Finding a pediatric dentist in Manila is like a fairy tale come true. I wasn’t expecting it — coming from wonderful previous experiences with Sam’s Pediatric Dentist in Chapel Hill, I had high hopes and expectations for a good one here. I was a bit nervous, having heard a few horror stories here and there, but I do have friends and family who take their kids to pediatric dentists, so I was certain there was one out there.
As it turned out, I didn’t have to look very far because there is one practice at the ground floor of the condominium we stay in. How convenient is that! It’s such a plus that there’s zero travel time and we can literally walk down a minute before our appointment. I did make an appointment right around the time of Sam’s 6th month visit. And historical data in hand, the girls and I walked downstairs and met with the doctor.
I have to say, my first impression of him wasn’t very good, but I decided to give it a chance. Why didn’t I like him? He seemed very impersonal. There was no warmth in the way he interacted with me or with Sam. He went straight down to business, he didn’t really care about our background either, or he just brushed it aside. Sam wasn’t afraid of him so I ignored my momtuition and we proceeded.
I suppose momtuition is there for a reason, right? And there’s a reason we should always listen to it. Just keep reading.
So the appointment went on with the dentist pointing out things that Sam’s lovely pedia dentist showed me in our visits abroad. Sam’s milk teeth were crowding and she had a slight under bite, making her a possible candidate for braces. Mr Pedia Dentist probed into her drinking and eating habits (like they normally do), but was quick to point out that I make her drink from a straw too much, and that habit further pushes the lower teeth back and makes the crowding worse. I initially frowned upon this because it’s the first I’d heard of it (In the states, our dentist was proud I hardly made Sam drink from a bottle, which is the same sucking motion) but he was quite insistent I had to change this habit. The appointment ended and I got his calling card, with an assurance we could text or call anytime in case we had concerns. I felt even more bothered than when we’d initially walked in, but I couldn’t pinpoint why exactly.
A few days later Sam complained of pain in her upper teeth. At first I couldn’t figure out what it was but she’d cry each time we’d brush. The warning bells went off that he may have put something on her teeth that made it sensitive. I kept calling and texting this dentist (he did say, “call anytime”, right?), but there was no reply. FOR. THREE. DAYS.
Finally we got a call from his office. They’d gotten a voice mail from me ( I’d left this during office hours days before — now why someone wasn’t picking up, I don’t understand!) and could we come and see the dentist to determine what’s wrong? Oh I’m so glad you asked.
I will never forget this date because it was October 31, and Mr Dentist was dressed in a Count Dracula outfit. I don’t know how he expected us to take him seriously. He checked Sam, and as I’d told him, I couldn’t spot anything wrong, but she would complain each time I’d brush that portion. And I know my daughter, she doesn’t cry when we brush her teeth out of the blue. So something was up.
Mr Dracula — errr, Dentist — looked at me quite impatiently (I felt), and explained that our next step would be to take extensive x-rays which would cost an arm and a leg, when “obviously what you need to learn is how to communicate with your child better. Arte lang yan (translate: she’s only playing up the drama)”.
I was quite taken aback with that statement. And admittedly, very offended. Here is a stranger I’d only known for a total of 10 minutes and he was telling me I don’t know how to communicate or brush my child’s teeth? How could he pass judgement like that? He didn’t offer any other bit of information or theory; he just dismissed ours as a case of drama. I know Sam, and I know when she’s just being dramatic. I KNOW.
Deciding he wasn’t worth my rage, I got Sam up to say goodbye. And then, the clincher. As a going away gift to Sam, he handed her A BAG OF CANDY.
What is a dentist doing giving kids CANDY?! HARD candy at that? It’s Halloween he said looking at my aghast expression.
At that point I knew: We were never coming back here. I didn’t care anymore if he was one minute away.
Thankfully, my very helpful trusted group of mom friends responded to my crowdsourcing on Facebook and sent us in the direction of the Pediatric Dentist we’re seeing now. And this is why I like him worlds better than the first one:
- He told us that we didn’t need to change any drinking habits. It wasn’t going to do much damage as Sam’s teeth situation is structural. It’s different if she thumb-sucked and ate a lot of candy which she didn’t do;
- His treatment of the kids (Jamie too it being her first time) was very similar to how they did it with us in the states;
- He had a TV on the ceiling and let them watch whatever they wanted. He addressed them personally and did not talk over their heads;
- He was still very straightforward with me, and honest and factual, but at no point in time did I feel like my parenting style was being judged. In fact he was so willing to work around with the routine we’d set for the girls. He gave me a few useful tips about giving my girls good brushing habits regardless of the lifestyle they lead;
- He did not give out candy, and said they never do; and
- When Sam had a tooth emergency a couple of days ago, he responded the next morning for us to come into the clinic. His staff said that they got my text the night before, but upon assessing the urgency, he told them it could wait until morning. So the response time was a lot quicker. He also gave me all the possible scenarios that could happen and watch out points, but at the same time, he reassured me that these little accidents are all part and parcel of kids growing up. Again, I didn’t feel judged.
The girls love this dentist. They want to go back, even without an appointment. He has a long list of patients (5 moms from different circles all responded to my Facebook message and all 5 told me to go see him), so it’s important to schedule way in advance. He’s that good and that reliable.
And the morale of the story is: Trust your Momtuition. And don’t trust dentists who dress like Dracula.