We left off in the first post with me being unsatisfied with the pediatric dentist and overwhelmed with the financial burden.
I continued to remain unsatisfied in my spirit. Something about that pediatric dentist was not sitting right with me. There was one more option in town. There is a government subsidized dental residency program that offers sliding scale fees. Besides my grandparents who are getting high level work done and who have been satisfied, I could not find anyone who would give me a solid recommendation on their pediatric program. In fact, I even called my family hygienist and practically begged her for a recommendation and she told me to stay with who I was with. I was so uneasy and not at peace that I decided to call TLC (the clinic). In my first conversation with the receptionist I told her that I have a shy child and I was very anxious so put us with the most patient dentist!
We had an appointment a few days later. The office was bright, clean and huge.We qualified for the sliding scale (more humility...it causes growth and brings relief). Anna and I sat in the waiting room only long enough to get comfortable and the dentist met with us right away. I told her up front our story to that point. I almost got teary when I reported that we were told our only option beyond laughing gas was to go to Annapolis for treatment. The dentist stopped me there she said, I want you to know that TLC can help you. We offer three levels of sedation. Laughing gas, a medium sedation in the office and, she explained, we also have hospital rights where we can do treatment under anesthesia. I also told her how guilty I felt about Anna's teeth. I told her that we haven't had juice in the house since April and what we generally eat. The dentist agreed that cutting sugar out of a diet isn't realistic and, in fact, she didn't even want to do that so she wouldn't tell her patients too. She really felt that juice is probably what is to blame.
Anna did everything she told me that she would do. She perched herself on the very edge of the chair (she said she would sit on the chair alone) and cooperated with opening her mouth.
The dentist then wanted to do x-rays. I got Anna to the point of sitting all the way in the chair, but as soon as they pulled out the lead apron that was it. Anna was crying and reaching for me. It just wasn't going to happen. Thankfully she hadn't eaten much that morning so we tried laughing gas to get the x-rays instead of having to go back for that. It didn't work. Laying back in the chair let alone having a thing blowing air in your nose wasn't going to happen. And you know what? I was ok with it. Anna's behavior was not a reflection on my parenting--she was scared and acting appropriately for a 4 year old. Some kids can be brave and tough, mine can't.
The dentist then talked to me about how the in office sedation works and then needed to see Anna's tonsils. Anna was still upset and wouldn't open her mouth. We chatted for a bit about TLC and I told her the community had mixed reviews. She was interested and I said one thing I kept hearing was that the dentists were students. She explained the residency program--everyone there is a licensed dentist and they are getting extra training. The dentist we were with is 5 weeks away from being a pediatric dentist. She graduates from the residency program July 1.
At this point she went to consult with the head of the pediatric department. While she was away, I talked to Anna and Anna agreed to open her mouth. On her own Anna also said she would try the "pink nose". Anna followed through on opening her mouth. She badly wanted to cooperate with the laughing gas, she laid sideways on the chair, but just couldn't relax enough to lay back.
So...we talked more about the in office sedation and then the head of the department looked at Anna's tonsils. Her tonsils were big enough that they needed pediatrician clearance for in office sedation. The dentist talked to me more about treatment at the hospital. That dentist spent almost an hour with Anna and I. She was really great. I wish I could continue working with her. I felt like Anna was in good hands and she took a lot of time to reassure me.
Today we went to visit our pediatrician. Anna's tonsils are enlarged. The risk is that the tissues could relax in such a way during sedation that they close off the airway. IF that were to happen the office is not staffed in such a way to handle that emergency. The pediatrician decided that the safest thing to do was treat Anna at the hospital where there is anesthesia back-up. I had decided before the appointment that I would go with whatever the doctor said without fussing. Part of me thinks it's outrageously crazy to be going to the hospital for general anesthesia for cavity fillings--in BABY TEETH!!! The other part of me knows it would be even crazier for something horrible to happen to my baby while she is getting fillings in the office. So we will be safe.
The things I'm thankful for---I'm so glad I found TLC. We get multiple dentists (2 residents and the head of the department) for the price of one. We stay in our home town for treatment which eases my anxiety tremendously. All of the work will be done at once--x-rays, all fillings and even a cleaning, I was told. The hospital will do a payment plan and we may even have time to get dental insurance.
It's not scheduled yet. TLC only has a hospital day every few months since the demand is low. I have no idea what time frame I'm looking at. In the meantime, I'll keep perspective--it's only cavity fillings. Anna is going to be just fine. I'm pretty sure I will survive too!