Friday, July 24, 2015

Dentist woes, and hope.

In 4/2014, I took BBZ, who was 5, to a popular and busy pediatric dentist office because one of his teeth looked broken. It turned out to be abscessed and needed to be pulled. He also had issues with his teeth in all 5 sections as they define them.  They created a treatment plan that included baby tooth root canals, silver crowns and fillings that would take 5 different visits.   (side note, why don’t doctors explain when a child should go to the dentist for the first time? I follow most recommendations, and the early dental visit was not on my radar, apparently)

This was our first experience with a dentist for one of our boys, so I took their word on basically everything. We did 3 of the 5 visits, and then he just couldn't do anymore. He fell apart during a visit and refused the treatment. I felt the dentist was not patient, and did not give him the respect to be involved in his care. Yes he is a child, but once I asked when he began to cry if she could give him a break, and she said that if she did he would learn that if he cried she would stop, and she didn’t want him to learn that. To me it felt as though she needed to stay on her schedule. They pressed me to have the final 2 areas of his mouth addressed, and finally talked me into doing general anesthesia to address the rest of the decay all at once. I researched it and contacted my insurance company, and determined that this would cost our family more than $1000.

Feeling apprehensive, I decided to wait. In the mean time, I took LBZ who was 2 for his first cleaning without x-rays and they found no cavities.  Then in 11/2014, when I took LBZ for his second visit, they did x-rays and found decay between the teeth and wrote a treatment plan for crowns and fillings, which would happen over 2 visits.  I made the appointments, then cancelled them out of fear of creating the same kind of dental fear my oldest experienced.

I went for the follow-up to LBZ’s visit and they were very pushy about treating the cavities. I held my ground, but they were clearly questioning my choices for my child, and adamant that I schedule the appointments to place the crowns and fill the cavities. It reminded me of the fear mongering that happened in the hospital when I was making my own choices about birthing them.  I made the appointments for the work again to avoid the issue, and then I canceled them.  Frustrated and hoping for another option, I asked around to some friends who recommended a small private dental office that had treated their child since he was small.

I went to that office with BBZ today, and brought the entire file, which included x-rays, treatment plans, behavior notes and all.  This new dentist did the cleaning herself, and they also did their own x-rays. She used a tool to check the teeth for cavities, rather than relying on the x-ray alone. She said that the cavity on the tooth that they hadn't treated yet did not change much since the original x-ray last year, so she wants to watch it and wait. She did not mention fluoride treatment, and said we could talk more about the recommended sealants as he gets more comfortable with her. The whole experience felt calm, and patient, and comfortable.

I do not think that the original office I went to was necessarily wrong, but they treated me as though their plan was the only option, and anything besides that was basically me neglecting the dental needs of my child. The other dentist was not a naturally-minded dentist necessarily, but she was a second opinion, and one that I feel much more comfortable with.

She also has a more laid back approach to meals and snacks. We have avoided juice and fruit snacks and candy since his first appointment over a year ago. When I told her this, she said that people are exposed to naturally occurring as well as processed sugar when they eat meals, so limiting the frequency of snacks in between meals can make a big difference in the longevity of the exposure.  That makes so much sense!  My boys are snackers, too.

I feel so much better about the state of their teeth.  Sure, they will both likely need some kind of treatment in the future, and I hope that she is patient with them when that is necessary.  I have a strong feeling that she will give them the time they need to feel comfortable, which is what personalized care looks like to me. Even if they don’t have fancy TVs in the lobby or cartoons on the ceiling.


  1. First, my old dentist(retired now) always said to bring the kids as babies when I went for cleanings so they could get used to the office. The office was in his converted garage and his wife worked as his assistant and a high school girl made appointments. The kids would walk around looking at things, getting a "ride" in the chair, getting their teeth counted, asking a million whats that questions. Fred and Val always wanted to make sure the kids weren't scared of the noises, equipment or of them. I hope you have found someone to care for the family like them.

  2. They won't see kids here until they're 3, but they can watch. Putting crowns on a 2 and 5 year old is torture. I hated it as an adult, and I eat around my crown as much as possible so it doesn't continue to fall out. I don't care how good the cement is, it's still going to get bitten too hard and fall out, in my experience anyway. If it were me, I'd let the 5 year old's teeth get pulled, not just filed down and a crown put on. Those other teeth will come in behind them soon enough. I'm sorry you went through this.

  3. I’m sorry to hear about the unfortunate experience the kids had with the dentist. If you’re aiming to find a new dentist, I hope things go well. Although it’s great to know that you’re feeling a lot better about the state of their teeth now. Thanks for sharing!

    Milton Wilson @ A Plus Family Dentistry

  4. It is very sad to know that your kids had to go through all that woes. A child’s visit to the dental office should be fun so that the child doesn’t develop dental phobias. It is really great to know that inspite of all the trouble you finally found a dentist with whom you are feeling comfortable. To get rid of all the dental anxieties, it is always better to find a family dentist who will provide your child with gentle and state of the art dental care. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  5. That's a relief, Anna. I'm happy that you've been able to find a better dentist. One of the things that is apparent there is how a good rapport means a world of difference. It's not enough for a dentist to be learned and skilled; he must also be very practical about it, and not just impose treatment on a kid. It is actual people we are dealing with here, bearing actual burdens.

    Brian Derrick @ Falls Park Dentistry

  6. I was told that as soon as their baby teeth come in it is time to take the kids to the dentist. It sounds like there were a lot of problems with your kid's teeth and they will need several visits. I hope you have a better time with your new dental office. It would be a shame if they grew up scared. Best of luck!

    Milan Keeton @ Irvinetustin Dental Implants