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>Do You See a Pediatric Dentist?

June 9, 2011

>I’ve seen the same “family dentist” since long before I became a mother. So it was natural that when I had children, mine would join the others playing in the lobby waiting to see the dentist. I like her, they liked her. It worked great for Faith and Mercy.

Then came Hope. Nary a child cavity in our family until Hope’s first visit, when she already had two. Hope’s baby teeth, my dentist told us, were as soft as butter under thin enamel. Cavity prone. Over the next year, with nitrous oxide for anesthetic, Hope had two rounds of fillings. The third time, she simply clamped her teeth shut and refused to open her mouth. No inducements worked. So my dentist referred Hope to a pediatric dentist.

Enter Dr. Mark Moeller. (That’s his real name. I don’t think he had any choice but to grow up and be a dentist.) When he looked at her x-rays, the report made my heart sink. Each of her previous fillings needed to be redone. Plus she needed three crowns. Hope: my child with sensory integration issues, who is easily driven to opposition when afraid, who had vowed she’d never open her mouth for a dentist again. Not even just to look.

“Do you use general anesthetic?” I asked. “I don’t think she’s even going to open her mouth and if she decides that, nothing you or I can say or do will make her change her mind.”

“No,” Dr. Moeller answered. “I use nitrous and Novocaine. We rarely have to use general anesthetic unless the work is really extensive. Then we do that at a hospital. But I think she’ll be okay.”

So we tried it. I sat in a chair in the room and watched the whole thing. Nitrous, numbing jelly, then much to my amazement, Novocain. Hope didn’t even flinch.  She gamely laid there, mouth open while he drilled and filled and capped, the whole while telling stories about princess teeth. Four visits in a row.

Hope now has a mouth that sparkles like her favorite shoes. And all the girls now see Dr. Mark. Yes, I felt a bit guilty for defecting from our family dentist, who I still see. But I’m now a big fan of pediatric dentistry. he even interned at Gillette and knows his stuff about cerebral palsy for Joy. I couldn’t ask for more.

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