14 answers

Son May Have Fractured Rib

My son was complaining of pain yesterday when I was trying to pick him up into his car seat after he was at the dentist. All day he complained and me and my husband looked and he had a buldge on his rib that hurt him that looked like hard cyst or something. I took him to pediatrician today they said it might be a fractured rib so I am taking him for an xray in the morning. I am freaking out because he did not have any problems before we went to the dentist and I am not sure how this happened. Can kids ribs fracture easy I don't think so? Should I be hiring a lawyer and contintue to flip out. My husband says we won't be able to prove it and I am just sad my son is going through this and is in pain. If anyone has heard of a toddler with a fractured rib please let me know how it happened. I dont know whether to think it happened while the dentist or assistants were holding him down while taking the xray or looking at his teeth? Or if it happened somehow and I didn't see it but I am always with my kids at home he has not hurt himself that I know of? I am really super stressed and am not sure do I just let it go that it might have happened at the dentist office. I am never going to a dentist again where my child goes back without me.

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No Fractured rib thank god. The doc said the bruising is consistent with someone holding him there. So we are going to look into getting a lawyer! But he is happy and in a great mood and playing normally so we are very glad he is okay and no fractures. I am still upset though.

More Answers

I hope your fears are not justified and there is an explaination other than a broken rib. I agree that I would want to be with my child when he or she were in the dentist chair. Good luck with the Xray. I think wait for the results and then talk to the pediatrian about possible causes before making conclusions about what you should do. Meanwhile, if there are any bruises take photos.

I would DEFINITELY look more into it. You should ALWAYS be able to be with your child during something like a dental or dr. appointment -- until your child is old enough to express all that goes on for himself, it is your job to be there. I know Kool Smiles is a place that does not allow you to be there with your child, so I would never use them. I just hope this doesn't make another dental appointment difficult for your son. I'm sure its more traumatic for you than for him, but I would look into doing something so maybe they change their procedures. It's your right to be there!

Hello - I just had to respond to your email. When my son, who is now almost 3, had to go to the dentist at 1 year old, I was a bit worried. We went to a pediatric dentist in Arlington - one highly recommended. It was a really bad experience. The dentist held him down so hard that he had an indentation on his forehead for over an hour - a really pronounced one that looked like it hurt. I was horrified and didn't want to say anything but if she had to use that much force holding him down, something was wrong. Needless to say, I have not taken him back to that dentist. We don't live in Ashburn, but drive out to Ashburn Children's Dentistry and have had great experiences.

Whoa, there. Find out what you're dealing with first. I have worked with infants and toddlers and it doesn't take a lot to hold them still for procedures, certainly not enough pressure to crack a rib. When one of my kids was two, he fell down while playing outside, cried because he scratched his arm. I gave him a bath, a bandaid, and put him to bed; it wasn't until the next day when he was holding his arm funny(but said it didn't hurt) that I thought something else was wrong--he had a fracture in the upper bone of his arm. Long story to say that it's more common than you think for a toddler to break a bone, I wouldn't jump to a lawsuit conclusion, where else has he been, what else has he been doing, who else has he been with?
I went back with my kids if they or the dentist asked me because they did cut up more if I was sitting there watching. There are lots of peds dentists out there that will absolutely let you come back if you wish, and you should if you're worried.

Oh my! I would never let my little ones...even my 6 year old go back at a dentist or doctor appointment without me. I am surprised that they allowed that even with him so young! I too, would be freaking out...but first things first, get your son into the docs to make sure all is well. Focus on that first before worrying about what to do with anything else. Is this the 3 year old? If so, have you asked him about the appointment...and if they tried holding him down of if he got hurt wile with the dentist? After you get yourself to calm down, and get him the medical attention he needs, sit down with your son and ask him things to see if you can figure out when he got hurt...ask if he was hurting before the dentist...things like that. Then if it seems still like it had something to do with the dentist appointment, speak to a lawyer to see if there is anything that can be done. Hope your son feels better soon!

You don't yet know what the problem is so don't lead yourself to a conclusion that will cause you stress. Wait until you know and then take steps. I don't know about your little one - but if I just ask my 3 yr old son in a non-emotional way what happened in a situation I can usually figure out what happened. If you ask and keep from leading him with the way you put the question you may get to the truth quicker. Just ask how he got the booboo on his side. Don't give him options of HOW it may have happened just let him lead you there. And I agree with your thoughts - don't let him go back into a dental office or Dr without you. I won't go to a dentist that won't allow me to be there to comfort my child. Dentists are stressful for kids. I'm his main source of comfort - how can a dental tech even fathom a parent not being there for a child. Besides - what is acceptable to them in the care of my child can be vastly different from what is acceptable to me. I will be there to monitor that. Have you considerred a spider bite - those can take a couple days to manifest too and can look red and "cysty" I hope you figure it out! S.

wait to see what the x-ray shows before you go too crazy. it sounds like it may have just popped out of place verses being broken. one can dis-place a rib by coughing too much and too hard... place your energies on your son for the moment.

First, wait to see IF this is even a fracture. It may not be a fracture at all. If it is, it may have occurred even before the dentist visit--he could have had a hairline fracture from almost anything (bumping against a table at home, falling at home or on the playground, anything) that was exacerbated by...anything. Even getting in or out of the car seat or struggling against the straps of the car seat. Or, yes, it truly could have been something at the dentist's. But to assume right away that the the dental hygenist held him down like a wrestler is really jumping to conclusions, unless you have seen or overheard that that seems to be going on with your kid or others there. Little kids DO get breaks. My daughter cracked her clavicle when she was two and a half by falling off a bench at the swimming pool onto the changing room floor; there was never even a bandage much less a cast because with small kids that's often not done. If you're still uncomfortable with the dentist then do follow your gut instinct and change, but unless there is bruising or other evidence that your son was actually hurt or held down roughly, or unless he's saying consistently that that happened, you can't necessarily assume it happened there. If you know other parents who use this dentist you could ask if they leave their kids, if they feel the staff are rough, etc. As for leaving kids alone with the dentist -- I think three is too young for them to ask that, though my daughter at seven does now go back there alone because if I am there, she is "showing off" for me and acting up more than if she goes back alone with the hygenist (whom she's seen all her life and whom I've also used for 20 years, so they're not exactly strangers). So the rules on "never going back there alone" can change depending on the child and the circumstances and especially the age. Good luck and focus more on your son's actual condition and comfort than on pursuing the dentist at this point unless you really get some more information.

Hi. First your husband is probably right about not being able to prove it, but if it would make you feel better speak with an attorney. You might also want to call the dentist to see what they say. When my daughter had her first appointment he required me to be in the room. he wanted to talk to me about her teeth etc, plus he said it makes the kids more comfortable. I was there when he talked about brushing and everything, the only time I left the room was during the x-ray and that's for my safety. She has been going to him for 8 years now and it was only during the last 2 yrs that I waited in the front room. My son is almost two and there is no way I would not be in the room. I'm not fussing, I just find it amazing how many dentist do that. That practice makes me think they are trying to hide something. I don't know where you live but if Greenbelt is not unreasonable for you I can give you his info. I live in Silver Spring and make that trek b/c he is that good. Good luck and I hope your little one feels better soon!

I am shocked that they separated you from a 3 year old!! I can't imagine not being there at this age. I have gone back with both my children for all dentist appointments. It was never a question that I wouldn't go with them. My son was 3 1/2 his last visit. I am not sure why the did x-rays so young. They have not done them on my son yet. My daughter's only two now, so we have only been to the dentist once with her where I was also with her. Wow. I do agree with others about talking to the dentist office about the visit. I am glad to hear it wasn't broken!! I would definately be shopping for a new dentist! If you are in the Springfield VA area we love our dentist.

OK, first of all, teeth x-rays that young are really not necessary so if they needed to "hold him down" for that or the cleaning than maybe you should try going to a pediatric dentist where they have better ways of handling kids. Secondly, you have every right to go back with your child at that age 3yr or 1 yr, if they don't let you than find someone else. Too many things can happen as you now know, better safe than sorry.
I would definitely call the office and let them know what your concerns are and to cover yourself. If they are defensive, or if there was alot of screaming while he was there I would certainly report it to the Medical Board.
If your son has a hard time at the dentist that's one thing, but if he's being tramatized he will hate going and neglect his teeth later in life- so many men are like that you don't want to start him off that way if you can avoid it.
Good luck and I sincerely hope your son's injury didn't happen at the dentist and he gets better soon.

A N --

I do know of a couple of instances where small children fractured an arm and no one knew it for a couple of DAYS. (This even happened to my mother when she was a toddler). By the time the child was complaining, no one could figure out what had caused the break, and the child could no longer remember any injury.

Sometimes little kids are so active, and so accostomed to falling and bumping into things, that they don't really register the fact that they're injured until much later than you'd expect. Other times kids are reluctant to report an injury to mom because they sustained it doing something they aren't allowed to do...climbing up on the counter, jumping on a bed, etc.

It's also possible that your son sustained a minor injury, and then later another minor one that exacerbated the first (thus neither injury would have seemed significant to him). It's also possible that your son has a very high tolerance for pain -- which would also explain why he doesn't remember the injury. (My younger brother got his hand slammed in a car door when he was a toddler and didn't even cry, though he did test out some "swear words" -- but only until someone opened the door and freed his hand. Then he ran off to play!).

If your instincts tell you to change dentists, then you should do that. You're also right that (barring surgery) it's best not to leave a child alone in a room with strangers --even if they have medical degrees. But your husband's right too -- hurling serious accusations at the dentist, without any hard evidence, is a little crazy. Jumping to conclusions is the opposite of critical thinking, and probably not what you're hoping to teach your son.

Best luck at the doctor today -- I hope his rib isn't broken after all, poor little guy!

I think your husband may be right that you won't be able to prove it BUT....hiring an attorney and filing a complaint may bring out OTHERS who have been hurt/injured or have complaints about that particular dentist. WHY do they need to have no parents back there? They'll say it's because they are calmer without you. BS (sorry). When a new ped. dentist I was going to see wouldn't let me back, my daughter and I left. NO WAY was I going to let my 3 yo anywhere without me, much less the dentist which she was nervous to be at anyway. It was inconvenient to wait another few months to get in with a new dentist but, again, there is no way I'm leaving my toddler/preschooler/child at all. I was appalled that they'd even ask.
I'm sick that your poor son and you are going thru this. Another point to make is try very hard NOT to scare him and make him think his injury/pain is from the dentist. Those particular mental scars may take years to heal otherwise. Best of luck to you!

I'm going to add a little to what a few others have said.

First of all, most pediatric dentists do not want parents around during a cleaning and exam. The kids have a tendancy to act up even more, and I highly doubt that the assistants or the dentist would do something to hurt your son. (For the record, I am not a dentist nor do I work for one.) When mom or dad are not hovering around and answering all of the questions for the kids, the dentist can get his/her job done faster. With parents in the exam room, the stress factor goes up exponentially for children and for the parents. If you feel that you need to find a new dentist, fine. Ask for referrals from other friends and neighbors with toddlers.

Next take a deep breath and wait to see what happens with the x-ray. A cyst-like object can start to form days after any fracture, so it seems likely that this would not have been caused at the dentist's office. If he does have a fracture, who knows where and when the rib broke? He could have fractured it while playing, being rough and tumble, or almost any other circumstance. Believe it or not, kids' bones can break somewhat easily because they are more flexible. So wait to see what the x-ray shows and relax. Focus on your son and your family.

Lastly, and I'm going to be a bit mean about this, you don't need a lawyer. You don't even need to be thinking about a lawyer. This thought process leads to nothing but trouble, and your husband is right. You cannot prove anything either way. Let it go and help your son heal.

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