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Advocating for your Childs Dental Health

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My son is 5 now.  We have religiously gone to our family dentist every six months since he was 1. Never missed an appt.  Although he was not always great about letting them do a full cleaning on his teeth, he ALWAYS let them “count” them (aka: look at them and poke at them) and brush and floss them.  For the first 4 years of this boys life he loved his toothbrush and brushed like 10x a day.  In the last year though he has fought the hygiene aspect and if I can get him to brush his teeth it happens about 4-5 times a week.  It is a boy phase and I know he will come out of it but as a parent it is my job to advocate for my Childs’ dental health.

Advocating for your childs dental health, Dental health advice,

Let me tell you a story about our horrific dental experience. We went in early July for our 6 month cleaning and my son had a full cleaning.  At that point the dentist and hygienist noticed two cavities.  One happened in a molar he had chipped a couple weeks earlier and the other was on the edge of another molar.  We were referred to a pediatric dentist to do the work as our family dentist does not do fillings and such on anyone under 12.  I called and no one returned my CALLS; this was obviously not the right choice for us.

We waited about 3 weeks (to get through grad school and my sisters wedding) and when I came back I made an appointment with one of the local pediatric dentists that about 40 people had recommended on a Facebook group.  We walked in, the assistant came out greeted us and took my son back for his first x-rays.  She returned him and then about 3 minutes later came out to get him for the exam. When I got up to go back she told me just to wait there.  About 10 minutes later they called me back and I walked into the exam area with my son playing a Nintendo DS, the dentist sitting there with the x-rays and instead of a nice “Hi, I am Dr. __”, I got a “Hi, we need to talk”.  She proceeded to talk to me like I was a child and tell me that my son has severe decay in his teeth and basically tell me that we have not been taking care of him.  I was getting a lecture and this lady hadn’t even asked me about our dental history or introduced herself.

Had she asked, she would have easily found out that my family genetically has very little enamel on our teeth, that my teeth have literally broken from getting too cold eating ice cream and that is all too common in my family.  She would have also learned that my son has been to the dentist regularly and takes decent care of his teeth.

Instead she focused on the fact that he has several cavities and then she lied to me about his behavior. Her assistant told me he was the best patient and she refuted that.  We were the only people in the office, I could hear my son talking back there and listening well.  I was very put off by this, felt belittled and was in awe that several of my close friends and others on Facebook truly valued this person.

The best part however is that she wanted to SILVER CROWN all of my sons molars and she “does this regularly” she would meet us at Children’s Hospital and we would pay her fees and then the hospital fees and then he would be good to go until he was 12 or 13.  Then she walked us out and said “you can make an appointment now or discuss this with your child’s father, we will start submitting our claim to your insurance”.  Cool, right, so money was something you just needed to tell me about after you made me feel like a terrible parent and assumed that I was not married.  She also made an assumption that we could not afford the dental care during that conversation.  Odd, assumption to make.

Advocating for your childs dental health, Dental health advice,
This is what my son was wearing when we went to the office that day…Man we just clearly look like we cant afford dental care right?

I am sure she has her side of this story, I am sure that we were one of the last appointments on a Friday afternoon and she had dealt with some crazy kids that week, I am sure that she didn’t mean to come off so cold and rude…but she did.

I called my mom bawling, she told me to get a second opinion.  I went home and made several more appointments.  Every other office was much more welcoming, allowed me back into the exam, and had a MUCH different treatment plan for my son.  Yes he will need a few tooth colored crowns and he does need a couple fillings but his teeth are not decayed terribly and I learned a lot from this experience.

Advocating for your childs dental health, Dental health advice,

1. Go to a Specialist:  Our family dentist did not do x-rays and that is why we missed these cavities forming in between his teeth.  Pediatric dentists are specialists and deal with kids, their behavior and are set up to make kids feel comfortable while they are getting x-rays and cleanings.  This entire situation has made me change everyone in our family to a different dental office.

2. ADVOCATE:  I could have just been bullied into setting up some invasive procedure on my sons mouth.  Instead I became empowered and a made sure that EVERY pediatric dentist we had a consultation with from there on out, knew our family history, his dental history and my previous experience. I am my child’s only voice.

3.  If you are uncomfortable, chances are so is your child:  When we left the first office, my son told me he didn’t like that place.  Odd, I had yet to make mention of my frustration or start crying in front of him.

4. Money as a driving force = NO:  Every single office we went to, this discussion was handled between the office manager and myself.  The dentist would make mention of tooth colored crowns being more expensive but NONE of them dealt with the money component.  They all were more concerned about my child, entertaining him, making him laugh and keeping him comfortable…the first dentist was more concerned about cost…HUGE RED FLAG.

5. Get a Second Opinion (or third, or fourth): When it comes to your child and having procedures done on your child that may include general anesthesia, if you are not 100% completely comfortable with the prognosis, get a second opinion.  In our case we had 3 “second” opinions.  Those three were all in agreement on the treatment plan, so we chose the office that best fit our families needs.

Have you been through this?  Would you add anymore tips of advice?


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