Shoddy Dental Work and other questions regarding dental ethics.

I had a terrible dentist when I was a kid. He would walk into the room, not look at the x-rays, not look in my mouth and announce that I had anywhere from 5-10 cavities, every six months for about 8 years. Finally when I was 16, he pulled this stunt and announced 7 cavities. I refused to have any work done, walked out, and didn’t return to a dentist for 9 years, and that was only because a filling fell out. The dentist I went to found decay only where the filling had fallen out, and nowhere else (weird, right? 9 years after having been told I had seven cavities and the only decay I had was under the former dentist’s shoddy work). This confirmed what I had suspected since I was about 10 – that this dentist was drilling my mouth for money. This dentist would also not numb me all the way. I could feel his drill. And he would make fun of my crying in pain while he was drilling. And some of it was deep, like right down to the dentin, deep.

But the worst was that when I was about 12 he started copping a feel 4-5 times each appointment. Before you suggest, yes, I’m on meds for it, and yes, I’ve had therapy for it, but dentists in general are still major triggers for me. I’ve moved on, and I’m ready to really put this guy behind me, but every time I open my mouth I get to see the 4-5 silver fillings on every single back tooth. And as such I have a few questions. 1. Is there anything a dentist could do for me? 2. If there is, what would he/she probably do? 3. Would he/she judge me for the condition of my atrocious teeth? 4. Should I tell the dentist about the terrible experiences and therefore why I’d probably panic every 10 minutes or so in his/her chair and cry throughout the entire appointment? 5. Would the new dentist have to report my old dentist to the state dental association (since I was a minor when he inappropriately touched me)? Thanks for your time.

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Answer: Dental Ethics

By Expert 10

First, I apologize that you have experienced this. It is a bad image for our profession as a whole and it against the code of ethics without a doubt. Any professional would be understanding of your situation and should respect it. Amalgam (silver in color) fillings can be replaced many times with composite resin or porcelain depending on the size of the restoration needed. However, prior to scheduling treatment, I feel it is in your best interest to establish a comfortable relationship with a new dentist. Maybe a female dentist would make you feel more at ease? No dentist should ever judge you or your past, they haven't experienced the trauma you did. You should schedule a consultation to first meet a new dentist, if you feel positive, schedule a dental exam and cleaning. Baby steps are encouraged in order for you to build trust. If the dentist isn't willing to take it slow, they are not for you. Your situation will be confidential and you only need to share what information you feel is necessary for the new dentist to treat you with the best care possible. Moving forward is the best thing and you are heading in the right direction.

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