I have an eleven-year-old girl we recently adopted from overseas. We tried taking her to the dentist last week and the minute anyone came near her with a dental tool, she began screaming. At some point, she ran out of the room and hid under the receptionist’s desk. I was mortified, but also very worried about our new daughter. I don’t know if she’s been through some trauma at the dentist before or elsewhere. They gave us very little information on her background. Is there anything you can recommend that would help us get her teeth looked at? I’m sure she has not had very good dental care where she came from.
Let me first say that I really admire what you are doing. Adopting any child is a big moment. Getting one from overseas comes with additional complications, especially if they don’t give you much information on the child’s background.
I don’t know if her trauma comes from a difficult dental appointment or something else, however, I do have some suggestions. What your new daughter needs is a good experience with a dentist. I would start by setting up a tour of the dental office. Assure her that they are not going to treat her. Instead, they are just going to show her around and introduce her to the staff. Make sure it is a practice that is used to dealing with children. Please also tell them about what you do know regarding her background and your fears of trauma. It does not necessarily have to be a pediatric dentist. There are general dentists who love treating children.
After she meets them, she will not be as afraid to walk in the door, which she probably will be right now after the last appointment. That is why I am recommending the tour with no treatment. Shortly after that is when you can work on getting her evaluated. It will probably require seeing a dentist who offers dental sedation. Given the severity of her anxiety, I suggest something strong such as oral conscious sedation. Eventually, you may be able to lower that to nitrous oxide. Right now, however, the important thing is that you get her teeth evaluated so you know what you are dealing with. The LAST thing she needs is to end up with a dental emergency.
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