great experience with your dental care.