Fear of the Dentist

September 22, 2011 § 2 Comments

One of my biggest fears as a mother has been having grown-ups, who are professionals, force my kids to do as they’re told. Telling my kid that “they’re fine” when they’re hurt and assuring them “there’s nothing to be afraid of” when they’re having a panic attack are among the lines I’ve heard. One of my all time favorites was having a health professional tell one of my kids, “you won’t get a toy unless you stop crying”. I quickly turned to my kid, a very young toddler at the time, and said (in Spanish), “they’re giving you the toy even if you keep crying… it’s okay if you cry”.

My kids are the kind that know quickly whether the grown-up they’re dealing with is being sincere or whether they just want them to perform in a certain way. In some cases, this adult manipulation is fine (yeah, no one is gonna give an adult a time-out for manipulating a kid, right!?). We manipulate at all ages. I don’t think that’s the part that bothers me.

The fact that the pediatric dentist we’ve been to in town like to use VERSED- a sedative with amnesiac properties- bothers me to no end. It will probably forever bother me that I allowed them to administer VERSED to my little boy when he was just 2 years old, so they could fix two of his front teeth from the terrible cavities he had.

PubMed says that VERSED, which is a brand name for Midazolam “is given to children before medical procedures or before anesthesia for surgery to cause drowsiness, relieve anxiety, and prevent any memory of the event. Midazolam is in a class of medications called benzodiazepines. It works by slowing activity in the brain to allow relaxation and sleep.”

I have to say that one day I might even use the word “regret” in place of “it bothers me”. It’s part of the burden of motherhood.

Yesterday, my 4yo knocked the filling off one of her front teeth with the hammer of the glockenspiel. I called the pediatric dentist who, guess what, asked if my 4yo was cooperative and when I said she’s had a really hard time in the past, said very matter-of-factly that I didn’t have to worry cos they could always use VERSED if she wouldn’t cooperate.

That was the last straw.

I know I can’t keep all chemicals away from my kids. But I will keep trying to limit their exposure whenever possible. This is one of those times.

I canceled the appointment at the pediatric dentist and called my dentist– the dentist who has been using composite on fillings since 1994, is aware of less invasive dental procedures, and wonders why it’s taking the rest of his profession so long to realize the damage of, say, mercury in your mouth.

While my sweet little boy didn’t want to be at dentists’ office, my girl was doing just fine. In short, for the first time, she sat in the dentists’ chair, held her mouth open wide and calmly waited for the dentist and his assistant to do their work.

The dentist put a new BPA-free plastic filling on the tooth, counted her teeth, talked to her, and helped us set up a cleaning.

I can’t tell you how giddy I was when I saw her there. She was so calm. I was so happy for her and I have been telling her as much all day. Even her brother told her how proud of her he was for letting the dentist do his work.

Today, it feels like anything is possible. And I stick to my mothering approach of supporting my kids thru thick and thin- thru every scream attack, every sobby story, every fear. I will believe them. Kids, I promise.

Here she is (and yes, that is a frilly skirt she’s wearing):


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§ 2 Responses to Fear of the Dentist

  • Kelsey Tepas says:

    I’m glad it went so well. We have also had our share of pediatric dentistry and trauma along with it. Just yesterday Liliana started saying her tooth hurt and I have been sick to my stomach the past 2 days thinking that it may be yet ANOTHER cavity. I’m going to make an appt just to have it checked because she decays so quickly, Hopefully it ends up being nothing, but I’m so nervous especially not having her papi here for support. Thanks for sharing your story and I’m glad I found your blog!

  • Leila says:

    Kelsey, thanks for the comment. I know that feeling in your stomach. It’s an anxiety I wish I didn’t have from time to time. Especially when it comes to dentists’ visits. I hope it’s nothing.

    And I’m glad you stopped by.

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