Dental Trauma: The Doctor and his Wife Got on top of me, and I never went back!
Trauma. It’s a powerful powerful event in a person's’ life, which leaves them changed forever until they deal with it. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t.
When patients come to see us and have had a traumatic experience, we need to put our psychology hats on really quickly and listen. I almost wish I got more training on psychiatry/psychology in school and in residency, because it’s really crucial in our field - but then again, ten years of experience has taught me a lot.
CAUSES OF TRAUMATIC DENTAL CASES
- Self Neglect
- Physical Abuse
- Bad Dental Experiences
- Drug abuse
The above are some of the many instances that I see in my practice, and this one patient today has a mix of two of the above: Bad dental experience (as a child) and self-neglect.
She is 19 years old, and most of her back teeth are severely decayed. In fact, four of them were rotted to the gumline - yes, rotted! She’s incredibly lucky she hasn’t experienced severe pain.
However, it’s important to know that pain is a very good thing, in my opinion, it alarms you that something is very wrong and gets you the help you need in a timely manner. However, in the dental world, when severe pain comes along, it means that your problem is quite advanced.
How do I treat a patient like this?
This first appointment, I met her, took necessary x-rays and pictures, and LISTENED to her. In my professional and personal opinion, this is the most important meeting. This will determine whether she will come back or not. It gives me an opportunity to see the root cause of her problem because when a person has a cavity on every single tooth in their mouth and is that young - there’s a deeper issue.
She started speaking to me about self-image, and trauma as a child when two dentists - a husband and wife, pinned her down forcefully to do dental work. All she remembers is them getting on top of her, and working very forcefully. She expressed that she’s not happy with herself and that she needs to work on all aspects of her health, including mental.
I was so happy when she started opening up to me and telling me how she felt about her situation.
After a comprehensive exam, I showed her pictures of her teeth - which she refused to see at first.
Avoidance is how she has dealt with everything up to now but is underway to changing.
It’s going to be a long road to healing, but when there’s a will, there’s a WAY!
Much love and light,
Quote of the day
"We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them."
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