As with most things that typical kids do without thought or fanfare, going to the dentist is a big deal for Grace. She is considered orally defensive. Which means that sister doesn't open her mouth for anything. She hates, hates, hates having her teeth brushed. It typically takes 3 people to do and I pray that her brothers are not traumatized by all the screaming and crying. It is funny when she has a loose tooth because she won't let you touch it. And I'm afraid to put my fingers in her mouth. So usually, we find out she lost a tooth because there's all of the sudden a gap there when she wakes up or school sends either the tooth or a note home.
We had been on waiting lists for two years at the dental clinics at both local children's hospitals. I kept telling Mark that we needed to find a dentist that specialized in special needs kids. Well, we finally did. A friend of mine who has a son with autism recommended the dentist she takes her son Sammy to. So I called and explained Grace and her oral defensiveness and they scheduled an appointment for us.
I was pretty nervous because I hate to see Grace upset. But I knew that we needed to try and take her. She can't tell us if anything in her mouth hurts and I was beginning to be concerned about cavities because of how difficult it is to brush her teeth. Also, my dear friend Ana came with us and that made all the difference in the appointment for both me and Grace.
We took Grace to see Dr. Carolyn Loughlin. The whole appointment was amazing. All of the staff were so great with us. They all understood that she had multiple special needs and was scared out of her mind. They talked to her the whole time, even though they knew she couldn't talk. It did end up taking four of us to hold her down for the exam and she cried through most of it. But after a while, Grace must have realized that they weren't going to hurt her because she stopped fighting and opened her mouth on her own. I'm not going to lie. I was bawling. I was so proud of her! I was equally impressed with the care and attention she got from the staff. I can't say enough good things about this dentist's office.
After the evaluation, Dr. Loughlin said she hoped that Grace would become less and less scared at each visit until she was voluntarily getting her teeth cleaned. I am hopeful that will happen with time because this year was the first year she had her annual physical check up without crying. So I think that bringing Grace to this dentist will help her with her reluctance to open her mouth.
I cannot recommend this office and dentist enough. If we didn't already love the dentist we take John and Luke to, I would be switching them to her also. If you are looking for a good pediatric dentist for your special needs child, I urge you to call Dr. Loughlin's office. You can find her website here at healthy young smiles.