Thursday, 28 November 2013

Dentist fail

I brought my two kids to the dentist this afternoon for their first ever visit.
I had done some research and this dentist came well recommended as being good with kids.
I had been bigging up the visit in a calm and casual way all week, talking about how this kind lady was going to count their teeth and give us advice on how to brush well etc.

I expected her to introduce herself to us, to take a minute to chat to the kids, maybe let them press the button to make the chair move. I had hoped that they would take to her, as they take to most people.

I'm afraid the visit didn't go like that. No introductions, no chat, a little conversation mostly about how the payment would be arranged. On entering the surgery we were greeted by the  small tray of instruments,  the hooks and picks and sharp god knows what. Her mask and that of her assistant were on most of the time in the surgery which my eldest said afterward was a bit scary.

We were asked which of us was going first, we had decided in advance that I would so my son could suss it out and see what was involved. I had a few teeth checked but then my 2 year old's lip started quivering and he started asking to go home.

I abandoned the chair and we asked my eldest would he like to go next. For a couple of minutes he was asked and cajoled to sit in the chair by myself and the two dentists. When it was obvious he wasn't going to do it I asked had they any ideas for a way to relax or prepare him a bit more. I was met with silence.

I suggested coming back another day and was told that would make a bigger deal of it and we should just get it over with today. We packed up and left a certain froideur behind us.


We still went and bought the promised magazines with toys. Went to a cafe so we could relax a bit. While in the surgery I had been a bit embarrassed and felt a bit like we had wasted their time,  on reflection I'm really proud of my eldest for not consenting to have a stranger poke and prod inside his mouth.  Especially a stranger who didn't take one minute to get to know his name, age or one thing about him. I found her abrupt yet friendly,  but a kid, my kid, needs a smile and eye contact if he's to trust someone.

I've promised my son we will find another dentist who is fun and friendly,  and I will keep searching until I find them. I've also told him I'm proud of him for saying no to something he's not confortable with. He knows I'm on his side. At least our trust is intact even if his tooth enamel isn't. Ps this wasn't an emergency visit, he has a couple of cavities but no pain.
How do your kids cope with medics and exams like that?

Nee x


  1. Oh that definitely could have gone better. I am always amazed at professionals not making more of an effort, knowing their client is going to go away talking about how awful they found the service or raving about how good it was. The mind boggles. And what? Were you supposed to pop a scared child up into the chair and hold him down? Don't think so!!! A couple of minutes can leave a negative mark on a child for life. My sister had a horrible experience as a child and it took her years to relax about dentists. I love that C didn't back down. Love it!!!!!! I would be so proud of him too. Unfortunately I have a boy who would have climbed up there, terrified, gulping and swallowing afraid to say "no" because it is a doctor/dentist/teacher etc. I am trying to instill some self confidence at the moment. You've obviously nailed that. Good job!

    1. Thanks Gwen, we're over it now, but I've promised him no more mentions of dentists until after xmas. Your poor sister. I too had some dodgy health care professionals in my time, it's made me extra wary about who comes near my kids. I'm sure your son just needs to hear it's ok to say no, that's been the key here. Thanks for the comment! X

  2. Hi Niamh, you were all absolutely right to abandon. The wearing of masks as patients enter the treatment room is so discourteous anyway, but to wear it as kids come in for the first, no, no! I have dreadful issues with my teeth based on bad experiences with dentists as a young child. The fear has remained but I have to force myself to get over it. Many times I braved severe pain to avoid going to a dentist. When I did go after many years, I experienced a dentist who didn't remove her mask through the whole appointment and mumbled 'malignant' in relation to a gum issue...totally unprofessional. Don't feel in any way bad about this - it's a service that YOU were paying for. Write a letter to the dentist, let her know how you and the boys felt. I hate this thing that anybody vaguely medical can get away with non-existant customer service skills...I had an awful experience with a (well paid)paediatrican in Tallaght recently who displayed no skills on how to deal with people let alone her speciality, children. My letter is being written right now.
    Anyway, you were 100% right, why force the boys to go through with something when it would possibly cause issues in the future with how they perceive going to the dentist.. Colette

    1. Thanks a mill Colette. It's mad how childhood experiences can have such a knock on effect. I think I will write a letter, we certainlt won't be darkening their door again. Thamks for sharing your story xx

  3. Oh no how awful! I had the opposite experience bringing my boys to the dentist for the first time. Dentist was prepped in advance that I was bringing my boys for the first time and that they might be a bit nervous (in reality I was probably the nervous one). In the waiting room there was a picture book for children about going to the dentist that we looked at together before going in. Once in the dentist suggested I go first and he showed the boys how he could make me go up and down in the chair and he made a big deal of the cool sunglasses I got to wear while he looked at my teeth so my eldest couldn't wait to get in the chair. He had a few goes in the chair and then opened wide with no hesitation, loving seeing his mouth and teeth on the telly screen. My youngest was less forthcoming so I got back in the chair and he lay back on me and that was okay. I was worried about visible plaque build up on his teeth and the dentist completely put me at ease and no fuss was made. I think this dentist is probably a bit far for you as he's outside Dublin but if you'd like his details for the future let me know and I'll email them to you.

    1. Wow I'd travel anywhere for a positive experience like that! What a lovely kind dentist! Please do send me the details, it may not be too far for us, niamh at the mamas hip blog dot com

  4. Hi there, the gang in Anne's Lane dental practice just off grafton st are fantastic, especially the lady (sorry can't think of her name) very warm and friendly, would be worth a conversation with them after Xmas xxx


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