Sunday, February 24, 2013

A visit to the dentist

We brought C. to her annual dental check-up and once again we left with the great news of no cavities. Despite the cleaning she needed from the dental hygienist (several teeth already sported black rims of plaque), my brushing was awarded an A+.

Of course, the credit goes mostly to the triple-headed toothbrush I use. It was recommended to me by this same dental clinic at our last visit. Here it is on the right. 

This clinic is one of only two in our city that treat the cognitively and physically disabled, but it is the only one to do that without a general anesthetic. Instead, the patient is strapped down from neck to ankle in, well, I'm afraid there is no more appropriate word - a straight jacket (with velcro straps).

C. didn't mind it a bit, remained calm and cooperative.  The staff are gentle and kind, and charge similarly. Today, the clinic's regular low fee was reduced further -  the examination was free.

In the course of hunting for a photograph of the restraint used, I discovered that its use is very controversial. I had no idea that progressive dentistry deems it archaic and cruel and favors the use of anesthetics instead.

Medical Restraint Papoose Boards, from here
But I know that for many people with disabilities, particularly epileptics, that is risky. For them, the restraint  is a safer option. Which is why I didn't bring C. to a dentist until this pro-restraint clinic opened. You can read the anti-restraint argument here. And here's an excerpt:
"Why is physical restraint still acceptable for elective dentistry in our country? As was stated in previous editorials, it is difficult for people to accept change. Until we stop this brutal, archaic practice, those traumatized children will continue to grow up into adult dental phobics who, despite full-scope dental insurance, will continue to stay away from the dentist for as long as possible until they have pain worse than what they expect the dentist will cause, and dentistry will continue to be the universally recognized symbol for fear and pain, just as it was for centuries before Drs. Wells and Morton. We now must start the process to improve anesthetic availability in dentistry for the sake of our children and grandchildren, so there will be no need for physical restraint to have a cavity filled."

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