Taking Your Kids to the Dentist Just Got Scarier Than Ever

kid dentistI always thought taking our kids to the dentist was part of our job as parents. It's right up there with getting their vaccinations and making sure they eat a balanced diet. So let's just say the ABC News report that a number of kids have died during regular dental visits scared the ever living crud out of me.

These weren't kids whose parents had let their teeth decay so badly they had insidious infections. These weren't kids with bizarre health problems. They were just normal, everyday kids whose caring parents took them in to the dentist for normal check-ups and average cavity fillings.

You know ... parents like you and me. Only now those parents are grieving. So why shouldn't you be scared?


You can keep your kids safe and still keep their teeth clean.

The problems seems to be kids put under sedation. Turns out there are dentists all over the U.S. who like to put kids under before they will take a peek in their mouths. Only with little training in how to sedate kids, or what to do if the sedation goes wrong, things can turn tragic very quickly. The ABC News report claims this happens because they're greedy practitioners trying to milk parents out of their money

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What scares me is why parents went along with it. The dentists apparently put up a good enough reason to convince Mom and Dad -- it will calm their kids, keep them from fearing the dentist.

Can you blame the parents for saying yes? I can't. I've been there.

Last year my daughter was nursing a wiggler on the day of our regularly scheduled check-up, and she told the dentist she wanted him to pull it out. So he got her all comfy in the chair, pulled out the pliers, and she freaked! And then he did something that reminded me why he is the dentist I have used for so many years and will keep on going to: he put the pliers away and told her to hop out of the chair. He told me she's always been a great little patient, and he didn't want to scare her.

And that, folks, is what I hope people realize about this report. Yes, shady dentists are scary. Yes, you should beware sedation and kids.

But this doesn't mean you should say "no more dentist" for your kids. You just need to go into that office knowing that it's OK to say "no" when they suggest something a little ... shall we say unconventional?

The difference between my dentist and the creepy ones? He has never once suggested she needed medication so they can work on her. 

Instead he and his staff are all about trying to make her comfortable and make the experience pleasant. They explain everything to her. They take cues from her. They let her pick through the prize bin at the end (yes, my dentist bribes my kid, and I'm A-OK with that). Believe it or not, she is actually excited to go see our dentist next month so he can fill out her back-to-school dental form.

Have you let your dentist put your child under sedation? What was it like?


Image by Jeanne Sager

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