How a Dental Hygienist Helped My Daughter With Down Syndrome Rock an Appointment

KC at the dentist.
KC at the dentist.

The first time I took my daughter KC to the dentist, the dental hygienist warned me that “Downs kids are always more difficult to get in their mouth and brush. It’s a little harder for us and it’ll be harder for you as her parent.” She also told me, “Downs kids are usually missing some teeth, so you shouldn’t be surprised when she’s got some missing.” Was she right? Maybe. I can’t say for sure because we only have one kid with an extra chromosome, but I did request that we not have that hygienist again.

Was I being too sensitive? Another maybe. I try to remember that before having KC, I don’t know how I might have responded to someone with Down syndrome or another disability. I didn’t complain about the hygienist. I just said we’d like to try someone new.

We had a new hygienist at our next visit. She shared several good ways she’s found to get a little one’s mouth clean and even discussed good brushing tips for home. She complimented and encouraged KC the whole time she was cleaning. I asked her about missing teeth. She basically said we can’t change it now, so we’ll cross that bridge if we need to. I can’t say for certain, but I don’t think she ever mentioned KC’s extra chromosome. I am however 100 percent certain she never referred to my daughter by anything other than her given name. I requested the same person for next time.

When we went back to the dentist, that hygienist remembered what position KC was most comfortable in the last time. KC rocked yet another cleaning and X-rays like a champ. By the way, X-rays are something one of KC’s “typical” older siblings hasn’t mastered yet. There were no tears, no whining and no complaining for the entire appointment.

Do I think it’s because KC is awesome? Definitely. But I also think that hygienist gets a lot of the credit. Did she do something magically special to help us survive this appointment? No. She simply treated KC like a capable 3-year-old. Instead of seeing challenges or a diagnosis or a disability, she saw exactly what we wanted her to: an individual, a tiny patient, an unpredictable 3-year-old ready for a cleaning and an X-ray.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s the best thing a medical professional has said to you related to your (or a loved one’s) disability, disease or mental illness?  Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Have you seen the first film with a national release to star a person with Down syndrome? Check out the film “Where Hope Grows” today!

Available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Down Syndrome

The Things I Wanted to Know After My Child With Down Syndrome Was Born

I am Anna’s mom. My daughter is 26 years old and was born with Down syndrome. When her friends see me they say, “Hi, Anna’s Mom!” My identity had become synonymous with my daughter’s birth. The morning Anna was born a nurse came into my hospital room and said, “God has a big job for [...]

To the Neonatologist Who Diagnosed My Son With Down Syndrome — Thank You

I don’t remember your name, or even your face. The one and only time we met was one hell of a night. I doubt you remember us, it’s been 14 years. We had nearly lost our baby and were in the midst of an emergency C-section required for fetal distress. Our baby had been resuscitated, [...]

When the Boy Dating My Daughter Goofs Off With Her Brothers With Down Syndrome

Hannah’s boyfriend (right) with her brother. I always joked that when our daughter Hannah started dating, her brothers with Down syndrome would be a perfect litmus test for the character of the boys she brings home. It was a joke at the time, but now that she’s of dating age, it’s uncomfortably true. She gets a [...]

When I Gave a 2-Minute Speech to My Co-Workers About My Daughter's Down Syndrome

I just laid it all out there. I hadn’t woken up and gone to a communication and teaching conference thinking that I was going to be so vulnerable with my colleagues, but when we were asked to give a two-minute talk on any topic of our choice, I knew I had my topic. “No limits.” I started [...]