Fear of the Dentist

Many children / adults are often scared of the dentist but often once they have been for their check up they are ok and realise that there is nothing to be scared of as long as they follow the dentist advice and brush their teeth, don't eat too many sweets & so on. But what if they had very limited or no understanding of what a dentist is, what they do, why they have to get their teeth checked? It's very hard to try and get across why its so important to look after your teeth.

Roo as a baby had severe oral aversion as he hated anything in his mouth, he never went through the mouthing stage that all babies tend to go through, he wouldn't tolerate solids until he was almost 18mths old as he didn't like spoons, it also took that length of time to get him to accept a bottle. He just always hated anything in his mouth so tooth brushing was near impossible and caused him so much distress. But as he got older he got better with his food and now accepts cutlery, cups but he still doesn't put objects into his mouth like toothbrushes , toys etc.

Whenever we went to the dentist as a family we always had Roo so he always saw us get into the chair, get our  teeth checked, but whenever the dentist tried to get near his mouth he would clamp his lips so tight together, cry or move his head away..the dentist decided that it would be better to refer Roo to a SEN dentist. 

His SEN dentist is fab, very patient with Roo and always has advice which I am always willing to try, after a year of visiting and getting him used to the environment she managed to get a quick look into his mouth and to my horror she said he had a hole in his tooth so needed a silver crown but before they could attempt to try and do the work she refered him to the dental therapist. At first he would refuse to get out of his wheelchair, then we progressed to him sitting on a chair in the corner, I was taught to brush his skin with the toothbrush to try and desensitize the sensation....after many appointments we got to the stage where he would sit in the dentist chair & allowing them to look at his mouth (with one person holding his arms down) so we were able to get the crown on quickly. Lots of praise was given. The appointment after this one we noticed he seemed wary & we wondered if it was because he remembered what happened when he had the crown fitted but we just assumed he was having an off day and he was being sent back to his SEN dentist. At home he started to hold the tooth brush, run it under the water and bring it up towards his lips but no further...the only way I could brush his teeth was to hold him tightly and quickly brush them..10seconds was way better than none. He even got star of the week at school for actually putting the toothbrush into his mouth..he was doing fantastically but then all of a sudden it stopped. He no longer did it in school, he lashed out at home kicking and pushing. Got so distressed that some days it wasn't worth the battle as it would cause issues for the rest of the day...at a lost what to do we arrange another appointment as he was due a check up anyway.

We turned up for the appointment and as soon as we were called to go in Roo instantly became wary and did not want to walk towards the room but we managed to persuade him by getting the dentist to push Faith buggy which made Roo follow as he wanted to do the pushing (this is such a useful distraction as I use it at school on the days he is stubborn and it always works!) When we got to the room and he pushed Faith in he looked around and realised where he was...he backtracked out of the room. When I tried to take his hand he squealed, started shaking , dropped to the ground so I picked him up reassuring him but I could feel his heart racing, the fear & panicking look on his face, he was all hot and sweaty with his eyes wide open darting around the room. The dentist talked to him constantly, reassuring him, showing him what she was doing etc but he wasn't having it. In the end myself & the nurse had to hold down his legs to stop him kicking, his arms to stop him lashing out so that the dentist could have a quick look... yep he has another hole in a different tooth so needs yet another silver crown much to my dismay. We quickly got Roo off the chair and calmed down by letting him look at the stickers the nurse had out. After a lengthy talk with the dentist she felt that it would maybe be worth trying to make visuals, or even a social story about what happens during a visit to dentist etc to see if that would help Roo to underetand better, to be more prepared so she is going to look into trying to find visuals and I will do my own research too as this is the last resort thst we haven't tried. Dentistis going to refer him back to the dental therapist to try and rebuild his confidence to see if we will be able to get another silver crown...worse case scenario is a General anaesthetic to get work done on his teeth but they are keen to avoid it.

One step forward and 2 steps backwards - we will just have to keep trying , keep perservering in the hope that he will one day brush his teeth happily and visits to dentists go smoothly but that seems such a long time away and what if it never happens? What if we cannot get him to understand the importance of looking after his teeth? What if we cant get him to a dentist without him becoming so distressed? 

I have noticed that he is becoming more fearful of other things, gets distressed at things he used to like, is it a phase or is it something that going to be a part of Roo...who knows....

Meanwhile dentist also noticed he has a -

Wobbly tooth!!!! 

Eek...another milestone to come but how is he going to cope with it? Another sign that he is growing up and that brings the next set of worries as adult teeth are important and if he isn't tolerating brushing/dental treatment what state are his teeth going to end up like? But I'm not going to think about it for the time being..just going to focus on trying to help him overcome his current issues if ever.