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The Dos and Don’ts of Preparing a Teenager for a Root Canal

Advanced dental treatments like root canals strike fear in many adults. For teens, they can be especially frightening. So many myths about root canals continue to be spread, but the truth is that root canal treatments are often mild and gentle. Preparing your teens can empower them to have a positive experience. Follow these dos and don’ts to best prepare your teens.

Do Talk About What Happens in Treatment

With the internet, teens have all the information they need at their fingertips at any given moment. However, they may not be motivated to learn about root canal treatments prior to their appointment. Make sure they’re prepared for what will happen by discussing the details of treatment and encouraging them to also talk to their dentist about it.

Sharing your own experiences with root canals can be helpful as well. Your teens will be more likely to listen to what you have to say on the topic if you first hear their thoughts and feelings about it. Help your teens let their guard down and open up about it by asking some of the following open-ended questions.

  • How do you feel about getting a root canal?
  • What have your friends told you about their experiences with root canals?
  • Why do you think that root canal treatment is the best way to go?
  • How do you think the situation could have been prevented?
  • What do you think are the greatest benefits of this treatment?
  • What do you think will happen after treatment?
  • What are your greatest fears about the root canal treatment?
  • What can be done to make this easier for you?

Depending on how your teens answer the questions, you may also ask follow-up questions. This can help them continue to discuss thoughts, feelings and fears about treatment.

Don’t Try to Sugarcoat Things

Although root canals are typically easy treatments, different people may react differently to anything from the local anesthesia to the aftercare. Never make promises about dental treatments that are beyond your control. You may reassure your teens that the procedures are common and that millions of people receive them each year. Just don’t sugarcoat the facts about treatment.

Let your teens know the good and the bad. Talk about the step-by-step details. Let them know how many others have positive experiences with root canals. The good news is that the odds are ever in their favor for an easy treatment. The American Association of Endodontists over 15 million root canals are performed every year. The facts can be reassuring, so there’s no need to resort to sugarcoating the situation for your teens.

Do Feed Your Teens Prior to the Procedure

Your teen may not be able to eat solid foods for several hours after the procedure. The numbing agent may take some time to wear off. In some situations, soft foods are recommended for a few days after the procedure. In any case, it’s good to prepare your teens for the procedure by helping them relax and enjoy a great, nutritious meal.

You may even want to make their favorite meal prior to the root canal. Eating a great meal can also provide comfort if they are nervous. Going into treatment during an overall positive day can help teens feel even more ready for the treatment. Just be sure to remind your teens to brush and floss after the meal.

Do Focus on Preventative Dental Care Moving Forward

While it’s probably best to avoid scolding your teens for lapses in their dental hygiene, you may also talk about why they are in this situation. Root canals are typically necessary to salvage a tooth because of advanced dental decay. That often happens when one neglects to brush their teeth on a regular basis and otherwise neglects basic dental care hygiene.

Use the need for a root canal as a teachable moment. Although teens may be tempted to neglect their dental health, they need to heed advice from childhood about proper dental care habits. Remind your teens that they should be brushing at least twice every day without making excuses to themselves for avoiding it.

You may also want to ask your teenagers about their thoughts on flossing and swishing with mouthwash. Both things can help prevent tooth decay and, subsequently, root canals.

Finally, let your teens lead the way when it comes to root canal preparation. Some teenagers will seem ready for the treatment to be completed. Others may be frightened and try to put it off even when facing toothaches. Meet them where they’re at and address their individual needs.

If your teen needs a root canal, Dr. Jerry F. Maymi & Associates have a dental care team that cares and will go the extra mile. In fact, we take pride in giving all patients the five-star treatment and will do the same for your teen.