Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Today we met a real, live tooth fairy

By Louise Kinross

I wanted to share a quick personal story.

My son was seen in dentistry for years at Holland Bloorview and SickKids. He has some problems with his teeth related to his syndrome and has had work done in the office and under general anesthetic. We always had good experiences. 

Then we were transitioned to an adult clinic and every visit became torture.

My son has an unusually small mouth. He can't open it wide and it's difficult to get under his lips to clean his teeth. His teeth are also highly sensitive.

My husband came back from a couple of visits to the adult clinic shell shocked. There was nothing to distract my son during a cleaning. My husband was asked to physically hold my son's arms down while the dentist cleaned his teeth. My son would comply for a few minutes, then begin resisting. My son always left these visits complaining of mouth pain, no doubt because a sharp instrument had struck his gums at some point during these tousles.

I finally attended a visit, and I left shaking. The approach seemed to be that my son's teeth would be cleaned, no matter how upset he was. The more upset my son was, the more forcefully we needed to restrain him. I asked if he could be sedated, but the dentist said he didn't believe in that. The dentist was a very kind person, but this approach didn't work for us.

Recently I reached out to the head of Holland Bloorview's dentistry to ask if he could recommend someone else. He suggested a pediatric dentist he'd trained. She sees many children with disabilities.

I called and explained how challenging it was to have my son's teeth cleaned. The receptionist told me the dentist would look at his teeth, but if he was anxious, they would gradually expose him, over multiple visits, to different steps of the cleaning.  

Today was his first visit. A dental hygienist called my son in. He got in her chair and she reclined it so he could watch a show on the TV mounted on the ceiling.

She began slowly, just looking at his teeth with her mirror. Then, for 45 minutes, she scraped, flossed, polished with one of those ticklish electric brushes, and then painted fluoride on. A couple of times my son asked if she could stop. She did. But then we'd convince him to keep going. He wasn't happy, but he could handle it. He even enjoyed wearing the sunglasses. At no time was my son restrained.

After that, my son let the dentist come in and examine his teeth. The people were so gentle, so patient, so calm. They were respectful, and had strategies that didn't involve physically holding a patient down.

I was so grateful, knowing that this would be how my son's teeth would be cared for in future. My son left the appointment happy.


Tooth fairies do exist!

We call them dental hygenists/technicians.

And wasn't Cinderella's fairy godmother an example of just this?

So glad to read this! And I'm sorry that the dentist at the adult clinic was not helpful. Some people need more training! We have our own tooth fairy here, a pediatric dentist that is wonderful. Her uncle had Down syndrome so she has an extra understanding of kids with disabilities. Sometimes my husband complains about the cost (she doesn't take our insurance so we have to pay up front and submit a claim), but there is no way we are going somewhere else. Once one of the kids had a problem and she was booked up, she told us to come in anyway and if we didn't mind waiting she would get him taken care of. She ran in to him between patients and did 5 or 10 minutes at a time until his tooth was fixed!