Dental With Empathy

Receiving dental care is a big deal in the disability community.  Beyond finding an actual dentist, there are other barriers that are usually not considered. So, with this blog, my hope is to bring this subject to the forefront and help others find the best way to keep their teeth healthy.

Dental care is a very tedious process which requires one to remain still and somewhat calm. Often my disability, cerebral palsy, doesn’t heed to any of those requirements. So most often, my dental care takes a back seat.

Have you ever had a toothache? I think it is one of the worst pains one can experience. Last summer, one of my back teeth started to hurt. I tried everything to get it to stop including oral gel, Listerine, liquor, and even my mom’s old remedy of rinsing my mouth with warm water and salt. Unfortunately, nothing worked. I was in pain and no one was going to be able to help me but a dentist.

Google is my go-to for everything so, that’s where I started my search.

Although, Google “seemed” to offer many options for a specialized dentist, none of them really stood out as a good fit for my needs. Many dentists in my area only see children with disabilities not adults. Lucky, I have a good friend who works for Five Rivers Health Centers.  She not only got me a quick appointment, but she hooked me up with the most amazing dentist and awesome dental team.

When first entering Five Rivers Health Center, my anxiety was high. I was so afraid because I knew the dentist was going to have to examine and take x-rays of my teeth. To my surprise, the process wasn’t that bad. Tura the dental tech even allowed my favorite guy to hang-out during the process, which chilled me out a lot. While waiting for the dentist, a young black woman with braids in her hair walked in. She was so nice, and we struck up a conversation, I soon found out she was the dentist.

My new dentist was Dr. Kingori, a black woman! It was cool to look up at someone who looked just like me.

A few months later, Dr. Kingori cleaned and filled my teeth. She also pulled my bad tooth while I was under IV sedation. Although nervous, Dr. Kingori’s calming nature and empathy calmed me down. Her team which consists of Tura and Debbie were equally amazing. They went above and beyond to make sure I was comfortable. I would like to express my sincere thanks to them.

Many with disabilities can’t find dentists who have been trained in servicing our community. As a result, many are either living with bad teeth or coming to a point where they will be.

I’m very much aware that the way you look is the way you feel. I’m also aware that the way you look is the way others will perceive you. Your teeth have a lot to do with the way you look. It upsets me when I see young people with disabilities in their 40’s and 50’s or even younger with all their teeth out. If we were able to receive good dental care from a trained dentist, many would be able to keep their teeth; our overall health would be better, and many would feel good about how they look.

I’m happy to report I no longer have a toothache, thanks to my amazing dentist. Am I still afraid of going to the dentist?  Yes! Although fearful, I’ll still go because at least now I have one who shows empathy.

7 comments on “Dental With Empathy

  1. Kim on

    We are so happy that you had a good experience at Five Rivers Samaritan Health Center!
    Appreciate you trusting our dental team to take care of you.
    Thank you for the recognition!

  2. Dians Mairose on

    Thank you Shari. From you and other friends I learned that dental care and technology can be difficult. Thank you for sharing your story and smiling tips!

  3. Tura on

    Thank you Sherry! Patients as sweet as you are is what makes our job so enjoyable. I’m glad we were able to help you and our hope and goal is to help many others with special needs in our community. 😘

  4. Julie Chamberlin on

    I am so very glad I found your post. My Daughter is 28 with cerebral palsy. We have taken her to dentists, oral surgeon and Eve an orthodontist for braces. Al have be mostly good experiences dispute her disability. But recently he dentist told us we needed to get her into a Specialist who could give her nitric oxide to relax her and get a really good cleaning. So we took her to OSU faculty dental clinic. Despite some scheduling issues we we able to get her into Dr David Hall, who assured us he could give her a good deep cleaning. Well that was not the case. Her caregiver took her today and it was absolutely traumatizing experience for her! He didn’t give the nitric oxide time to even work, he was forcing his hands in her mouth while she was choking and in 10 minutes he said he was done! Her teeth was clean! First of all I don’t know anyone that ever had their teeth cleaned in 10 minutes! When she sat up her mouth was full of blood, there was blood on her face and the sides of her mouth! She was still bleeding a half hour after then so called cleaning! It was awful! No one should have to go through such an experience from a so called professional! I have callled the office and also the board of dentristy Trying to get some answers and someone to hold him accountable! She was absolutely terrified! If anyone on this link has any suggestions. Please post. I would so very much appreciate it .

    • Shari Cooper on

      I’m so sorry your daughter had a bad dental experience. This makes me sad because it can deter her from ever wanting to go back. Feel free to reach out to me and maybe I can help Please tell your daughter, don’t let one bad apple stop her from going to the dentist. There’re really some good ones out there. I found an amazing one in, Dr. Kingori!


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