How we treat children
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Our foremost aim is for our young patients to be treated without fear or pain. In that way, we build up trust and prevent traumatisation as the result of negative impressions and experiences. This requires experience, patience and empathy.
At the same time, we try to make children feel positive about their treatment thanks to a child-friendly ambience. The kids can play in peace in the children’s waiting room. During treatment, we try to distract children from what is actually happening with age-appropriate toys and funny videos.
We also use special terms to explain to children what is going on without frightening them.
For example, a tooth does not get an "injection" but "sleep water" and goes to sleep; it is not a "drill" but a "tooth spray" that makes it clean and white, and so on.
We request that parents support us in this effort and do not talk at home about dentists in frightening terms.
To make sure that children are not disappointed in their trust, we need to make sure that their treatment is gentle and painless. For example, prior to the local anaesthetic, the paediatric dentist will apply a pleasantly tasting anaesthetic gel to the mucous membrane which allows a pain-free insertion of the needle.
Our experienced paediatric dentist is generally able to assess after the first appointment whether a child can be treated "normally" or has limited willingness to undergo treatment.
We offer special treatment methods for nervous or fearful children:
Treatment with laughing gas and sedatives
Treatment under general anaesthetic
The purpose of using these methods is twofold: it permits even particularly anxious children to be treated without stress. At the same time, it enables the children’s dentist to work more carefully on a sedated patient than on children who continuously wriggle and move, close their mouths and swallow.
Laughing gas - Magic air for young patients
Nitrous oxide was "discovered" more than 150 years ago by an American dentist and has since been used widely in medicine for sedation. Nowadays, laughing gas is regarded as the safest sedative in dentistry; dangerous events or complications can be practically ruled out with proper use.
The child is fitted with a small nasal mask and breathes a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen which can be adjusted by the paediatric dentist. The effect sets in after only a few breaths:
- The child is suffused with a warm feeling of well-being and security.
- What is happening with the treatment seems a long way away.
- Minor pain, such as the injection of local anaesthetic, no longer registers.
- Defence and swallowing reflexes are significantly reduced.
The child remains awake at all times, does not fall asleep during treatment, but experiences it in a positive light. At the end of the session, the patient is given pure oxygen for a few minutes to ensure that the nitrous oxide is fully eliminated and does not remain in the body. After only a few minutes, the child is fully "back to normal". That is a great advantage compared with other sedatives that continue to affect the patient for hours afterwards and that require particular precautions.
Laughing gas - not suitable for all children!
Unfortunately, some limitations apply regarding the use of nitrous oxide in children. Children need to have a certain maturity and rationality to ensure a successful treatment. In general, laughing gas is not suitable for children who
- are unable consciously to breathe through their nose for extended periods of time (from age 5-6),
- have no insight into the necessity of treatment or who may even reject treatment.
Treatment with sedatives
For younger anxious children not suitable for treatment with laughing gas, the use of sedation may make sense. These sedatives (e.g. Dormicum) can be administered as a suspension, a suppository or a nasal spray. The effect sets in after about 15 minutes. The child becomes sleepy and no longer registers stimuli from his/her surroundings. The disadvantage is that the effect of these sedatives continues for several hours beyond the actual treatment time and that children require close supervision by their parents during that time.
However, there are quite a few children who refuse dental treatment even after the administration of high doses of sedatives. The only alternative for these "total refuseniks” is treatment under general anaesthesia.
General anaesthesia - golden slumber
For very small and for particularly anxious children who do not yet understand the necessity of dental treatment, there is generally no alternative to treatment under general anaesthetic.
The Dental Team Lucerne has for years worked closely with experienced anaesthesiologists from narkose.ch. These specialists employ state-of-the-art and very safe anaesthetic procedures. Nausea after treatment, once a common feature of total anaesthesia, hardly occurs now; only a few minutes after treatment, the child is once again ”right as rain”. Under general anaesthetic, it is possible to treat an entire set of milk teeth in a single session, which may be an advantage for patients travelling from afar.
Chapter overview: Paediatric dentistry
- Overview: Paediatric dentistry
- Our paediatric dentist
- The first appointment
- How we treat children
- How we treat (milk) teeth
- Preventive dentistry for children
- Additional information on children's teeth
Download the complete illustrated text on paediatric dentistry:
Paediatric dentistry in Lucerne (PDF 2 MB, may take some time to download)