I cannot stress enough how important it is to be your child’s advocate, especially when you have a child with special needs. My experience this week is a reminder of that and hopefully an encouragement to parents that read this….
This week was Pierre’s annual dental check-up. For a typical child, it would consist of a cleaning, a goodie bag and they are on their way. Pierre has to be put under general anesthesia for his annual dental cleaning. I’ll save you the horrors of seeing your child confused about why he is feeling this way, fighting the sedation, and crying because he doesn’t understand what’s happening to him.
As usual, the Dentist came to speak with me before he went in to check out Pierre’s teeth and do the usual cleaning and x-rays. He tells me that he wants to remove all of Pierre’s wisdom teeth and he needs my consent. My response is, “Why would you advise removing his wisdom teeth, he doesn’t seem to be having any problems with them”? The dentist proceeds to tell me, his teeth are not fully emerged yet so now is a good time to remove them to avoid any issues in the future.
This was mind-boggling to me. I responded; “You would need to make incisions, open up his gums, take out his teeth, and stitch his gums back up correct?”
He said “yes”.
“Ok correct me if I’m wrong but genetics plays a role in how teeth are formed, correct”?
“Correct,” says the dentist. I then replied, “Pierre’s father and myself have near-perfect teeth, our wisdom teeth formed normally without any issues or removal necessary which would make the chances of Pierre having any issues are slim correct”?
Once more the dentist replied “Correct”.
I then proceed to explain the following. “Why would we put a severely autistic boy through excessive pain and suffering just because we THINK there might be an issue in the future”?
The most surprising part of the entire ordeal is that the dentist looked offended that I asked questions! I’ve seen that as a common occurrence especially with dealing with doctors, a lot of them get offended when you ask questions, which I will never apologize for.
I told the Dentist that I will NOT give consent to the removal of his wisdom teeth. I went on further to explain that even for a typical kid it would be a lot to deal with and I wouldn’t want to put him through unnecessary pain.
He replied “Ok”.
He came back to give me an update once the procedure was over and told me everything went well with Pierre. He was able to do the cleaning and get x-rays of Pierre‘s teeth and what do you know, his wisdom teeth were perfect! Perfect! There were no issues, they were not impacted, not crooked, not leaning on any other teeth, perfect!
Well, they were actually so perfect the dentist couldn’t even look me in the eye, figures.
I don’t know if it was shame or what. I said, “Would you look at that, his wisdom teeth are perfect!” I had a momentary feeling of anger towards the dentist at his audacity. As soon as I left, I sat in the car and cried.
I cried because I was happy that I stood my ground and spoke up for my son who can’t speak for himself.
As of today, just a few days after this ordeal; Pierre is experiencing kidney issues with a high probability of there being a link to the side effects of sedation. I cannot imagine what he would have had to endure getting all four of his wisdom teeth removed and the recovery process that comes with that.
Parents, never back down when advocating for your child. We must ask questions, do our research and make decisions based on facts, not emotion.
I share moments like these with our community to hopefully encourage others and to let you know you are not alone. Advocacy is not optional.