We have an amazing dentist. AMAZING!!! His office is colorful, decorated with a cheerful "Under the Sea" theme. There are free-play video games in the waiting room. There is also a small, glassed-in room inside the treatment area with toys and a TV for siblings. The staff is always smiling. Every visit is filled with jokes, smiles and fun. The dentist and his staff speak directly to the children, explaining every step and working VERY hard to make them comfortable. My kids beg to go to the dentist. I am beginning to think they don't brush so they can go more often!
Our first visit to this office was great. I was impressed and the children were comfortable. But it was a children's dentist so I kind of expected a kid-friendly environment. I did not realize how fortunate we were.
Last summer, my then 7 year-old son, Alex, visited our dentist for a regular cleaning. He had a tooth that needed to be pulled. I scheduled an appointment but it was several weeks later. In the mean time, we received news that my mother-in-law was sick. We dropped everything and spent the summer with her.
We were two days into our trip when I noticed that Alex's cheek was puffy. After a few pointed questions he admitted that his mouth hurt. It was the tooth the dentist was planning to pull. But we were in another state. And it was Friday evening.
After some Internet surfing I found s children's dentist that was open on Saturday. We called and they agreed to see him. It was busy. We waited for a long time. There was a small play area but it was over-run with kids. When we finally saw the doctor she tried to talk me into a root canal. I told her to just pull it. Then we waited some more for a room.
We finally were taken to a small room. It was white. No pictures, nothing to distract the child. The assistant quietly put long socks on my sons arms. They went up to his shoulders. She explained to me what they were for but didn't speak to my son or make eye contact. She didn't smile. She just did her job. After the socks, she strapped him down to a board with four velcro straps, each one about 2 inches wide.
By now Alex is screaming. I am trying to talk to him to calm him down. Tears are running down his face. He is fighting hard against the straps but the assistant assures me that they are necessary. She still doesn't speak to Alex.
Then the dentist comes into the room. She places a large plastic block in his mouth and unceremoniously proceeds to numb the are around the tooth. Alex is screaming. I tried a few techniques I had seen our dentist use like counting and making jokes. It helped a little. At one point the dentist says to the assistant "This ones a fighter. Good thing we restrained him." I felt disgusted by their attitude towards my son but helpless to do anything about it.
After numbing the area around the tooth, the dentist left to check on another patient. While she as gone I tried to soothe Alex. I reassured him that it would be over soon. He looked so distraught! (He still had the block in his mouth, too!)
Soon another dentist came into the room. She briefly explained that the other dentist was busy and asked her to pull the tooth. She asked the assistant if he had been numbed and she said yes. The dentist didn't even check to see if it was actually numb yet! She started pulling the tooth and Alex started screaming again. (He later said it hurt a lot.) When she was done she left without another word.
The assistant told me that I was the best parent they had ever had. She said that is more parents were as helpful as I was they might not have to use the restraints as often. I was so upset by the whole experience I practically ran out of there! And Alex got lots of extra love and treats for the next few days!
After this horrific experience our current dentist has 100% patient loyalty. I can't imagine going to another dentist, taking a chance at having another nightmare. I feel that I have seen the very worst possible in children's dentistry. I have also seen the very best. I will hold every dentist to these two standards for the rest of my life. I certainly hope there are a lot more like Dr. Deeds than Drs. Torture and Ignore.