Recently, we received a call from a parent. She had taken her nine year old daughter to six different dentists to have a couple cavities filled. Her daughter, Sarah, refused to have the treatment done. Of course, we wanted to help and Sarah’s appointment was made.
When Sarah and her Dad came for her first appointment I made sure I had time to spend with her. I had a feeling no one had taken the time to acknowledge that she was a person, not just a child, and also that she needed time to form a relationship with the dental team that would be doing her dental work.
Sarah and I talked about her family, her pets, my family and my pets. Once we had gotten to know each other and I had gained her trust, I asked her why she didn’t want to have her cavities filled. I’m not sure if anyone had ever asked her this before. Well, Sarah said she was scared it would hurt. That, to me, was an intelligent answer. Sarah was not going to let someone hurt her!
I explained the way we were going to put her tooth to sleep so she wouldn’t feel any pain. We would first use the numbing gel around the tooth to start the numbing process. Then we would use the wand to put the tooth to sleep. The wand looks like a pen and delivers anesthetic right to the tooth. Some patients feel a small poke, but some don’t feel anything at all.
Next, Dr. Siddall came in and met Sarah. Talking together they also got to know each other and a relationship was made.
While we were filling Sarah’s tooth, Sarah looked up at me and said, “Thank you!” I knew Sarah had never wanted to be difficult. She just had strong survival instincts and didn’t know how to go about getting her cavities filled. By treating Sarah like a person and not just a child, and taking the time to form a relationship, Dr. Siddall, Sarah and I became a team and we filled her cavities that day!