When the Dentist Throws You Out
My oldest son was terrified of the dentist. I am pretty sure it was my fault.
He went to the Headstart Program just a year or two before this incident occurred and part of the program offered free dental care. They bussed the students to the dentist, treated them for various dental issues, and bussed them back to the Headstart building.
I thought I was getting free dental care for my child, and I was overwhelmingly grateful for this, but I did not consider that these visits to the dentist for a 4-year-old would be traumatic.
Perhaps if I had only been there with him .
A few years later I took my then elementary-aged son and his younger toddler brother to the dentist. My oldest son had a cavity that needed filling or he needed a cleaning — I seriously do not remember — because the insanity that ensued that day dominates my memory.
I brought my boys to the dentist that day by myself. This was nothing unusual but for any of you who have taken small children to the doctor or dentist, you know the mental preparation you make with your kids to help them understand what will happen, and that they will be ok.
I did all of that, and probably then some, as my ADHD son had difficulties adjusting to new surroundings and could be difficult to manage.
It took some extra preparation and coaxing to even get him into the dentist chair. There were colorful paintings on the ceiling and I tried my best to entertain my other son who was sitting in a chair behind us and keep my older son’s attention trained on those colorful fish on the ceiling.
The dentist spoke calmly enough. He belted a silver “necklace” around the back of my son’s neck and attached a papery bib. At first, my son refused to open his mouth. The dentist, the dental hygienist, and I did our best to calm my son, who was gripping the chair arms in sheer terror.
Tears squeezed from the corners of his eyes as he half-laughed and half-cried, a response that I knew meant he was terribly afraid. My heart was breaking for him.
How had I not known how much this would terrify him?
He finally opened his mouth but only to tell the dentist, whose patience was wearing thin, that he had to go to the bathroom.
The dentist slid his chair backward and the hygienist walked my son to the restroom. I followed, which meant my younger toddler followed as well. My younger so gravitated to the lobby while I waited in the hallway for my terrified child to come out of the restroom.
No washing of hands.
I knocked. I knocked and talked calmly through the door. Minutes of this passed and it became clear that my son had locked himself in the bathroom and had no intentions of coming out.
The dentist was not only not amused; he was angry. He wanted his silver necklace-clampy thing back, and he wanted us to leave.
I was mortified. My hands were shaking in the stress of the moment.; my voice quivering as I fought back the tears of embarrassment and frustration.
I was doing the best I could, and my son was too scared to come out of the bathroom.
“Mommy, I have to pee.” I hear from my toddler in the lobby, holding himself.
I try to tell him to “just hold it” and amp up my insistence that my son come out of the bathroom right now!
There was no use.
My toddler stood in the lobby and began crying, as he uncontrollably wet his pants. He continued to cry.
My older son continued to cry.
I started to cry.
So, after convincing my son to come out of the bathroom that we were not going to get our teeth done today — we are going home right now, I promise, the dentist asked us to leave — and find another dentist!
I took both of my upset boys home that day and I didn’t even take myself back to that dentist.