Robyn Coburn

We went to see the lady in Santa Monica (number three in the Surgeon search)
on Wednesday arriving in plenty of time. I was surprised that the office was
so�.officey. Not painted fun or with posters, but there were toys.

So Jayn was equally negative and refused to open her mouth, saying
repeatedly that she just wanted to go home. Again I think it was partly
tiredness, however I have been observing, talking to Jayn and thinking hard,
and I believe I have gotten to the "root" of the issue.

As soon as the dentist saw that Jayn was reluctant she said to her that
James and I would have to go out unless Jayn got in the chair and opened her
mouth. So unfortunately she began by making a threat, that I was certainly
startled by given the talking up we had received, and not remotely prepared
to back up.

It was a mistake that Jayn was not prepared to forgive. Instead I took Jayn
to the bathroom to talk it over with her. She sort of agreed to let the
doctor look, but then changed her mind in the hallway saying she did not
like the dentist. She sat on my lap and cried a lot. We tried looking at
photos, and the dentist talked about her two daughters, but the damage had
been done.

James talked to her while Jayn and I were out, and explained more about our
parenting philosophy. I think part of the problem is in the phrases along
the lines of "meet the dentist". Jayn is viewing that as saying hello,
chatting, shaking hands, talking. The dentists are seeing "just saying hi"
as a consultation where Jayn immediately sits in the chair and opens her
mouth but no procedures are done.

The dentist today made a lot of suggestions about buying a little mirror and
playacting being at the dentist with Jayn at home so that she could get used
to the idea. That would be fine, except that that is not the problem. Jayn
was perfectly fine with everything that was done last week - polishing,
suction, scraping, fluoride application, flossing, pointy tools, a full set
of x-rays plus one extra of the bad tooth, 3 different people in her mouth.
She also shows me her mouth all the time, and lets me feel, and help her
with Ambesol (pain relief).

No, the root of the problem is *not* that Jayn fears the dentist, or even
any idea of pain, which we have repeatedly assured her will be prevented.

What Jayn is fearing is the loss of her autonomy - being forced to accept
treatment from someone she doesn't like or hasn't chosen - so she is
fighting hard.

I think that James and I have been making it more stressful than we should,
by not listening to Jayn's "no" immediately and leaving immediately.

All the docs have given us the impression that it would very fast, but their
rationale seems to be that the brevity or simplicity of the surgery
justifies rushing Jayn through the preliminary stuff and pushing her along,
as if it were all fuss over nothing. Unfortunately I think I have allowed
that attitude to permeate my *cajoling and persuasions* with her, something
that I became determined to STOP now.

We have decided to express it this way, more simply and clearly:

Jayn *must* have this work done. She has the choice, within certain
parameters like geography and ever decreasing time frame, of *who* will do
the work. We will respect her choice to leave at once, which was our error
and I apologized already to her, and talk over the different places

This is how I approached her medicine. She *has to* take it, but she has the
choice of how to make it more palatable.

What she wants is to go back to the original place, or, her next ingenious
solution, for the nice ladies to come to the next dentist's place. Hmmm,
maybe that would not be totally impossible if we had enough money to achieve
it. However James is pretty irritated with that place because he feels that
the other place has a policy of sending the really traumatic stuff out so
that they stay the nice, happy place - unlike that idea of bringing someone
in once a month as some other folk do.

Sooooo, we next have an *afternoon* (yay) appointment with my SIL's dentist,
who we will be meeting, and we have explained to Jayn, getting her to
reflect back to us so we knew she understood, that it really must include
sitting in the chair and opening her mouth.

We have yet one more lady referral from the dentist today if this doesn't
work out, but we have explained to Jayn that her options are really and
truly running out. We expect that this next place will have more of a happy

I'm beginning to think that the best idea would have been to schedule a
dozen or more purely walk in and say hello (literally) visits with a bunch
of unlikely candidates, until Jayn got all her "no's" out. I had been so
misguidedly reassured by her great experience/behavior at the first office
that I assumed her willingness would continue.


The next section I entitled Eureka when I posted on my local list � a place
where people are always looking for nice, genuinely kid friendly dentists.

I have found a lovely, RESPECTFUL lady ped dentist � full service in her
office - with what may be the coolest kid friendly waiting room in all

The waiting room features a tree in the corner with the kids play area being
a tree house where they climb up a kid size spiral staircase to find a
little kitchen, and then a basement going down below the main floor with two
little cubby hole rooms - and another little kitchen. The ceilings and walls
are painted with the branches and leaves of said tree with little surprises
in the painting like butterflies and a wormy apple. There are also a wide
age range selection of loose toys, a video monitor that was playing a
classic family film when we arrived, and an arcade style computer game stand
down a little hall so that it was visible from the waiting area but not
intrusive or loud. They also have a nice selection of current issue
magazines for the adults and a clean restroom right in there (instead of
down the hall by the elevator and don't forget the key).

Just inside the reception area is a the "Magic Prize Tree", another tree
with a glassed in cupboard with far and away the coolest prizes we have seen
yet - no tatty 99 cent store trash here! Jayn chose a lovely princess crown
with marabou feathers on it before she even realized that it had colored
moving lights that work in it.

Jayn was immediately entranced upon entry and dashed off to play. We went
early, to fill out the now very familiar paperwork and to let Jayn
acclimatize, which was the only reason why we met up with another patient -
two boys including one with autism who seemed very happy and familiar with
the place. We had an hour scheduled. The receptionist was friendly, kindly
and altogether gave me the impression that she couldn't be happier in her

The dentist *came out* to the waiting room to meet us. That in itself is
extraordinary. She sat with us *in the waiting room* to talk over the recent
situation and get to know Jayn. When Jayn came over and the dentist wanted
to touch her cheek, Jayn instantly opened her mouth wide and the dentist had
to ask her to close it. :-) Jayn let her find the sore spot on her face.
Jayn answered all her questions happily. I'm starting to cry (again) just
remembering how wonderful it was after the bad experiences with Oral

We went in back to the examining room, which is very open plan seeming.
There are only two rooms, divided by a partition. On the wall was a framed
Barbie dentist with Kelly in a seat that Jayn enjoyed seeing. On the ceiling
was a DVD monitor playing "Beauty and the Beast". We were invited to bring
our own DVD next time if we wished. There were enough chairs for both James
and I to sit with her in the room.

Jayn hopped into the chair without difficulty and opened her mouth. The
dentist had the idea that Jayn was timid, but I think we were able to
explain that it was the other dentists that Jayn hadn't liked or trusted -
not the procedures in general or the idea of dentistry.

The tooth will definitely have to come out. The dentist's plan is to do IV
sedation with an injection initially (she and James had a long talk about
all the kinds of drugs which he has a great knowledge about with names I had
never heard of) and do *all* the work including the fillings she needs in
one go - only about a gazillion times less traumatic. She has an anesthetist
come in, who ironically happens to be the wife of James and my adult
dentist. (Why the *#%**^%# he suggested some guy other than this lady will
be a mystery for the ages...)

She also asked Jayn directly if she understood that she needed her tooth to
come out and would she be willing to come back. Jayn just said "yes".

One problem is the increasing urgency, because the swelling began to return
yesterday. I think that it is partly because of our bad sleep schedule I
have had trouble getting the antibiotic dose into her often enough to be
fully effective. We have moved to a different stronger one (with a better
flavor - it's like every little thing is better here).

Here is some more that makes me just love this woman! She was a little
concerned about the infection, especially since she is not familiar with
Jayn�s face shape or skin color. She was the only person to warn us to
monitor Jayn's temperature and call our doctor if she raised a fever. Of
course I know this but what if I hadn't? Other people had an agenda (force
Jayn) when they spoke of the dangers of untreated infection; she talked
about it without trying to be scary if that makes sense. The only thing that
will sour this deal is if Jayn's infection makes a dramatic upsurge towards
her eye.

After we left, she phoned our pediatrician, with whom she is familiar, to
let him know what was happening - tbh I hadn't thought to do so. Come to
think of it, he may have been able to refer us to her a long time ago! They
conferred on the dosage and the medication and she phoned the script in to
our local pharmacy, another small gesture towards our convenience. Then she
called James' cel phone to ask us to come back sooner, and call the doctor.
Tomorrow we are going in again in the afternoon so that she can check the
swelling, and stop by with our doctor up the road - who Jayn loves.

Was this paragon of wonder extraordinarily expensive, you ask? Why no. She
has quoted less than HALF the price of the other guy who would have an
anesthetist come in for the extraction. Her consultation and examination was
$20 LESS than the last lady in Santa Monica who never looked in Jayn's
mouth. Yes the procedure will cost more with the fillings and a sealer for
all her teeth, but still less than the FOUR other visits that the first
clinic proposed and quoted for - not counting the spacer tooth.

Jayn didn't want to leave.


When I told Jayn that we were returning to the dentist sooner she was
elated. She wouldn�t leave until she had given her a big hug.

She was also happy to see her doctor and did a bunch of dancing and statues
for him. The good news is that her swelling is receding. The new antibiotic
is much nicer tasting too, and Jayn actually guzzles it in milk (every
little thing is better). Our surgery is scheduled for Monday 26th, and I now
have pretty much no fears. BTW there was *no charge* for the drop in visit,
even though we did still go back and sit in the chair.

When we told our doctor about the other surgeons� impatience he was kind of
baffled � �But Jayn�s so easy!� he said.

Sure, if she trusts and likes you. Sure, when you have protocols in place to
make the child feel comfortable. Sure, if you make the long term
relationship the priority � hence the lack of that in Oral Surgeons who are
a sporadic person in a patient�s life (hopefully).

The last installment follows after I play Barbies with Jayn for a while,
where I talk about my personal �woulda/coulda/shouldas� that would be my
suggestions for people in similar situations.

Robyn L. Coburn

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