Shark Teeth image by DrMama from Creative Commons
We have had the worst luck with dentists. Because of Gus's Asperger's and MM's general skittishness about dentists we've been careful to make sure that we're seeing a pediatric dentist who has experience treating children with autism. Of course, when you call, everyone says, "Oh sure! Dr. So-and-so has loads of experience treating all kinds of children! Bring them in!" Then it turns out that Dr. So-and-so has the patience of a fruit fly or some other issue that makes him unacceptable.
The first dentist we went to…I should have known something was wrong because he smiled too much. There's happy, and then there's unnatural. He was definitely unnatural. As a matter of practice, he did not allow parents into the exam room. I shrugged and washed my hands of the whole situation – I know what my son is capable of. Within minutes he was all over the office and the dentist finally accepted that Gus would not allow an electric brush of any sort into his mouth. So basically, we took him to the dentist to have his teeth brushed. MM had an unpleasant experience getting her first cavity filled, and Dr. Impatient was not happy that the 'happy gas' didn't trick her into happiness for a moment. But the worst part of that whole experience was that he charged us two arms and a leg for the most basic of services. Silly me, I went to a dentist out of our network.
The next dentist – in our network – was amazing. He pulled 2 of Gus's teeth with no laughing gas and zero drama. Gus watched a video fish tank the whole time and was calmer than I'd ever seen him. He took pity on MM and even though she had a cavity, he put a sealant on it in the hopes that it wouldn't worsen too quickly. He could tell that she wasn't going to have an easy time with a filling. I thought we'd struck diamonds.
He left the practice. Didn't even bother to wait for a replacement. Bye-bye!
Last week we found ourselves again in search of a dentist – this time for MM's cavity, which started to hurt. Several dentists listed on our plan's website were no longer accepting the plan, but one referred us to someone who is supposed to be the best in the county. The assistant was very nice and managed to get MM to give her a couple of x-rays, but I could sense her getting a little irritated. Because, of course, a five-year-old who can barely fit the film in her mouth isn't going to move…or gag. I could totally see where she was coming from. We got through it, but I had a twinge of unease; if they were getting a little miffed with MM, Gus would likely have someone's head spinning. But I could have been over-reacting. So I thought we might stick with this doctor, even though he was out of our network. Then I saw the out-of-pocket estimate. Considering that MM has cavity prone teeth, and Gus has shark teeth, if we start spending that kind of money on dental work now, we'll be living in cardboard boxes before they hit adolescence. I kept looking.
Finally, there was someone in our network again, who seemed workable. MM went in today to have that tooth looked at; it needs a root canal now. That will be an adventure, but I'm not sure if Gus will be able to handle this particular office. It is huge! There are about 7 or 8 dentists, some for adults and some for kids. I nearly lost MM in the maze of rooms. The children's area was friendly enough, but I could just see him running into each and every room. The lights are very bright, and while it isn't loud, it also isn't very soothing. I really think he needs a much smaller office, one that's tailored to special needs children. So now the question is, do I at least try him with yet another dentist, or do I follow my instincts and keep looking?
How do you handle your special needs child's dental care?