Dentist's Aggressive Approach to Crying 5-Year-Old Leaves Mom Baffled

Dentist visits aren't typically fun, but one girl's check-up left her in tears and her mom unsure what to do next.

An image of a dentist's hand with a tray of instruments.
Photo: Getty Images.

Going to the dentist for regular check-ups is important, but it's not necessarily everyone's favorite thing. And kids are no exception.

One poor little girl wasn't exactly flashing her pearly whites during a recent dentist appointment, and the dentist wasn't happy about it. The whole thing escalated, and it left a parent wondering who was in the wrong. She took to Reddit to get their takes.

"My daughter has always been very fearful at the dentist," u/smcnic10 posted in the Parenting subreddit. "She doesn't have special needs, but she's never liked to be touched and has always hated hygienists or doctors putting their hands in her mouth. She doesn't bite (though she did as a small toddler) but will thrash her head, refuse to open, and cry, sometimes inconsolably."

Earlier this week, the mom took her for a check-up. It started off OK.

"My daughter had questions about some of the tools and told the hygienist right away that she 'hates the taste of the rubber gloves' when they stick their fingers in her mouth," the Redditor said. "It took a few tries to get her to open her mouth so they could count her teeth, and then she was very resistant to letting them polish."

It took 10 minutes to complete. Then, the tears started to flow.

"My daughter was getting really overwhelmed at this point and started crying," the OP said. "The hygienist suggested skipping X-Rays since she could tell my daughter wasn't having it. I told my daughter the doctor just needed to look over her teeth, and we'd be done."

Enter the dentist, Dr. G. The mom has been going to this dentist for about a decade. Another dentist from the practice used to take most of her children's appointments, but they moved away. Still, she had never had an issue with this dentist—until this appointment.

"Dr. G immediately sat and held my daughter's shoulders down, saying very close to her face in a loud voice, 'The only reason to cry is when something is hurting you, and we're not hurting you. You are getting too old for this. You are going to sit quietly, stop crying, and open your mouth. If you don't, I'm going to make your mother leave the room,'" the mom said. "Then she said, 'I'm going to wait until you calm down.'"

Spoiler alert: That didn't work.

"She was gagging and coughing from crying so hard," the mom said. "Dr. G waited all of about one minute and said, 'We'll try this another day, mom' and walked out without even looking at me. Even the staff didn't seem to look at me as I walked my daughter out."

Mom got the feeling the staff thinks her daughter was out of line, but she doesn't really agree.

"I don't think my daughter is acting spoiled or malicious," Mom said. "I think she's just terrified. Is five too old for a child to be resisting at a dentist? Or is my gut feeling that this kind of bedside manner with a scared young kid inappropriate?"

She also wanted some advice on how to make her daughter feel better at the dentist. Reddit delivered. The thread racked up more than 660 comments in less than one day. One person pretty much summed it up when they said, "What the damn hell?"

Others also had the OP's back.

"A scared, crying 5-year-old is never out of line. Your dentist literally did the worst possible thing by invalidating your daughter's feelings, scaring her more, and, worst of all, threatening to take away her only source of comfort (you)," said one person.

And some assured her there are better options out there.

"In comparison, I took my 3-year-old to a pediatric dentist today for the first time. She wailed, refused to open her mouth, threw her body around, tried to bite him—just when he tried to count her teeth. He spoke to her calmly and respectfully the entire time," another said.

The keywords in this commenter's reply may be "pediatric dentist," which many other Redditors suggested. "It's worth the money," said one top commenter.

Experts say pediatricians, family doctors, and local pharmacists often know of pediatric dentists, and parents can also find one on the American Academy of Pediatric's website. Unfortunately, not every area has access to a pediatric dentist. If yours doesn't, ask family, friends, and health care providers to recommend one that is empathetic and caring toward children.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles