Monday, January 28, 2008

The dentist

This post isn't going to earn me any points, but I thought I'd do an informal poll.

I took Lauren to the dentist today. He is a pediatric dentist. I'd like to tell you I know him well, but the truth is managed care doesn't really permit knowing your doctor. Lauren has been seeing him since she turned 3.

This visit when the hygienist came to get Lauren, I grabbed my purse and started to get Lindsay. She stopped me. "Uh, I'll just be taking Lauren back by herself."

"No." I said.

"Why," she said, her face very close to mine. "Do you have some problem with that?"

"No." I replied. "But I need to ask Lauren..."

She interrupted me and kneeled to talk to Lauren, her face very close to Lauren's. "Don't you want to give your mom a break?" She asked. Lauren didn't reply, and looked a little alarmed. "You're big enough to come back by yourself...and if you need your mom, I will come back and get her."

"Okay." Lauren said.

"My name is Julie." She said, as they walked through the door together.

I was so anxious the entire time I was there. Now, I am an awkward person. I don't do chit-chat well. But I really felt in that moment I failed Lauren because I allowed myself to be managed by this woman whose motives I didn't understand. About twenty minutes later, she popped her head out to let me know Lauren was fine and watching Snoopy. A half hour later, I was called in to speak with the dentist who chastised me for allowing Lauren to brush her own teeth, and told me I'd have to bring her in to have a cavity filled.

I was too flummoxed by the cavity, dealing with the copay and making another appointment (they only had 3 appointments, 2 of them I couldn't take because Lauren is out of town for a week, and all of the appointments were during school...they were unwilling to discuss an appointment farther than 3 weeks out) to really say anything to the dentist, but I felt like it just wasn't right that I couldn't go in with Lauren - after all, I accompany her for every doctor's appointment, every other specialist we've ever seen...and I think it would've been OK if Lauren said, "Gee, Mom, I really want to go by myself."

Am I overreacting?


emmay said...

No, not at all. I would be very uneasy about that. Can you find another dentist within your network? How old is Lauren again? Ruthie was 3 1/2 when she had two cavities, and we were not chastised at all, but given some constructive suggestions for preventing them.

Epiphany Alone said...

Lauren is 5, and in kindergarten. This is Lauren's 5th cavity. She had all four 1st molars filled after her first visit when she was 3. She has almost no enamel on her back teeth either because of genes (I have nearly every tooth filled), or it might have been serial antibiotics when she was around a year old.

emmay said...

Ruthie is 3 and bushes her own teeth. Heck Helen does frequently and she'll be two next week. Guess I'll be getting her teeth filled soon.

Debbie said...

No you most certainly are not over reacting. Recently I've learned that dentists are doing some pretty rotten stuff to our children when not accompanied by parents, not to say they are molesting them, but things sometimes just aren't on the up and up. Please see my blog and spend some time there reading about all the stuff that is going on. Next time, don't let them out maneuver you, you are her parent! Also, be careful when you sign those consent forms for treatment, they may be consenting to them tying her down.

Kids Special Needs said...

You are not over reacting at all. I think it's highly suspicious that the dentist behaved that way. I know conflict is difficult, and I hate it when people put us in those positions. We know our kids and family better than any dentist, so we should be in charge of who they walk off alone with.

Listen to your instincts. You have good ones.

One time we were practically accused of child abuse by the dentist because our son's molars were eroding (at age 7). Did they ask me about antibiotics, injuries, etc.? Oh heavens no. They just went into a rant about what horrible people we are and horrible parents. When I could get a word in edgewise (about 25 minutes into the browbeating), I told them our son was on year round antibiotics for several years due to a severe ear condition. When you do that, the teeth that come in about three years later are affected. Teeth form for years before they come in. The dentist & staff felt like heels. And I enjoyed that.

dmdmo said...

I'm a dentist in NY. Just give you a my two cents. Often parents can feed a kid's anxiety with their own. Many dentists treating children find that children behave better without having a parent there.

karen said...

Leave that doctor now. I wouldn't even take Lauren in to have her cavity filled there - go to a different dentist. Any health professional that makes you uncomfortable in any way should be dropped like a hot rock!

Carly said...

I'm NOT ok with them not allowing you in when she is only five. No effing way, not in this day and age.

Spencergirl said...

I would not be comfortable with it either! She's only five. MAYBE if the hygienist had asked you first and said something like, "we find that our younger patients are less anxious when their parents are not in the room, would you be comfortable waiting out here?" MAYBE, I would consider it, but probably not.

Sister K said...

no way. that'd be the last time i went back to that office...except to give that "assistant" a piece of my mind...go w/ your instincts...i got the heebie geebies just reading that nitwit's reaction

Sister K said...

oh, and notice you're never in the obgyn's office w/out a female asst. present, right? ;)

Epiphany Alone said...

Marianne: I wouldn't think so. I think it has mostly to do with Lauren's no enamel issue.

Debbie: Yikes! That's really scary. Thanks for running the watchdog site. It certainly is an issue that needs attention.

SNK: That's awful. You think they might have said, "We're seeing significant erosion, these are some possible causes..." It's an important thing to know about the antibiotics, I mean, not that I would've taken her off them (she was on Zythromax after becoming sensitized to Amoxicillan for probably 6 months all told) with her chronic ear infections from 12-18 months, but when I was told she has no tooth enamel and I should stop letting her go to bed with a bottle full of juice (I wasn't doing this, but this was what they decided caused damage), I wasn't properly armed with the truth.

DMDMo, I don't disagree with that. And if it had been approached differently, (say at the end of last visit, or when they confirmed the appointment) I wouldn't have gotten a Very Bad Feeling about it.

Karen: I think that's right.

Carly: Thanks! I think it's too little for that also.

Spencergirl: Yes, it had a lot to do with the hygienist's approach. I really felt like she was "managing" me.

K: Thanks! And I didn't think about the obgyn, but yes. As an adult if I want to bring my Mom or my husband with me, I can't think of any of my doctors who would even bat an eye.

*pab said...

you are certainly NOT overreacting. Julie needs a swift kick in the shins from a very proper lady wearing pointy-toe slingbacks. I'll volunteer.

Ashley Long said...

I go back with my kiddos all the time when I take them to the dentist. I would not let my 5 year old go off alone. The nerve of some people. My kiddos love the dentist (actually beg to go) and I think it all has to do with the approach by the dentists and hygentist. Of course it helps that the entire area is all open with the kids chairs all facing tv's.

Keysgal@QuietWater said...

Hi, my name is Pat and I am Paige & Ashley's mama. I just have to make a comment to this post. You are in no way over-reacting. There is no way a mother should be told she cannot accompany her child on a doctor or dentist visit. First of all it can be scary for the child and secondly it gives the parent a chance to get to know the doctor, the hygenist or the dentist. The treatment you received smacks of unprofessionalism and what do they have to hide? One of my daughters had to have her molars sealed to prevent cavities, not because she didn't brush her teeth but she inherited the tendancy to have soft enamel. I would fire that dentist in a heartbeat!

Special K said...

At her age that should be up to the parent, not a strange DA with a weird bedside manner. Yes in this day and age we should ALL have someone with us in an office. I would question a doctor that was so AGAINST a parent being present. Sounds weird to me.
Some kids are more prone to cavities. I did not brush well as a child and never had one. My best friend brushed religiously and flossed too and she battled them all the time.