Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dentistry: Treasures from a Bad Experience.

For a couple of years now my daughter has been positive that she will be a dentist when she grows up.  I am on board with that. She has many talents so even when I suggest she might be an artist, or a musician, she assures me that "[she] will be a dentist who also likes to do art and play drums!" 

Today, I discovered that all things 'dentist' are good, except when Ashi is the patient.  She's been okay for cleanings, but today we had to get a cavity filled.

I was afraid her dream of becoming a dentist was sucked up with an aspirator and headed down the little round drain after our own rotten experience. I made the mistake of not opting for a full sedation.  Here are some Tips You Can Take, Tweak, or Toss! for your own dental patient.

1.  Find a pediatric dentist or  a pediatric dentist for special needs kids.  These professionals routinely offer full sedation for cleaning and procedures.  Do be sure to be educated about full sedation, because there are pros and cons to it.  It's a last resort for us.

2.  If your child can barely handle getting her teeth brushed, full sedation may be necessary for cleaning and will most likely be necessary for filling a cavity. I wouldn't even think of doing a root canal without it.

3. Follow your gut intuition. If full sedation is offered, and your pretty sure that's what your child needs, do it right the first time.  If you try using nitrous oxide / oral sedation and it doesn't work, you've got to coax your child back to the dentist for another visit after a not so successful one.
(Please, wish me luck with that!)

4. Kids with sensory issues can easily be traumatized.  Even though the dentist makes sure the working area is numb, sounds of tools and the fidgeting going on inside the mouth may still be beyond the child's sensorial capacity. This happened to us today. Thankfully, the procedure was stopped and rescheduled with full sedation.  This decision may not even be up to you.  If the dentist fears his tools may cause damage to your child's mouth because she cannot be restrained, he most likely will not continue. 

5. If your child is a researcher, learning all about the procedure he's having done can be comforting. Use the library, social stories, the internet. Most pediatric dentists even allow children to come just to check out the place - the waiting room, exam room, maybe sit in an exam chair. They get to go home having a happy experience.

6. Some pediatric dentists have their own vocabulary. They use a bunch of baby/cute words to describe procedures and tools: tooth tickler, sleepy juice, raincoat. It can be an insult to any intelligent 8 year old. Ashi was quite upset that she had to wear a 'spacemask' to get 'giggly air.' Clearly, her own research told her that it was an anaesthetic machine containing nitrous oxide, not a 'spacemask'.  Some dentists are shockingly adamant about this dumbed down vocabulary, so beware!

7. If your child enjoys dental check ups and really likes his dentist, ask if they have a list of good foods and snacks.  This is a great tool to use to attempt to get your picky eater to try a new food.

8. Bring along a stuffed animal or toy for fidgeting, it really helps to keep their hands busy while the dentist/hygienist is working.

9. Most pediatric dentists have a treasure chest where the kids get to pick out a treat or a toy, so, if your child picks out a ring with a giant, gaudy, green gem on it, just for you, wear it proudly!!

Long after the sobbing stopped and Ashi's mouth wasn't numb anymore, I cautiously asked  her, "So, do you still want to be a dentist?" She beamed and answered, "Of course I do!"  We prayed for the dentist to forgive Ashi for calling him "mean." Then tearfully I prayed for Ashi to forgive me for making such a bad decision. She agreed to give the dentist another try, with full sedation. Then Ashi pulled out a treasure that she picked out, just for me: a ring with a giant, gaudy, green gem on it!  Somehow, it's so beautiful; I don't think I'll ever take it off.

UPDATE!!!  Ashi did go back to the dentist, we did a full sedation.  The procedure took all afternoon but Ashi was happy when we got there and when we left.  Tired, but happy.  It was a good experience, expensive, but good.

Annie Eskeldson writes for parents of young autists.  She currently has 3 published children's books about autism that also nurture parents.  They can be found at


  1. Oh Ashi and Annie, the experience sounds just heart wrenching. I am so sorry. Obviously, in life we learn something everyday and so now the path for some of Ashi's dental work will involve sedation. I love the ring! How sweet of her to share her appreciate of your love and support by picking it out just for you, Annie.

  2. Thanks for the advise! I really honor this blog. My Chandler dentist liked your blog and we appreciate it so much!

  3. Hi there! Thank you so much for sharing this interesting and informative post! You have such a great idea about this. This could help me out if I'll apply it to my business. I'll be looking forward for your other posts as well. Pediatric Dentists promote the dental health of children as well as serve as educational resources for parents. It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that a dental visit should occur within six months after the presence of the first tooth or by a child’s first birthday. It is important to establish a Dental Home for a child. This is because early oral examination aids in the detection of the early stages of tooth decay. Early detection is essential to maintain oral health, modify aberrant habits, and treat as needed and as simply as possible. Additionally, parents are given a program of preventative home care (brushing/flossing/fluorides), a caries risk assessment, information on finger, thumb, and pacifier habits, advice on preventing injuries to the mouth and teeth of children, diet counseling, and information on growth and development. Dr. Herzog has been in practice since 1984, making patients comfortable and creating beautiful, natural smiles for a wide variety of people. Our patients often comment on how cared for they feel at every visit. In fact, they usually start smiling when they enter our warm and inviting office. Beverly MA, pediatric dentist

  4. Glad to hear you finally got thru the appointmeents needed.
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  6. That's the spirit. If I may share, I remember not being scared of dentists. I don't know why. My parents told me it's because they sent me to a Pediatric Dentist since my first tooth appeared, and my family is very close with our dentists in Austin. Anyway, I really like you blog, and truly you have adorable and talented kids. Looking forward to your future posts.

  7. Super fantastic article! Where can I find some reputable dentists in Austin?

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