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.