‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Brace Yourselves!

Nastia had a terrible history with dentists. Some of her worst trauma memories from Russia were of the dentist. Her mouth gave evidence she had endured alot. She only has 17 teeth. Her current dentist could not imagine why and how she lost so many, but Nastia remembered. Even when she could barely speak English she tried to tell me about one particular trip to the dentist. He had come to her summer camp when she was young and he pulled a tooth out of her with pliers and no novocaine or meds. How'd he do it? Well, he had several adults hold her down while he climbed on top of her and yanked it out. She remembers screaming and screaming and she remembers them yelling at her. She had a few experiences like that, so no wonder she completely refused the dentist when she first came home.

About 4 months home, and it was obvious she had a really diseased tooth in the back. I got her doctor to prescribe a sedative, just so we could have a pediatric dentist look at it. Didn't work. She was so terrified, she refused to sit in the chair and the dentist yelled at me for not being able to "control" my daughter. We left. ( I wont even mention the name of this dentist, but will say his office is in Danvers, MA. And I do NOT recommend him.) But her tooth needed to come out, so we ended up having to go to an oral surgeon, and use general anesthesia  just to get it done. She had surgery in October 2005, just before her 13th birthday. Even with the anesthesia, the experience was traumatic enough, that she didn't go to the dentist again for 2 more years. In those two years, I made a hundred calls, trying to find a dentist that would understand her unique needs and help us. Before we discovered  the answer to our prayers : Dr. Polan.

It would be impossible for me to do Dr. Polan justice on this page, but suffice it to say, he was truly a gift from God when it came to Anastasia. I had gone to him once years and years ago and remembered how kind he was. Although he was not a pediatric dentist, I called and talked to him about Nastia's unique situation and asked if he could help. He couldn't have been more supportive of this desperate mother!

Nastia's first visit to Dr Polan was nothing short of miraculous. He told her he didn't even need to touch her mouth for this visit. He would just look. He showed her every instrument and explained its purpose. He let her touch them and when some proved to scary for her, he simply removed them from the room. He blew up a glove balloon for her. He made her laugh. He slowly and surely gained her trust enough that at our next visit, she allowed him to do a little work. He accomplished this by even allowing her to have some control over what happened. If she said stop, he stopped. If she needed questions answered, he answered them calmly and patiently, even though she took up a great deal of his time. He never made her feel ashamed that she was so very afraid. Instead, he met her where she was at, and slowly built up trust. By, I think, the third visit, he had developed so much trust with her that he was able to fill a cavity without her even flinching! Now that's what I call a dentist! My daughter's bravery with Dr Polan even got her dentist-phobic mom to go back to Dr Polan and get a broken tooth fixed!

As the years moved on, it became obvious that Nastia needed braces. She had significant chronic lower tooth pain, and it turns out it was due to the alignment of her teeth. Dr Polan explained that she needed braces and gave us the name of an orthodontist he recommended. At this point, two months ago, Nastia felt ready to handle braces, so we contacted Dr Gough and went for our initial consultation. He was wonderful. His whole office has been so supportive and understanding, and they too, really take the time to put her at ease. Although today's visit was a little traumatic for her  (and for my poor hands that got squished for two hours!), she did sooo well and made it through far better than I would have imagined. She had a few tears in the beginning and some initial anxiety that had her wanting to stop, but in the end, she braved through and now she has these to show off!

My brave girl:)

Nastia thanks all of you who prayed for her today!


  1. You're beautiful, Nastia!

  2. Yeah, Nastia! You're braver than I am.

    What is the thing with pediatric dentists? I took Zhenya to one when he first came, and while the PLACE was filled with distractions and great toys/decor - the dentist himself seemed completely wrong; he didn't seem to like children - and he didn't seem to have any patience for fear. It was SO odd! Our own kind and friendly dentist was all we needed.

    Sergei has a vivid memory of having a root canal without anesthesia. He lay in bed with his face against the cold wall. I just about cried when I heard that!

  3. You both did a great job. Nastia, you look great!

  4. And Hooray for Dr. Polan! An uber-professional.

  5. I am having trouble leaving a comment. It will not go on and no clue why it won't. I am trying one last time.
    I am glad your daughter has that torture with the past dentist behind her. What a horrible thing she had to endure.
    The little boys in your picture look so thin. Don't they get enough to eat? So much sadness in this world, it's unreal.

  6. Clearly some pediatric dentists are better suited to it than others. What a jerk! We're blessed with a very kind, caring pediatric dentist that I would gladly recommend to anyone - or even my own personal dentist who doesn't normally take patients under 5.

    Nastia is a trooper! (and I love the braces)

  7. What a great story. Nastia, I think you proved to yourself that you can overcome fear. It's likely that is a bigger milestone than getting your teeth straightened.
    I can't tell if you have the colored bands. They are so fun. If so, the Orthodontist will let you choose your colors at each visit. It's hilarious. One time my son chose Black and Gold for the Saints! (I thought Halloween orange was the worst choice, it always looked like the had Cheetos stuck on his teeth.)


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