Have you ever been scared to see the dentist? Compound it a hundred fold and you might be close to the fear Matthew has. Of course, it’s irrational and I can tell when he’s trying, but still we’ve had appointments where I’ve had to push him through the door just to get inside.
Over the years we have been to many different dentists. Some took one look at Matthew and then wrote a referral. Then we would be referred again. And finally get to the “super specialist” who would gladly do the work but was always hugely busy and getting an appointment took months. Unfortunately, it always seemed just as we would get all the snarls worked out our insurance would change and we’d have to start all over. Yuck. It wasn’t fun.
Without going into a whole long story about these experiences let me just say that a couple years ago Arizona’s medicaid program (AHCCCS) offered to pay some of the disabled adult’s dental care. The program only lasted one year. In order for it to work for us we had to find a dentist who was on both our current personal insurance and Matthew’s supplemental plan. It turned out there was one office in the Valley that would meet our needs. And at that office we met Dr. Melanie Hull. http://phoenixpediatricdental.com
We got Matthew an appointment and just in time too. He had several severe problems. (Some people say that an unfortunate side effect of Celiac Disease is a “robbing” of calcium through the body and yep, the teeth.) In any case, the work had to be done under general anesthesia which, because Matthew is not too big, they were able to do in the office. The very surprising outcome of this was that the dentist was actually willing to see him again. And we went back in three months and then in six months. The first few times Matthew sat in the corner and barely tolerated letting Dr. Hull looked at his teeth. Now, he sits in the dental chair and actually puts his head back (a pretty brave thing if you are Matthew). This morning he let her brush his teeth and clean four or five before he jumped up. We even attempted an x-ray of his teeth. Dr. Hull has been amazingly patient and consistent–two key factors for Matthew. Today she said she’s okay with taking it one step at a time. She also takes time to look at his worn and tattered TV Guide and talks to him about his favorite shows and even patiently listens to his mom who insists on talking about all those past trials.
So we’ve made our next appointment. I also brought home with me a plastic holder for the x-ray film. Our experience has shown us that when we practice, practice, practice Matthew can grow to tolerate different procedures. Our goal is to get good x-rays at that next visit. Today Matthew was also given his own personal Phoenix Pediatric Dental shirt. You can see it in the above picture as he shows off his beautiful clean teeth. (I am sure his friends will also note that Walker, Texas Ranger managed to make it in the picture.)
Chalk up one for a good day with the dentist.