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Another newbie here, advice please

L

Lucy's mum

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What a relief to find this site!

This is my situation: my 11 year old daughter suffers from this phobia and has done pretty much all her life. She said 'no dentist' aged 2 when we took her for her first check up and didn't even know what a dentist was. My husband and I are both fine about the dentist so she wasn't picking anything up so we're flummoxed where this fear came from.

For years we thought she was playing up when she refused to sit in the chair, open her mouth etc. Eventually about 3 years ago we changed dentists and took her to a children's dentist in Golders Green who has been fantastically patient with her. However she is still refusing to go and hasn't had a proper check up in a long time.

I have recently taken her to a psychologist but she pretty much refused to talk. One interesting thing the psychologist noticed was that she was (apparently) fine having an impression done at her new school for a mouthguard. So she thinks it MIGHT be a 'control' thing rather than a genuine fear. However when I talked to my daughter tonight about the impression she told me (through floods of tears) that she felt she didn't have a choice and that she DID make a fuss and they sort of had to prise her mouth open.

So now I don't know what to think. We are seeing the psychologist tmw evening (without my daughter) to discuss things but she did say that she has to WANT to get some help and decide to let go. I have tried talking to my daughter but the only thing I managed to get was she doesn't like not knowing what's going to happen. Even so, my recollection of the last attempted check up was that the dentist told her exactly what he was doing, didn't insist on the chair, took off his gloves etc and did everything he could to make her feel more comfortable.

Does anyone have any advice as to where to go from here? What's worrying me is that if her teeth aren't being regularly checked, there could be possible problems, decay etc.
 
I

iDent

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:welcome: Dear Lucy's Mum:

As someone who was "fired" from my first childhood dentist's practice when I was eight, I sympathize with Lucy. . .and with you.

1.) Aside from dental phobia, does Lucy have any other psychological issues or learning disabilities? If she overreacts to sensory stimulation that does not bother most people, she might have a neurological problem called sensory-processing disorder.

2.) Was Lucy a NICU baby who may have needed a ventilator and/or nasogastric (NG) feeding tube, or did she ever require either of these things as an older child, such as during and after surgery or during a prolonged hospitalization? Even if she was too young to remember, she may have an unpleasant physical (rather than conscious) memory of objects invading her oral cavity, which could contribute to her dental phobia. This is purely hypothetical speculation on my part: I was a preemie in the late 1960s, and although my oxygen therapy was not administered by ventilator, I know I had an NG feeding tube for the first few weeks. I've always wondered if this is one reason of many why I've disliked dentistry since childhood.

3.) Finally (and I really don't intend to offend, but this is important), is there any chance that Lucy may have been abused by a caregiver in the past? She may have had a babysitter, nanny, or preschool teacher who was abusive, and again, provided she was young enough, she may not even have conscious memories of the abuse. When a child is "more reluctant than usual" to speak with a psychologist, I am inclined to wonder if she's hiding something that she feels is too painful or shameful to discuss. Please note that I am not a mental-health professional, but have some personal experience as a therapy patient.

4.) As for "control," it could be. . .many odontophobes, including myself, are control freaks! Some of this may be neurological (e.g. sensory-processing disorder), but it can also be psychological.

"Why" is important so that you and Lucy's dentist can help Lucy. If psychological evaluation reveals that she does not have a neurological or psychological problem, you may need to consider finding another dentist or having Lucy's current dentist use sedation so Lucy can begin evaluation, and, if necessary, treatment.

Thank you for joining the forum, and please keep us posted on Lucy's status.

:plays:
 
kitkat

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Poor thing! I can also sympathize with Lucy. I was always terrified of dentists as a kid and while less terrified now, I have a lot of anxiety about appointments. It sounds like you have a great dentist now so I would recommend trying to stick with him to work through this if you can. I don't really remember having a particularly awful experience as a kid; I was just always afraid and for me, I believe that it was a control issue. If this is a control issue that she's facing, sedation is probably not the answer and may only escalate the situation.

I know this sounds basic but have you asked her what she is afraid of? or why she is afraid? Being a scared kid myself at one point in time, I think the only thing that is really going to help her is building a trusting relationship with a dentist and having consistently positive experiences. You could explore desensitization with her and using a stop signal so that she feels like she has more control over the situation. With the stop signal many will introduce it, have the child count to 5 and use it a few times and then count to 10 and 15 and 20 and so on, until they have built up trust in the signal and feel secure that the dentist will stop. Eventually, they should feel comfortable just using it as needed. One word of caution and I don't mean to offend when I say it but no matter what you do, please do not force it on her or allow the dental staff to force it on her with some form of restraint. This will only make matters worse for the long-term and ruin any chance of building a trusting relationship with the dental team.
 
L

Lucy's mum

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Thank you for your replies, it's such a relief to find I'm (or she's) not alone.

iDent - some interesting points. With regard to your second point, the only thing I can think of is that when Lucy was born, she had passed meconium in the womb so had a doctor standing by at her birth. She wasn't taken to special care of anything like that, but she did need to be sucked out with a tube. But I remember this taking all of a few minutes and was absolutely fine.

kitkat - I have tried asking her (gently) what frightens her but all I get is 'I don't know' then usually tears.The psychologist did say she has to be ready to get help and not force matters as you've said. But I do struggle with this (a bit) because surely having regular dental check-ups is as important as eating a healthy diet or getting enough sleep and as a parent you would make sure those things were happening wouldn't you?

Also, I don't know whether to stay with this dentist or try someone new. He has been fantastic with her and I'm extremely grateful to him for his patience but in practice, I don't think he's ever had a patient as scared as her (the first time we went she hid behind the sofa in the waiting room, we thought she'd run away). There is a recommendation on this forum of a dentist who is very close to where I live and they actually specialise in phobic patients. I spoke to them on the phone and they suggested I bring her in just for a chat. But I don't know whether to do this or stick where we are where she's starting to build up a relationship (albeit a poor one at the moment).

She seems to clam up talking about the issue whether with me, the psychologist or dentist and either can't or won't speak.
 
brit

brit

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Thank you for your replies, it's such a relief to find I'm (or she's) not alone.

iDent - some interesting points. With regard to your second point, the only thing I can think of is that when Lucy was born, she had passed meconium in the womb so had a doctor standing by at her birth. She wasn't taken to special care of anything like that, but she did need to be sucked out with a tube. But I remember this taking all of a few minutes and was absolutely fine.

kitkat - I have tried asking her (gently) what frightens her but all I get is 'I don't know' then usually tears.The psychologist did say she has to be ready to get help and not force matters as you've said. But I do struggle with this (a bit) because surely having regular dental check-ups is as important as eating a healthy diet or getting enough sleep and as a parent you would make sure those things were happening wouldn't you?

Also, I don't know whether to stay with this dentist or try someone new. He has been fantastic with her and I'm extremely grateful to him for his patience but in practice, I don't think he's ever had a patient as scared as her (the first time we went she hid behind the sofa in the waiting room, we thought she'd run away). There is a recommendation on this forum of a dentist who is very close to where I live and they actually specialise in phobic patients. I spoke to them on the phone and they suggested I bring her in just for a chat. But I don't know whether to do this or stick where we are where she's starting to build up a relationship (albeit a poor one at the moment).

She seems to clam up talking about the issue whether with me, the psychologist or dentist and either can't or won't speak.
As you are in London, can I suggest you try Jenny Pinder - I'm thinking she may cope better with a lady dentist who also happens to be a psychologist? Is that who you had in mind?
I am worried already that your psychologist is suggesting she is not really afraid and that it is a control thing. It is a control thing for nearly all people who are scared of the dentist. They are afraid of having no control over what the dentist might do and not being able to stop them if they need a break or if sth hurts after the anaesthetic. This is entirely logical. Being told what is to happen is not enough. She is 11 so can be reasoned with, she needs to give her consent for things to happen as they happen, not a blanket one-off consent and she needs to know she can call a halt at any time. It sounds like the dentist you have tried has done his best which is maybe why she needs someone who is more experienced in actually helping phobics.
If she actually doesn't need any urgent treatment, then you have plenty of time to go slowly at her pace under her control.

Who/Why was a dental impression being done at school? Does she need braces? There is no way they should have forced her like that.

Hats off to you for taking her issues so seriously. I really think the answer is in her making friends with the dentist...just having a chat informally..no rush. This is expensive but worth it provided the connection can be made.

Another dentist who can probably help her is Mike Gow but he is in Glasgow. Easyjet flights are not that expensive. You can email him for advice in any event.
Let us know how it goes and keep in touch.
By the way, she is not 'going to the duh duh dentist', she is going to see her friend Jenny/Mike who is a nice dentist and there is no rush.
Please take some time to read the whole 'Common Fears' section and then see if you can identify what her main issues might be.
 
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brit

brit

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What a relief to find this site!
This is my situation: my 11 year old daughter suffers from this phobia and has done pretty much all her life. She said 'no dentist' aged 2 when we took her for her first check up and didn't even know what a dentist was. My husband and I are both fine about the dentist so she wasn't picking anything up so we're flummoxed where this fear came from.
The answer may well lie in what happened at all her dental appointments from this one at age 2 to when she stopped going. The reluctance at age 2-3 is picked up from the stiff starchy atmosphere most likely, an idea that this might be like the GP where I get an injection (vaccination) and extremely common.
Were you always present? Please think back and detail any possible negatives.
If you were not present then something likely happened to her or the dentist spoke in a scary authoritarian way or hurt her or sth negative. If she saw rushed NHS dentists then again not surprising she became more and more afraid if no positive relationship of trust was ever developed or if her NHS dentist changed frequently (also common) -not good for reluctant attenders as they have to start from square one every time.
 
G

gettingthere

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Poor Lucy. I can really sense your love and concern for your daughter in your posts and really hope that a way forward is found to help both Lucy herself and the rest of the family as this must be taking its toll.


2.) Was Lucy a NICU baby who may have needed a ventilator and/or nasogastric (NG) feeding tube, or did she ever require either of these things as an older child, such as during and after surgery or during a prolonged hospitalization? Even if she was too young to remember, she may have an unpleasant physical (rather than conscious) memory of objects invading her oral cavity, which could contribute to her dental phobia. This is purely hypothetical speculation on my part: I was a preemie in the late 1960s, and although my oxygen therapy was not administered by ventilator, I know I had an NG feeding tube for the first few weeks. I've always wondered if this is one reason of many why I've disliked dentistry since childhood.
Just wanted to interject here, although it doesn’t sound as if this is at the root of Lucy’s fear, because lately I have been wondering about this exact issue. I don’t know the exact details of my birth and early days as my mother has always refused to talk about it but I do know that I was premature and in NICU for the first 3-4 weeks. My sister has spoken about all the tubes and things in me and I have wondered if this has been at the root of the medical phobia that has plagued me my whole life. I literally cannot remember when I was not afraid of doctors/nurses/clinical situations so it is interesting to find someone who has a similar hypotheses. I have recently been talking to a medical doctor who has a particular interest in “body memories” and agreed that although difficult to ever know for sure, it is certainly not a theory to be dismissed when looking at origins of phobias.

My own feeling about Lucy’s situation goes back to one of my favourite(!) themes and pet hates when it comes to dentistry – and that is media and societal portrayals of dental treatment. Even if you and your husband are fine about dental appointments, could Lucy have picked up negativity from films, tv programmes or even just hearing other people talking. Had she seen Finding Nemo, for example before her first dental appointment? There are so many instances or unnecessarily graphic dental scenes in children’s programming and even those which are not overtly horrific can still seem scary to a child who has no prior experience or knowledge of dental offices through the depicting of white, sterile, hushed and somewhat authoritative environments. Just recently I posted on this site, my frustrations at seeing my nephew go from slightly curious but pretty nonchalant about his first dental appointment to absolutely terrified because relatives kept “reassuring” him that it wouldn’t hurt. We often think that this is the best way to pre-empt a child’s distress but in reality the notion of pain may not have entered their head until someone – with good intentions – put it there. In addition, only earlier this week I was unfortunately privy to two women loudly talking on a bus about dentistry “Ooh I really hate dentists, but what can you do about it?/the last time I was there the needle was this big/he just kept yanking as if he wanted to pull my head off…./of course it serves you right for not brushing properly” I was torn between wanting to tell them to shut up :mad: and also wanting to tell them it doesn’t have to be this way and giving the same of my very nice and gentle dentist. I am sure that lots of children must pick up on this type of thing and it has to colour their perceptions of dentistry before they have even set foot in the office.

So what can you do about it? The most important piece of advice I can give is to keep being a loving a supportive mum. If I could change anything about my own upbringing it would be to have been able to turn to either of my parents with these fears and anxieties and have them try to help me through it without ridiculing me or getting angry and forcing me into the dentist’s chair when I was clearly in a state of terror. I cannot tell you what I would have given to have parents who actively sought to contact different dentists to fine someone with whom I would be comfortable so please do not stop doing what you are already doing for your daughter.

Like Brit, I am concerned that the psychologist seems to be dismissing the issues as control rather than fear as the two things are most definitely linked and both equally important to be addressed. I think going to see the phobia-specialist dentist named on this site is a great idea. You say Lucy is beginning to build up a relationship with the current dentist but perhaps this is an ideal opportunity to but the notion of choice and control firmly in her hands by letting her meet another dentist and then allowing her to choose and be completely honest about which practice feels more comfortable to her. This could be a big step forward and could get her to the point where she wants to be helped? Again, as Brit mentioned, eleven is not too young to have Lucy fully involved as a partner in her own care so any discussions with dentists should involve her at an appropriate level and not be had “over her head”

My reading of the mouthguard fitting at school was that this was a non-dental issue – perhaps for sport or similar? I could understand therefore why Lucy may have felt more able to have this done if she did not have to fear anyone actually checking or commenting on her teeth but the fact that she was still upset to a degree does point to her having issues over control and bodily autonomy.

Wishing you all the very best of luck. Please continue to update us.
 
L

Lucy's mum

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Thank you so much for taking the time to reply, I really appreciate it.

When we started taking her to the dentist we took her to our local dentist where my husband and I had been patients for years. She is an excellent dentist although whilst she is quite good with little ones, I don't think she is particularly good with older children.

From about the age of 7-10, I remember Lucy making a huge fuss even about sitting in the chair. Because I didn't realise at that stage (nor did the dentist) how big a problem it had become, we both became a little exasperated. The dentist also compared Lucy unfavourably to her younger sisters who were complying which probably didn't do much good.

I don't really remember much of what happened between 2 and 7.

Around this time, Lucy would sometimes cry at night-time and write me notes which she would leave on my bed. The notes talked about the dentist being a place of doom and when the dentist approached she felt invaded (I'm paraphrasing).

So after a few years of this, we decided to have a clean start and take the 3 of them to this children's dentist. It's a bit further to travel and as I said above, he has been fantastically patient with Lucy but is not really used to such phobic children. My husband and I still go to the local dentist.

I saw the psychologist on Tuesday for a de-briefing (without Lucy). I asked her what she thought about it being a genuine fear or a control thing. She said in her opinion it was a mixture of both. The fear is genuine but it's also got caught up in the confusing time of puberty and approaching adolescence and she thinks hanging on to the fear is Lucy's way of staying like a little girl. She also said about Lucy's extreme reluctance to speak, that that was unusual. She said phobic children are usually only too pleased to tell her about it but Lucy remained highly uncommunicative.

As Lucy is now reluctant to see the psychologist for the time being, she suggested that I became the therapist and suggested a programme of densensitisation. This would involve taking v small steps resulting in eventually Lucy opening her mouth enough for me to look in with a torch and touch a back tooth. So first step would be her to open her mouth with me in the room, then to open her mouth for me to have a quick look, then using a torch and so on. Until she's comfortable with ME looking in her mouth.

Lots of you on here have dentist recommendations which have been really helpful so thank you. But there is a local practice to me (about half a mile away amazingly!) which specialises in phobic patients. When I spoke to them on the phone, they suggested that initially I bring Lucy in just for a chat. The advantage of it being so local is that if I'm going to do this in v gradual steps, it's much more convenient and achievable. It's on a main road that we often drive along so I could start (for example) by pointing out the surgery a few times.

I would be really grateful for your opinions on whether this sounds like a good idea.
 
L

Lucy's mum

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Forgot to say about the mouthguard: they have to be fitted with one for playing lacrosse. The psychologist was v surprised that Lucy went through with this as it is quite invasive and involves taking an impression. But when I asked Lucy about it, she said she didn't feel she had a choice and they sort of prised her mouth open. But she couldn't have put up that much resistance, or surely it would have been assault? If someone clamps their mouth shut, you can't open it can you?

The dentist local to me is called Lennie Bernstein at the Family Dental Centre: http://familydentalcarestanmore.co.uk/
 
brit

brit

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The dentist local to me is called Lennie Bernstein at the Family Dental Centre: http://familydentalcarestanmore.co.uk/
Hmm obviously being so close to you is wonderful and it may be worth a go BUT the website raises a few questions. They say they specialise in helping phobics but not how. The older guy has sedation listed (this is not what your daughter needs i.m.h.o.) - my concern would be is he willing to just chat and build the relationship? I would bet that she just needs a check up and at worst would only need a tiny filling as treatment if anything.
Given that her first dentist was a female and that she has not been willing to speak to a female psychologist, maybe a male dentist is the way to go for her. The younger dentist looks like he might appeal to a teenager but not clear he is the phobia one.
From the photos though it looks like a white starchy environment on the one photo on there, which may be one of her triggers, perhaps you could visit first and see if the place has a relaxed atmosphere because I am sure a relaxed atmosphere is what most phobics need and if they had always had it, they would likely not become phobic in the first place other things being equal.

What Gettingthere said was excellent, let her interview a couple of new dentists and then choose, it gives her control. She could also choose to stick with the guy she knows but would then have to resume visits.
Peter Pan theory is interesting but hard to see how psychologist has gleaned anything much as your daughter has not answered her questions.

Why can you not remember what happened in that time gap? Was her dentist always the lady one during this time, until you switched to the children's place?

The notes she left you are very strange...I have never heard that described before by any poster on here - sth has triggered that, either actual bad experiences or vicarious learning as Gettingthere said.....I think it is more likely bad experiences though, when you weren't present or when the lady dentist became exasperated with her. By leaving them on your bed she was making a definite effort to alert you to the problem..but you need to dig deeper.

I think the de-sensitisation stuff for you to work on her with a torch is a bit early - can she brush he teeth without gagging? She may not trust you either in that role. It would be better to find her Mr/Miss Right Dentist and let them advise. Sedation is not the answer though as there is no evidence she needs any treatment anyway. Most kids don't need fillings these days.
Hope this helps - I think giving her limited choice in which dentist she sees might be the way forward. She may go for a chat or a listen with the new local one and hate him on sight or she may adore him...it is worth a try.
Also is he used to phobic children or just adults who want sedation?
Good luck.
 
brit

brit

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If someone clamps their mouth shut, you can't open it can you?
Well funnily enough, bad dentists have been known to pinch nostrils to force young patients to open.
Don't assume she has always been treated excellently while receiving care at a distance from you.
 
brit

brit

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The dentist also compared Lucy unfavourably to her younger sisters who were complying which probably didn't do much good.

I don't really remember much of what happened between 2 and 7.

Around this time, Lucy would sometimes cry at night-time and write me notes which she would leave on my bed. The notes talked about the dentist being a place of doom and when the dentist approached she felt invaded (I'm paraphrasing).
The use of the word 'complying' indicates that this dentist was/is of an authoritarian nature. Dentistry is an elective thing and the best dentists make it easy for us to go along by being extremely kind, welcoming and nice to us and by learning painless techniques for everything. They also wear colours like blue not the dreaded white and have pleasant premises with lots of distractions.
http://www.dentalfearcentral.org/help/psychology/distraction/
 
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gettingthere

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I don’t think it is particularly strange or unusual to not be able to remember the 2-7 period. Behaviour patterns only become patterns when you are looking for them and if dental phobia had not affected any of the family members previously, I think the OP could be forgiven for assuming and probably hoping these were isolated events every 6 months until the pattern became too obvious to ignore or when the fussing got worse and the notes started appearing at age 7.

I think the notes can be taken as a really good sign – does she still do this? To me this shows that she really trusts you as her mother and wants to be able to open up and allow you to help her even if she lacks the tools to be able to do this properly at the moment. I wonder if responding with a note of your own might be worth a try. Something along the lines of:

Dear Lucy

I understand how scared you are of visiting the dentist (perhaps use the dentist’s name here rather than the anonymous phrase) and I want to help you. I understand it is difficult to talk about this but want you to know that when you are ready, I’ll be here and willing to discuss all your fears with you. I won’t criticise or judge but will be here for you to talk to and together, we will help you overcome the fear.

Please understand that as your mother I worry about your health, which includes your dental health. It is very important to stay dentally healthy and I will always want the best in life for you so for this reason I do think it is important to visit a dentist regularly and hope that you understand this. If you need me to be your advocate in the dental office, I will do this but I need to understand what you are afraid of any why so that I can tell the dentist how to treat you comfortably.

I’m glad you feel you can write me these notes to explain how you feel and don’t want you to ever think you cannot turn to me. We can talk about this when you are ready and I will always be here to help you.

Lots of love

Lucy’s Mum


I hate to sound like I am bashing the Psychologist’s opinions here as she is obviously far more qualified than I and both you and she are doing the right thing in taking this approach to helping Lucy but I do have concerns about this particular psychologist’s understanding of phobias and in particular, dental phobia. Is she a phobia specialist? I’m coming at this with a background in counselling and am a bit perturbed by the comment about other children with phobias being happy to talk about it – certainly in my opinion and having worked with teenagers, when there is really a problem bothering people, they tend to clam up. Especially with dental phobia, there is a real fear of ridicule and non-understanding from others so I don’t think the reluctance to talk is in any way indicative of her phobia being more “strange” than others. I would also worry about the Peter Pan theory (cheers, Brit!) as this, to me, screams of the kind of attitude where people (especially medical professionals) seem to think that this kind of fear is normal in children but that we will all grow out of it. This is at the root of the ridicule that many adult dental phobics fear and I, for one, have had many experiences in clinical situations where I have been told that “this kind of behaviour is expected of children but not you…” Of course, if the fear is not managed in childhood, it will stay with a person so the logic is flawed. I am just unsure, from what you have said, that this particular psychologists really understands the anxiety Lucy feels and if Lucy has picked up on her confusion over this, it will add to her reluctance to talk.

With regards the mouthguard, don’t forget to factor in compliance in front of peers which can account for Lucy perhaps not wanting to make a big scene as she may have done in a dental office but also does not mean that she found it easy or did not feel invaded afterwards. I “got through” school vaccinations without screaming because I was in front of my schoolfriends and was afraid of the ridicule but in many ways found that even harder than had I been in private and “allowed” to cry and express my fears – for that reason I tend to look back on these experiences as being “forced” even though nobody held me down or anything like that. Perhaps she did clamp her mouth shut but when the person taking the impression put her hands on her face to try to open her jaws, she may have complied to avoid getting into trouble or being mocked but in hindsight now feels that her mouth was prised open against her will.
 
L

Lucy's mum

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Thank you everyone.

Gettingthere - I agree with much of what you say. The mouthguard thing - I think there WAS huge peer pressure. And the fact she's a good, well-behaved child and has just started at secondary school and probably didn't want to make a fuss.

I too wasn't 100% happy with the psychologist. I took her in the first place as I have seen her before with my younger daughter about another issue and found her to be very good. She has been practising a long time and is v experienced and I was expecting her to be 'the person' to help Lucy. But maybe not. Another thing I objected to (although I didn't voice it) was that she asked Lucy if she had started her periods yet. Lucy was v reluctant to answer and didn't want me to answer either. The psychologist gleaned from this that Lucy is uncomfortable about medical things in general and about growing up. But, to be honest, if someone would have asked me that question aged 11, I would have been mortified even without a phobia.

About the notes: she hasn't written any for a long time. In the last few years, the subject has just become something that we don't talk about. I do like the idea of writing her a note though.

I'm confused about the best course of action now - do I do what the psychologist suggested ie building up to Lucy letting ME look in her mouth? (she suggested a system of rewards and possible sanctions). Or do I take Lucy to the new dentist for a chat with regard to letting her choose the dentist? Or do I write her the note and do absolutely nothing at all until she's ready?​
 
carole

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Hello I would just like to add my two peneth here. As a phobic/nervous patient it is nothing to do with not wanting to grow up for me. The thought of any family member or none dental person looking in my mouth is a no go for me. It is my space, I like to keep the dentist in his/her own little box in my mind. I don't even like a doctor looking in my mouth.

I do feel like a different person at the dentist, and it is something I have to deal with every 6 months, or more often if treatment is needed. The rest of the time I can be my usual self and try and put it to the back of my mind.

I think the fact that your daughter was forced physically by the school to have this guard in an embarrasing situation is terrible. I don't know how your daughter has dealt with this in her mind or how she has got over it. Something that you might now be aware of is that sometimes people, myself included have flash backs of treatment, good or bad. I can even dream or just be sat and relive the appointment, the feelings I feel are the same as they were in the dentist chair. Even when it has been a good visit. I don't know where this comes from or why it happens.

I would encourage your daughter to go and see the new dentist just for a talk, nothing else as a first visit should ideally be a meet and greet anyway in my book.

I would see as many dentists as is required for your daughter to feel there is one that she could build up a trusting relationship with. It may be a slow process and they must move at a pace that is right for your daughter, and one she feels she can cope with.

I wish you well and I hope you can find a way to help your daughter, I think just patience which you have shown in many ways over the years is the way to go. Don't give up trying to help her.

I have been phobic all my life, and to this day I fight it, I am 54 now. I do find dentists that I can get treatment by, but when they leave I have to start again which is hard but it can be done.

I did have my tonsils out when I was five and also when I was about 12 the hospital numbed my nose with a spray to cauterise my nose because I suffered bad nose bleeds. When they did this it numbed my throat and frightened me half to death as I felt I couldn't swallow and paniced. I don't think this helped my phobia. So people on here may be onto something when they say other treatments can effect how we feel about dental treatment. It has made me think.

I really feel for you as a mother :grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:
 
brit

brit

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I'm confused about the best course of action now - do I do what the psychologist suggested ie building up to Lucy letting ME look in her mouth? (she suggested a system of rewards and possible sanctions). Or do I take Lucy to the new dentist for a chat with regard to letting her choose the dentist? Or do I write her the note and do absolutely nothing at all until she's ready?​
Maybe a bit of everything is the answer. Despite re-reading I wasn't clear how far the Childrens' Dentist got with her. Is she willing to let him look and I am assuming she has had several appts and there has now been a gap in attendence?
Maybe write your own version of the letter but suggesting that you/she/we do/does the research now to find a dentist (male or female) she is happy with and point out she probably doesn't need treatment anyway but as her Mother you would like the reassurance that all is well dentally as there has been this gap.

Tell her she can be in charge of what happens - just a chat to decide who she likes best - then just a mirror can be used at later visit, nothing else to just establish whether there is anything drastic (probably isn't if she has been brushing).
X-rays are not the be all and end all at this age - visual should give dentist a good idea whether there is any urgency (doubt there is).

Like Carole I don't see how you poking around in her mouth will help unless the gag reflex is the issue and it is sth she needs to acclimatise herself to. http://www.dentalfearcentral.org/fears/gagging/ Again if no treatment is needed, this is not such an issue anyway.

Maybe take a break over the Holiday period and tackle it again early in New Year. Probably my last visit to DFC pre 2013 so all the best.:xmastree:
 
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brit

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Can't keep away lol. Would your daughter be willing to write down all her dental appt memories? If she'd rather not talk about them to you or the psychologist. Certainly adult phobics find this carthartic and useful as it helps pinpoint what their 'triggers' are. Would also be useful document for any dentist trying to help her.
You could start with 'my earliest dental memory' and so on.
 
carole

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I think what brit said was a good idea about the writing things down, or maybe give her something she can record onto in her own time and in private. Then later you can both listen to what she had said or written, she may find writing everything down too much. If she tapes her feelings and records her memories over time it may help her later on to identify what bothers her so much. I have to go now but I wish you and your daughter a good and Happy Christmas.

:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug::xmastree::xmastree::xmastree:
 
Kim

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I'm going to jump in as a total non knowing about owt person, but the thought of anyone looking into my mouth would really freak me out at that age - least of all my parent/s - least of all a person who in some kind of way 'pushed' me into something being done that I really didn't want to be done.

I have never been asked to write down anything about what happened to me when I was younger - I don't even expect that it would have been the done thing what so ever, but what a good idea in this day and age - I am so much better for being able to do that now - hence the verbal diarrhea at times - sorry -

Ali had a Psychologist a few years back when she was then diagnosed with OCD - he then passed her over to one of his 'locum's' or a person who only stayed for a bit. She was cold - did a lot of staring and I watched Ali clam up - got to the stage that Ali was asked to write out how she felt on a sort of time line thing - did she do it - yup - just in time for her next appointment, and not because of how she felt. Like everything else, there are good and bad in all, and you have to feel so totally comfortable with the person you are dealing with, whether it be a dentist, psychologist, doctor, all of that. And if you don't, then ask for another opinion. I really hope that you get the help that you need to see your daughter through all of this, as a mother you need it, as a daughter she deserves it xx
 
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gettingthere

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Thank you everyone.

Gettingthere - I agree with much of what you say. The mouthguard thing - I think there WAS huge peer pressure. And the fact she's a good, well-behaved child and has just started at secondary school and probably didn't want to make a fuss.

I too wasn't 100% happy with the psychologist. I took her in the first place as I have seen her before with my younger daughter about another issue and found her to be very good. She has been practising a long time and is v experienced and I was expecting her to be 'the person' to help Lucy. But maybe not. Another thing I objected to (although I didn't voice it) was that she asked Lucy if she had started her periods yet. Lucy was v reluctant to answer and didn't want me to answer either. The psychologist gleaned from this that Lucy is uncomfortable about medical things in general and about growing up. But, to be honest, if someone would have asked me that question aged 11, I would have been mortified even without a phobia.

About the notes: she hasn't written any for a long time. In the last few years, the subject has just become something that we don't talk about. I do like the idea of writing her a note though.

I'm confused about the best course of action now - do I do what the psychologist suggested ie building up to Lucy letting ME look in her mouth? (she suggested a system of rewards and possible sanctions). Or do I take Lucy to the new dentist for a chat with regard to letting her choose the dentist? Or do I write her the note and do absolutely nothing at all until she's ready?​
I don't doubt for a second that the psychologist is very skilled at her job but as with most professions there are different specialties and from what you have said, I don/t think she had a firm understanding of treating phobias, especially in children. Re the period question I remember all the girls in my class being asked en masse whilst waiting for our rubella test at around that age, to put up our hands if we had started our periods. Of course not a single hand went up and the school nurse seemed quite satisfied. I was certainly lying and I know some friends were too but no pre-teen girl wants to admit this in that situation. Around the same time, a friend of mine was taken to hospital with suspected apendicitis and again replied in the negative to this question because she was embarrassed in front of a male doctor and room full of nurses. At that age you seek to protect yourself and your dignity/humility without realising why the question is being asked. Medical people can be intimidating that way.

Regarding the best course of action now, it is difficult and will probably come down to your own knowledge and understanding of how Lucy will react. If she has not been writing notes herself for a while, it might be a bit odd to re-start the practice yourself but on the other hand any communication is better than none and she might just be waiting for this kind fo gesture from you. I wonder if it would be worth just saying quite nonchalantly to her "remember when you used to leave me notes? I liked knowing what was on your mind and want to help with anything troubling you" then see if this helps open the communication, either in written form or verbally. I think asking her if she would be willing to allow you to look at her teeth would be an idea, don;t just spring the suggestion on her but let her consider if she would be willing to do this and be prepared to step back from this if she reacts badly. Certainly I would have hated my mother doing this but then she would have been very judgmental and if she wound anything untoward would have dragged me to the dentist before I had even closed my mouth, whereas you seem a lot more gentle and trustworthy :jump:. By the way, I think that the idea of rewards and sanctions is quite terrible. Lucy needs to do this for the right reasons if she is to gain confidence and control.

I still believe that allowing her to meet and choose from a limited selection of dentists is the way forward but the communication channels need to be opened first if she is to be able to move forward on this.
 
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