• Dental Phobia Support

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Traumatized Girlfriend

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strugglinggf

Junior member
Joined
Sep 28, 2020
Messages
1
Location
Florida
I have joined this forum in a desperate attempt for help. To start, my girlfriend is autistic. She always does awful with anything medical and I normally have to accompany her through anything such as check-ups, blood draws, etc. so I can make sure she stays calm and doesn’t have a meltdown. She does visit the dentist regularly, but she’s always hated every minute of it and I normally have to drag her into the office. Her teeth are, by no means, neglected. Recently we moved from Colorado to Florida. This meant adjusting everything. My girlfriend has had a horrible time adjusting and at one point, was having meltdowns every day because her routine and normal life had changed so much. On top of all this, we had to switch dentists.

She was completely against the idea of seeing a new dentist, so I had her help me choose her a new one. After hours of reading reviews, we decided on one that seemed nice and accommodating. She was only going for a routine cleaning. Of course, she was very anxious and there were lots of tears and panic the day before. I can only describe the day of as nothing but hell. If you are triggered by horrible dentists, please stop reading.

I knew something was off at the very beginning. She filled out her paperwork, sat down beside me, and seemed to be okay until her name was called. I stood up first, assuming I would be allowed back, but no. A very curt hygienist told me I couldn’t go back with my terrified girlfriend, who was visibly shaking and crying. I stood my ground and insisted, but still was told to sit down and wait. At this point my girlfriend was freaking out. Somehow, the hygienist coaxed her off of me and got her to go back all by herself.

My girlfriend’s cleanings have always taken longer than the average cleaning, considering she asks for frequent breaks and it is a lot harder for most dentists to brush her teeth as she’ll bite down when anxious and thrash around quite a bit. I started worrying after about forty five minutes with no word on my girlfriend or how she was doing. I asked the receptionist if she could check, and she did, and came back saying she was doing good, but had a small cavity in one of her upper molars that they were going to fill.

God knows how long passes, and my girlfriend stumbles out of the exam room with gauze shoved in her mouth and tears streaming down her face. I’m horrified. The hygienist tries to tell me it was only a cleaning and a filling, but that didn’t at all explain why my girlfriend was sobbing in the middle of a waiting room and gagging on a mouthful of cotton.

I finally calm my gf down after hours of relentless tears and hyperventilating. What was apparently a “quick cleaning and filling” was a whole staff of nurses holding down my petrified girlfriend while they did their work. The gauze was in her mouth because her gums were SO. BLOODY. from the poking and scraping they did with no numbing! They used a bite block to hold her mouth open during the filling, and she says she could feel every bit of the drilling. Not to mention, they apparently threatened her with strapping her down to a papoose board. She says the whole time she was screaming and crying for me but no one would listen. It’s been a week, and she’s been having nightmares about the whole thing too. This has also started a sensory issue with brushing her teeth.

I’m heartbroken. I should have taken her out of that office the minute they said I couldn’t go back with her. This has sparked an even worse phobia of the dentist. Yesterday, a toothpaste commercial set in a dentist office came on and she got shaky and began to tear up. I don’t know how the heck I’ll ever get her to a dentist again. Any advice and support would be helpful.
 
Enarete

Enarete

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 18, 2017
Messages
3,244
Hi strugglinggf,

I don't even know what to say - your story makes me speechless, thinking of terms such as "informed consent" and how a dental treatment should look like legally. Did you have any chance to talk to anyone from the practice about what had happened? I was wondering whether your girlfriend gave the consent to have the tooth filled at all? And being treatenned by being strapped down? That doesn't sound like something a medical care professional is allowed to do..

To your girlfriend.. this is a very difficult situation and I am not familiar with autism. Her reaction to the toothpaste commercial doesn't sound like she is doing well. My only idea in this case would be to seek a mental health professional to find out how to help.

May I ask you how long ago the visit is and how is she doing otherwise? Also, how long ago is the visit?

All the best wishes?
 
Enarete

Enarete

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 18, 2017
Messages
3,244
.. this is me again.. I have been reflecting upon your story during the day and realized that I was focused on your girlfriend, but didn‘t comment much on how I thought you may feel now...

Suffering is difficult and seeing someone you love to suffer even more. There is a sense of regret and guit in your post and I see how you must feel responsible for what had happened - at least to a part, but let me tell you that you are not. How things went was extreme and you couldn‘t have seen this coming. It is easy to look back and say „I should have taken her out the minute they said I couln‘t go back with her,“ but really what had happened is so abnormal, there was no chance of considering this. Health care professionals and dentists have some obligations in respecting consent and have the responsibility to take care of people.. nobody could have known that the visit will end like this.

So just in case this crossed you mind, please let me tell you that you haven‘t done anything wrong and all you had in mind was protecting your girlfriend and helping her. If you can, please stay kind to yourself and don‘t beat yourself up.
 
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Thephilsblogbar

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 23, 2015
Messages
789
Location
United Kingdom
I also spechless, sorry to her about your girlfriend. I would have done the same thing and got her out the practice quickly.
 
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