RSS Feed Print
Dental cleaning gone haywire
Posted: Friday, December 1, 2017 6:22 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

I thought I had found a good enough dentist to have my teeth cleaned at least so I went back for 2nd time yesterday.

The front desk staff are friendly and super competent, the restored old building is really cool, and the staff seems happy.

So they gave me a new hygienist and from the time our eyes met I knew she was so uncomfortable with me this was not going to turn out well.

Husband went to do some errands which is a good thing. So in the chair she is fussing around the room and starts coming from behind the chair saying "open. Wide. WIDE! " then scurrying back to the computer behind me, over and over while nervously making comments, same ones, over and over. I quit responding after 2nd repeat, this ticked her off.

the "cleaning" was her picking at my front lower teeth and sending pain into places I never had pain before. She told me I had to use the sonicare because I was brushing so badly. The 3rd time I said, "I'm not using it because the noise and vibration are so awful and I choke when brushing my teeth." she repeated the sonicare thing 3 more times and so I told her, "I have Alzheimer's. I choke. The vibration irritates the sensitive tooth and increases the choking. I am not using it again. I do the best I can. This is it."

She said my husband had to brush my teeth for me then, and I said "no he doesn't". 

She said, "Oh, he has Alzheimer's too?" I said, "No." grrrr.

This is 20 minutes in and she has not cleaned anything. I want out but I am still opening and closing, WIDE! while she does her mystery stuff on the computer and picking at my teeth.

So  more of this and she scrapes some tartar off a tooth and then shoots water down my shirt. I used the bib to wipe it off but more is coming. she says, "It's just water. It is clean water! Stop moving!"


Knowing Keeper was out of the building I shut down. I was losing it and could have taken the water hose and sprayed her or ??? but I quit responding to anything she said and sat on my hands.

So after some more poking and scraping she says she is putting some fluoride on a soft tooth.  ??? 5 seconds later she wipes my teeth with something and tells me to be quiet and not touch it.

It tasted awful, I have never had this done before, the dentist had not come in, fluoride is toxic ... Then, she is done! No mint polish, no whole mouth cleaning! I point to my mouth she says "It is safe, medical grade, you can swallow it." what?

Ok, I shuffle down the hall to front desk and tell them "Never give me that person again," and the receptionist says, Ok.

(Bill!? Remember last time we both went same day?)

Waiting for Keeper to come back and pay the bill I start talking to myself and then shaking as I feel the fluoride paste hardening in my mouth. I don't believe it is safe to swallow. I tell the receptionist I want this out of my mouth. Then Keeper shows up.


well, no need to make a novel out of it but we were going out for Mexican food after this and now I had toxic crud on my tongue and teeth and am melting down. 

He paid the bill and the hygienist comes out and tells him it was HIS fault for leaving me with her. He asks to see the dentist, she tells Keeper, "I am not having this conversation with  you. I have been doing this work for 30 years!"

Obviously  we could not wait longer without escalating so we left and went home. Hours later I got the fluoride crap out of my mouth, it came off in stringy bits, i swallowed plenty.


the good part: I did not lose it, no police were called, and Keeper did not make it worse.

will ask doctor today when I have my annual visit if it was poison. It says on toothpaste tube "emergency if you swallow" and cities have banned it.


if you get that instant bad feeling when you meet someone who is supposed to clean your teeth, cut your hair, or perform surgery is it better to refuse to go ahead with it, or try to endure?

Posted: Friday, December 1, 2017 10:41 AM
Joined: 12/2/2015
Posts: 1018

Alz+, now this is another coincidence. My wife called this morning to tell me that I have a dentist meeting this coming Monday for clean and check. The dentist is the one I had in my former town where we lived and where my wife still lives in our home. I have moved to CCRC about two hours away. Anyway, wife will be here this weekend as is her routine now. I asked her to cancel appointment, because I just went 6 months agao, plus I need to get dentist here in town where I live at CCRC. She said fine. Now, I worry about going to new dentist, because new dentists always find something to mess up that they an make money off of, so who knows what they make up for me. I know I need cleaning, because like you Alz I have trouble aspirating liquid and have terrbiel dry mouth, both of which can cause gum and tooth problems, so I need to get to dentist, but I hate the idea of going. I can say if I had your expeience, I would have gotten up and left after a few mintues. I sure am not going to take guff from a tooth cleaner, plus I would have made some noise with the dentist on my way out. I am finished with putting up with jerks in addition to my life being crapped on by this dang dementia stuff. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it, and I need to go clear my head now. Alz+, I hope you have nice weekend, and I hope I do as well. Bill.
Agent 99
Posted: Friday, December 1, 2017 11:20 AM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 2166

I am so disheartened to read how health care providers can be so insensitive and unaware of ways to make our LOs comfortable. I am saddened to hear of your experience Alz+.  And I understand your concern BillBRNC.  
When my sweetie was in the early stages of swallowing problems I was so concerned that I entertained cancelling the upcoming cleaning but the dentist assured me that he would be okay and that the cleaning needs to be done.  My sweetie was not aware of the consequences of his swallowing difficulties - the second time he choked on drinking water I was driving and had to cross 3 lanes of 70 mph traffic to stop the car.  Somehow the water cleared his throat when we stopped.  He then asked, "what was I waiting for!"  At that moment, I was choking on my heart!
All I can say is that when possible let the dentist know what's going on with you before the appointment and that you want the most adaptable hygienist to work with you.  It may be worth describing how you want the provider to communicate with you from start to finish.  Leaving it to chance is too risky for your wellbeing.  You are too special to be treated like a commoner!
I found this organization of dentists for special needs clients.  I have no idea what their qualifications are, etc. but it may help to find someone who is geared toward understanding that there are people who deserve extra special care.

Posted: Friday, December 1, 2017 12:34 PM
Joined: 8/10/2016
Posts: 4041

BillBRNC,  Dont know if this will work for you or not.  Several years ago my dentist who I had went to for years retired.  I don't have alzheimers and like you I was leary of a new dentist.  I asked people at work do you like your dentist?  Several people said no.  I was asking a girl one day and the girl beside her said I love my dentist.  I said who is your dentist.  I love him too.  So maybe you can ask around.  A sign in my orthodontist office said the best advertisement we can get is a compliment from you.  
Posted: Friday, December 1, 2017 12:36 PM
Joined: 1/28/2013
Posts: 2659

I'm sorry you had that experience, Alz.  I worked for a periodontist forty years ago as an office assistant/surgical assistant which was a step lower on the prestige and training ladder than the dental hygienists, and my opinion of them was that occasionally you get one who isn't all that bright or good at communicating with people.

Lately, I've moved to a new dentist whose clinic is all high tech.  The x-rays are all digital to be sedn on the computer, the charts are computerized, they can digitally scan a tooth and make an exact copy crown right there in the office in about half an hour-- it's amazing.  The one thing that surprised me the most is that they no longer polish my teeth with the rubber cup as part of the regular cleaning.  It wears away too much enamel over time according to the new way of thinking.   I miss that clean, slick feeling my teeth used to have, but I'd miss my enamel more, I guess.

I am truly amazed that she didn't give you a good rinse and suck it out after the fluoride treatment.  That is another thing that is gone from the days of my youth --the good old spit sink where you could rinse out your own mouth.  My new dentist either gives me a cup to spit back into or suctions me out very well. That fluoride stuff does taste awful.  Fluoride treatments after youth are done to try to remineralize a spot on the tooth enamel that has decalcified and can lead to decay in that area.

Let me guess -- you had a tartar build-up on the inner base of your lower front teeth?  That happens to everyone because of the two salivary glands at the base of the tongue right near there.  Saliva contains calcium to fortify your teeth, but it will also harden dental plaque ( that white gunk you can scrape off with your finger) within 24 hours, and then you can't brush it off.  The trick is to remove the plaque before 24 hours.  It can be done with a regular soft toothbrush and a special technique, but a Sonicare toothbrush does make the process easier.  I sat through the special brushing technique instruction given by the periodontish himself in our old practice so many times I lost count, but so far I have all my teeth.  Basically, you point the brustles of you soft brush up at your gumline where the plaque likes to hide and do thd hula dance with the bristles.  The brush doesn't move other than a mild sway like the dancer's hips.  One tooth at a time, all across that part of the jaw.  Then reverse the direction of the bristles so that you're pointing down at the surface of the tooth and the areas in between.  More hula back the way you came.  Then repeat in every area -- outside upper, inside upper, outside lower, inside lower, finishing with the biting surfaces of the molars and then the tongue.  Floss between the teeth for where a brush bristle can't get.  Voila, you have the cleanest, healthiest teeth and gums possible.  It takes a long time, and you don't even have to use paste every time.

As for hygienists with a poor chairside manner, I can't protect you from that, but I'm sure most would be willing to learn how to communicate and work with you.  After 30 years, this one seems to be burned out and going through the motions.

Posted: Friday, December 1, 2017 1:10 PM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 21237

How horrible alz....Nothing you experienced was acceptable! Can you find another dentist? 

Bill...please ask around for recs and then call and explain your situation. Our dentist/hygenist took all the time in the world with Dick. We always went together and frankly it was on the enjoyable side. No reason why it can not be. Perhaps your wife would have her teeth cleaned with you at the new dentist.

Jo C.
Posted: Friday, December 1, 2017 2:12 PM
Joined: 12/9/2011
Posts: 13593

Alz+, what a dreadful experience you had; I am so very sorry.   I do want to share a link with you and Bill from the American Dental Association regarding Special Needs Dentistry and by using your zip code, how to find such a dentist in your area; the link is easy to use and also has a short video regarding special needs dentistry which I found comforting. 

alz+, no one should suffer such treatment, that was wholly inappropriate on so many levels.  It appears no accommodation was made even though she was aware you had out of the ordinary circumstances that should have been accommodated.

The fact she pretty much kept your husband from seeing the dentist is a bad sign; the dentist needs to know how rude she was and that she blocked such a request by refusing to speak to your husband.   That would have had me seeing red.  This dentist needs to know how his new staff member is treating his patients.

 You may even want to go on Yelp regarding this practitioner and share your experience so others know if you are so moved.

This is now over and you will never, ever, ever need to see this malevolent person again.

 Big hug being sent your way and warm thoughts are included,




Iris L.
Posted: Friday, December 1, 2017 4:05 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18502

The dentist and hygienist should both have been aware that you needed special attention and made accommodations to do so.  Your care was unacceptable!  I think this dentist should be addressed immediately and he should have an different hygienist perform the correct cleaning at no charge to your satisfaction.  I had a different experience with my dentist years ago, and he completely redid the work, at the cost of several thousands of dollars, but no charge to me.  There was no rudeness, but I was dissatisfied with the work.  

In addition to Yelp, you can contact your local Dental Association for assistance if the dentist is unhelpful.  Don't be hesitant, that's what they are there for.  Dental hygiene is very important, because the gingival bacteria can spread via the bloodstream to the heart and infect the heart valves and even cause sepsis, which can be deadly.

Do your best to perform your dental hygiene at home.  If you really can't tolerate the Sonicare, try a different electric toothbrush or work manually.  You might consider using a Water-Pik which can assist in oral hygiene.  Make good use of mouthwash and even plain water swishes.  My hygienist gave me a dental pic to use, which I have found to be very helpful in removing plaque and keeping the tissues healthy.  Dental hygiene, like everything else, takes longer for me now, but it is so important. 

I hope you will soon recover from this distressing assault.  It  was traumatic!  Comfort yourself, and get yourself to a better place.  I hope you can enjoy your weekend, Alz+!

Iris L.

Posted: Saturday, December 2, 2017 7:41 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

Bill - I can't think to speak fast enough to combat anyone, much less someone so nervous.

Jo C - awwww. you are so good at making things seem ok!

Iris - other people have told me to get a water pik and I sense it might be helpful, but until you said it I was not going to. Now you said it I will probably get one. Again.

The choking thing made me so mad I began to avoid toot brushing.

Because I worked in service industries for so long I never want to fuss over something in a way that would cost someone a job. The dentist is eccentric. They thing is I had a cleaning there 6 months ago and it was best ever. I have never had a problem with a cleaning before, I just could not respond to her. 

Went to my country doctor yesterday and noted the fluoride event in case any organ damage shows up but she thinks it will all be removed in a few days.

I just dread the whole tooth cleaning thing, at home or at dentist. Maybe a blanket - you know, next time it will either be a lot better or I will just run away. I operate on a much slower time than everyone else. She said something and I  was still taking it in and she says something new, and so on and so on. 

so I am ordering some turbinado sugar sea salt dark chocolate covered almonds. why not?

thanks for your wonderful support! I see it was a very long story again. 

Posted: Saturday, December 2, 2017 7:48 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

agent99 - when I joined boards in 2013 and saw your name I laughed and laughed. every time i read your posts I learned something. how fun to hear from you again! 

I think I live where people with previous problems regarding their professions come to work.

Posted: Saturday, December 2, 2017 8:49 AM
Joined: 12/2/2015
Posts: 1018

Alz+, I see you comment about operating on a much slower time, and bingo that for me too. On a number of occasions with DW or DS, they have been telling me about something that also included a question for me to answer about what they were telling me, and I had to say "slow down" multiple times and firmer each time, finally almost shouting that they had to "slow down" because I couldn't follow what they were saying. I felt bad, becuase by that time I hot lost my control because I didn't think they were listening to me because they kept on with their talking and asking question stuff. I felt bad becuase they are the two most important people in my life, but I simply cannot fathom why people don't understand what is going on inside our heads. Not only do we function slower, but we get pissed quickly when people don't slow down after being asked. They just don't realize how damaging it is, even when they love us and care for us. This slow thing is really getting me, because sometimes I can't follow people even when the talk very slowly. I just can't seem to process what they are talking about or what it is I am supposed to respond to, and I just get confused and upset inside becuase I am so screwed up. I feel ok inside my head so long as I'm alone. When I get around people or activities going on, I just have a whole like of trouble, and my family doesn't seem to grasp what is going on inside me. Enough said for now. Bill.
Jo C.
Posted: Saturday, December 2, 2017 9:04 AM
Joined: 12/9/2011
Posts: 13593

Turbinado sugar, sea salt, dark chocolate covered almonds???   Oh boy; where's my shoes . . .  I will be right there!  That sounds wonderful.

For me, chocolate is my drug of choice, but I cannot keep it in the house as I cannot leave it alone.  It calls my name.

 As for that tooth brushing and the gag reflex, I found two items that were helpful for a Loved One in that predicament. 

 One was to use a very soft, very small child's toothbrush.  They have them for toddlers which means they are even smaller. 

 The other option was to get a post-op toothbrush from an oral surgeon's office.   Cannot find them in the stores.  They are SO soft, soft, soft; they actually feel good.

 Also, check out that it isn't your toothpaste that is putting you off.  I am actually allergic to some now that they have all that whitening gunk and other chemicals in them.

 There are also toothpastes specifically for people with dry mouths and it is very gentle. 

 I have a water pic; I don't use it often, just be cautious to set it on a gentle setting so that you do not whack your gums right away.  It is also nice to use slightly warm water to be more comfortable. 

My toothbrush is an Oral-B electric; the head is quite small.


Posted: Saturday, December 2, 2017 9:19 AM
Joined: 4/22/2017
Posts: 335


I recently closed my mouth while the dentist was, umm, still working on my teeth. I think that is referred to as a bite. LOL He is a good guy so I was a bit embarrassed when he jumped back and told me that I needed to keep my mouth open. I always feel like I'm choking when he's working on my teeth...I assume(d) this is just one of my quirks.

Your evil hygienist should consider herself lucky. I probably would have left her with a few puncture wounds. Accidentally, of course.

Posted: Saturday, December 2, 2017 11:07 AM
Joined: 12/2/2015
Posts: 1018

OK, I can see some confusion with this chocking issue. There is the choking you get due to gag reflex, then there is the choke you get from actually choking when something gets stuck or something goes down the wrong tube. One of the primary symptom of DLB is autonomic nerve system defficiency. I have that big time. The autonomic stuff is also one of the primary immediate causes of death for DLB. Choking isn't the big problem, but it is a problem. The really big problem is messed up blood pressure plunges and irregular heart rythum. Also urinary and bowl incontenence, body temperature control, eyesight, balance and many other things. Back to choking, I choke because I sometimes aspirate fluid when swallowing. This can happen from drink of water or from swallowing siliva or swallowing any type of fluid, such as what you get during tooth cleaning. It doesn't take much at all if it goes into your lungs instead of you stomach. Elelctric tooth bushes don't help at all. In fact, they might be worse than manual tooth brush, but I don't know since I have never used electirc one, but the dental people do use some type of water pick thing quite a bit during cleaning. This is what concerns me. If I get confused, anxious, or whatever, then all these problems just get worse for me. I think others with DLB have much the same problem, and I've read that this is also a problem with Alzheimer although not as big time as with DLB. So, well I don't remember why I'm writing all this so I will stop now.
Iris L.
Posted: Sunday, December 3, 2017 4:03 PM
Joined: 12/15/2011
Posts: 18502

Unforgiven, thank you for the specificity in your instruction on tooth cleaning.  What  wonderful board members we have, to give such wonderful advice to help us in our personal care!

Iris L.

Posted: Sunday, December 3, 2017 6:12 PM
Joined: 1/28/2013
Posts: 2659

Thank you, Iris.  I find that even though I may not have enjoyed every job I had in my life, I learned some very useful skills at them.

And as a person who has used two kinds of electric toothbrush, I find that the Sonicare is the better of the two because the vibration is at a much gentler pitch and the brushes are the softest.  I was skeptical at first, but the Sonicare cleans much better than a regular brush, even when you know what you are doing like I do.  It takes the 'hula' part away so you can concentrate on positioning the brush head just so.  The Oral B heads have harder bristles, and the vibration sounds like a jackhammer.

Electric brushes do take some getting used to, because if the back of the brush head hits the opposite teeth, it can be unpleasant.  Also, I learned to kedp my lips closed around the brush when it was in my mouth so I didn't do a number on my bathroom mirror.

Posted: Monday, December 4, 2017 2:54 PM
Joined: 10/11/2014
Posts: 167

You should tell dentist and hygienist you do not want the fluoride treatment and will not pay for it since they want to give it to you and charge you for it.  My dentist is an dentist and they never do fluoride.  I also use non fluoride Nature's Gate toothpaste that I order from Swanson vitamins.  I also use the Water-Pik and can attest to its effectiveness and help on the gums.  My only other advice might be an occasional coconut oil swish which my dentist recommends to kill any bad bacteria.
Posted: Wednesday, December 6, 2017 7:41 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

I read the responses and wish I could hold the many wonderful statements in my head.

what Bill said about choking and autonomic system - yes, the signals get confused and I have aspirated on a glass of water. Also control of bladder and bowels, and I have irregular heart  which no one has connected to nerve function before.

the super soft toothbrush and buying a KIDS soft - the hygienist gave me a tooth brush which is very tiny head and ultra soft and I like it!

chocolate as drug of choice! ha!

BadMoonRising -   !!! when I was child and getting my first tooth cleaning the dentist said "spit" and I did. Straight into his face. Did not know there was bowl for that purpose. Yes, combative urges arise so I sat on my hands because I could not believe she was so bad.

also - my previous cleaning at this office was done skillfully even though my experience was also a struggle to  manage swallowing, choking, mouth closing, and lack of patience.

all responses super helpful.

Posted: Friday, December 15, 2017 5:42 AM
Joined: 5/20/2014
Posts: 4408

Alz, I thought of you while getting two teeth extracted the other day. I made sure to thank her for being kind, gentle and patient. She had to give me shots 3 separate times to get me numb. After the second round of shots I told her to just pull even though I was still feeling pain from the infection. Fortunately, she refused to pull my teeth until I was totally numb and kept checking and asking if I was feeling any pain. During the extraction one tooth broke and it took almost half an hour to get it out! 
Jo C.
Posted: Friday, December 15, 2017 7:51 PM
Joined: 12/9/2011
Posts: 13593

Oh gosh, llee; hope you are recovering without too much difficulty.    I had to have a cracked molar removed and they insisted they put me to sleep as it was going to be a lulu of an extraction.   Being knocked out scared me more than if they extracted it with me awake with a local.    I'm still alive, but do NOT like being "out" in a dental setting.

I have had a couple of root canals.  They put a rubber dam in the oral opening with your mouth wide, wide open.  Can't move the lips or close mouth whatsoever.  First time, it was awful because I felt I could not swallow and felt as though I was drowning in my own saliva; pretty awful feeling.

Second time, they told me that when I needed to swallow, just put the tip of my tongue on the roof of my mouth . . . . it worked!   Big relief, but why didn't they tell me before with the first root canal is still a mystery.

Signing off as, "Chicken Little"