Anxious or not, there are times when dental problems arise. "Most kids have pretty good teeth, but I still see a number of cavities," states Griesmer, who attributes dental problems in young children to baby bottle tooth decay—going to bed with the bottle.
If there is a problem, the dentist may be quick to address it. "I discuss it with the parents," he continues. "If it is a relatively small cavity, I fill it right away. If it is large, I give them several options: laughing gas and local anesthetic—with three- to five-year olds this works well—or general anesthesia where the child is asleep, but I only opt for this if there are multiple cavities."
"One time Christina had to have a tooth pulled," Claire recalls. "I told her we were going to have it 'wiggled out'—that was the term the dentist used. She went in and was a little nervous. Then a few minutes later I heard her shout 'I love you!' and I was totally shocked! The dentist had numbed the area and wiggled out the tooth before Christina realized what had happened. Before long, she came bounding through the door with a treasure box and her tooth inside of it."
Perhaps that is one of the perks of visiting the dentist—the treasures kids come away with. For Trey, it was a new toothbrush and a little toy. For the Copcsos twins, new toothbrushes and a few stickers. And for Lorraine and Claire, the perk came in knowing their children's dental health was off to a good start.
Claire, now employed by her pediatric dentist, has an even better understanding of why children should start visits early on: "It is the first step to teaching them to care for their teeth and the road to a beautiful smile for years to come!"