Dental Work — A Tale of Two Children;  One with Autism/Special Needs

This is a step-by-step summary showing how different dentist visits can be –depending upon which child we are talking about.  The vast difference in time and effort is mind boggling to me.   I wonder why I feel like I never have enough time in the day to get things done; but looking back at this “diary” I kept of this most recent dental experience….helps me understand why!

Child 1-  total of maybe 4 hours of time

1) Go to dentist, and x-rays show a cavity.

2) Make an appt to come back, show up and get it filled.


Child 2- total of “I lost track of how many hours!” 

(the following diary of this dental experience lapsed place over 4 months)

1) Go to dentist, and x-rays show a cavity.

2) Dentist gives options for sedation dentistry, or dental work at hospital under anesthesia.

3) Mull both of these options over for weeks with a pit in our stomachs trying to decide which is best.

4) After waiting many weeks, and parents not agreeing on path forward, we finally decide to do sedation dentistry. 

5) Call dentist office, they give referral to specialist.

6) Mom delays scheduling……….. and delays and delays and delays.

7) Eventually, parents discuss again and agree that the hospital route is the better option.

8) Mom calls dentist to inform about change in decision.

9) Get routed to surgical coordinator.  Exchange several phone calls trying to figure out what date is available at hospital.  It’s over a month away. (Happy in one way to mentally prepare – but Sad in another since I hope there isn’t any pain in the mouth that we don’t know about because of his high tolerance of pain).

10) Surgical coordinator confirms date and advises that we need to see pediatrician for a “physical” so he can be cleared for procedure.  In addition, we need to schedule time at hospital for pre-admission visit to talk with anesthesiologist.

11) Call pediatrician to schedule check-up that was supposed to be within 7 days of procedure, and all dates are booked -we have to do it 10 days before. 

12) Call dentist to make sure that timing is OK.  Thankfully it is good.

13) Take child to pediatrician for “physical”.

14) Wait for an hour for doctor to see you.

15) Take time to scan in the paperwork that the doctor’s office was supposed to fax to the dentist – but since they didn’t, it’s now one more thing you need to do.

16) Dentist calls to discuss procedure and you end up finding up the procedure might need to be more involved than you thought.  And you may need to reschedule with a specialist. (sigh……..)

17) Hang up from that call and cry…… you felt so close to the finish line….and now you are back in the world of uncertainty wondering when this will actually be done!

18) Call surgical coordinator again and explain the dilemma….she graciously offers to research further and get back to me so that I understand our next steps….  thankfully I hung up before I started crying again!

19) Exchanged another call to say that things are progressing and we might be able to keep the original date as planned, just waiting for the stars to align……

20) Then the call that I was dreading…. the other office couldn’t do that date….sigh….

21) So I was asked to call the office to schedule another date and was told they were expecting my call.

22) When I called, they had no clue who I was…. told me I couldn’t schedule a hospital appointment without first having a consultation.  I did my best to hold back the tears – but couldn’t…. this process is so exhausting and draining.  At this point, I just want to get pliers and rip his tooth out and solve our problems.  But as tears rolled down my face I rambled off our insurance details (again)… and tried to breathe in and out calmly to control my emotions.  I explained how frustrating this is, since we now have to schedule another appointment for my son (who has been waiting so long and already has enough anxiety)…. but what could I do?

23) Called back the other office to update about this new development – and she was shocked to hear they said they knew nothing about our case…..and she will call me back.

24) In the meantime, called hospital to cancel originally planned pre-admission testing….sigh…..

25) Couldn’t schedule a new consultation appointment for sooner than 2 weeks from when I called 🙁 

26) Finally get to consultation appointment and Eric is a bundle of nerves…he promptly declares “no lay down” and “no big chair!” as soon as he walks into this new office.  He holds it together for a good 15 or 20 minutes and then starts to unravel.  But the doctor was great with him and let him sit in regular chair as we talked about the hospital procedure and scheduling.  

27) Work with office staff to schedule visit to hospital in 5 days…thankfully they had a cancellation so we didn’t have to wait too long.

28) Have to fill out another form for the hospital, and get medical clearance again since too much time has passed since first physical.  

29) Contact the doctor to schedule time to get the form completed.

30)  Visit the doctor to get the form filled out….she was in with a patient and we were told to wait a half hour.  Since Eric was there, that wasn’t going to work – so went back home – only to have to drive back again to pick up the completed form.

31) A day later, the dentist calls to say that they need a copy of that form too that was faxed to hospital – – so sit down and scan and email that document over to the office.

32) A few days before the procedure, we notice Eric trying to use stuff to poke at his tooth.  He always used to do that when a tooth was loose.  He then tells us he has a “boo boo tooth”….. immense guilt rushes in as this poor child who has a very high tolerance of pain has been hurting for probably several months now.  And it’s because of our delays and the delays of this long and drawn out process.

33) The night before the procedure, clean out the cabinets so that there is no temptation in the house when he wakes up.  Instruct rest of family that they are not allowed to eat breakfast so there are no sights or smells in the house!

Our empty snack cabinet…Eric declared “Food is all gone!” when he checked in the morning.







34) Lose sleep the night before procedure worrying, and calming the anxiety of your child who is yelling “NO HOSPITAL!” But at the same time warming my heart when I hear “Mom lay with me.”

35) Had not one but two accidents in the bed over night — a direct result of increased anxiety.

36) Cried for 2 hours…a sad ‘heart and soul’ wrenching cry where you knew he was simply scared.

37) Watched him replay scene from dentists office in Finding Nemo over and over…as he perseverated and worried that the dentist was going to pull his tooth out like in that scene!









38) He really held it together once we got to the hospital…we got there at 9am and got home at 2pm….  He was incredibly brave, treated like a rock star and happily declared “I’m all done!” when he woke up from anesthesia…..(you can read more about the dental visit here).

Eric and Daddy taking selfies while waiting
He got his wish of “no lay down”….and instead was in a chair.
He was so brave….
Daddy gives the best hugs…

39) Once we got home, he napped on the couch until the rest of the anesthesia wore off…it’s so hard to see him like this when he usually never sits still for very long – and will virtually NEVER nap.

Eric napping after we came home

40) In 2 weeks we will go for a follow-up and ensure everything is ok…

And then the tale of THIS dental visit is F I N A L L Y over!!!   I couldn’t count up how many hours and days it took over those months.  In most cases, many of these steps required both parents to do something, so it really should even count for double the time.   

This is our reality. 

—Mrs. Bacon





1 thought on “Dental Work — A Tale of Two Children;  One with Autism/Special Needs”

  • 1
    Melissa Chambers on September 20, 2017 Reply

    Thank you for sharing part of your life with us. I feel like I’m not alone reading these.

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