The W Family Chronicles

The dentist and other forms of torture.

Posted on: January 16, 2008

I am possibly the most negligent mom *ever* because J, at the age of 5, has never been to the dentist. I know this is bad. I know it’s way past time for him to be getting regular cleanings and all of that. I know this, and yet I haven’t taken him yet. That’s OK…take just a minute to think about how spectacularly bad this is…I’ll wait.

So, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way let me try to justify that by making some excuses and whining a little bit. First of all, I live in abject terror that something awful will happen to my mouth that necessitates a trip to the dentist. As a kid, I didn’t mind it. Never had a cavity, went every 6 months like clockwork (yes, I had a good mom) and got my cleaning like a good girl. Even braces weren’t awful. I made it through those years with no major issues other than the fact that I had a tooth that never appeared. I got a bridge to replace it and went on with life. Some of those things were unpleasant but it never bothered me too much. Once I was on my own and had my own dental insurance I switched dentists so that I could use the discounts I had available to me. That’s when things went downhill.

The new dentist recommended that I do something called “gum planing” which is really just a fancy word for torture of the mouth. And they redid my bridge which involved grinding down 2 teeth and placing a bridge over the 2 of them with a completely fake tooth in the middle. (Edited to add this link about bridges — my original was a Maryland bridge and the current one is a Traditional bridge.) It was absolutely terrible. This all happened right around the time I got married and I haven’t been back to a dentist since. I’ll celebrate my 7th anniversary in April. Yeah, it’s been that long. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but there you go.

So I have my own dentist issues, which I am undoubtedly projecting onto J in some form. And then there’s the issue of his Sensory Integration Disorder. A lot of his issues are oral and so that opens up it’s own set of problems. He has a lot of oral defensiveness and I’ve been hesitant to take him to the dentist for that reason. Not to mention the horror stories my friends have told about dentist trips with their kids. Tales of being kicked out of the exam room and hateful hygienists really make me hesitant to take him to someone without knowing a LOT about them. We move around so much that it’s been hard to get good recommendations. Of course I know that waiting this long may have made the situation worse, but again…projecting my own issues and blah blah blah.

Today I asked his OT (occupational therapist) if they knew of someone to recommend…I figure they are the best resource since they’ll know other kids with the same problems as J, right? I did get a couple of names and came home to check who is on the provider list for our dental insurance and make some calls. One of the names turned out to be the ONLY local provider on our “preferred” provider list. (Which, by the way, means nothing as cleanings and other preventive things are paid at 100% whether they’re “preferred” or not!) So I call them up, give a brief synopsis of J’s situation regarding his oral defensiveness and ask if they can be sensitive to this. No, they can’t. They won’t even see him. (If you’re in NC, this was Lane & Associates. They are apparently a huge practice with offices across the state. If your child has special needs, I strongly recommend looking elsewhere. They acted like I was asking them to treat an animal or something.) Now I’m worried. Am I going to have to drive to the Triangle to get somebody to see him? I give the dental insurance provider a call and they explain the “preferred” vs. “not preferred” stuff and I start looking at the “non preferred” list. Great…there’s the other name I was given, so I give them a call.

It turns out that this dentist has a child with special needs and there are several autistic children seen by the practice. J is not autistic but this shows me that they have a bit more experience dealing with sensitive children. The woman I spoke to said she would talk to the dentist to be sure that he’s willing to see us and handle J with extra sensitivity and give me a call back. I’m currently waiting for that call, but I have a good feeling about this…the response I got was completely different than the one I got at Lane. I’m keeping everything crossed that this dentist will work out because I figure if they can handle J and his issues, then they can handle me and mine. I’ve got to go to the dentist…my bridge could use some work, I want to see if I can get my bottom teeth straightened back out (orthodontist should have pulled a tooth b/c there’s not enough room for them all and they’ve gone back to being really, really crooked) and Lord knows I could use a good cleaning by this point. But for now, I’m focused on getting J the work he desperately needs and trying to make sure I haven’t somehow irreversibly damaged his teeth by not taking him to the dentist yet.

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2 Responses to "The dentist and other forms of torture."

I could have written most of that post. FWIW I don’t think you’re a bad mom. Of course I haven’t been to the dentist in 8 years.

Anne, that makes me feel better! I know I’ve messed up but at least I’m trying to fix it, right?

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W Family Players

D is the dad, the husband, and the breadwinner. All around nice guy and good at pretty much everything he does. It's disgusting, really. But makes him worth keeping around.

M is the mom, the wife, and the hopeless housekeeper. At least the kids' heads haven't fallen off yet. Beyond that, she sucks at the "stay at home" thing. Oh, and she's the blogger.

J is the big boy. Born October 11 2002, he is in kindergarten and loves it. Now 6 years old, and too smart for his own good. Talks a lot but extremely entertaining.

C is the little boy. Born June 26, 2006, he went through a lot in his first year but is doing just fine now. The only blond in the family, so his paternity is routinely questioned by rude strangers.

V is our baby girl. She is brand new and arrived in January 2009. So far everything is going well. We're thrilled to have added the final piece to our family puzzle. And yes, she WILL be the final piece!

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