First Official Dentist Appointment
Well, today was a big day here for us in the Lil’ Dino household. All three of us, (Lil’ Dino, Lil’ Dino Daddy, and myself) had dentist appointments.
Now technically my son has been to the dentist twice before. Once to have his lip and tongue ties revised and once soon after his first birthday for what we thought was a tartar problem (it wasn’t…we just needed to brush his teeth. duh! *rolls eyes* Apparently, the rule is if one has teeth, brush them. Haha!).
Ever since we went to that pediatric dentist and started brushing his teeth, it’s been a daily battle to brush his teeth.
Picture this: our Lil’ Dino family is getting the little one ready for bed. “Ok, son. Let’s brush your teeth.”
“Noooooo!” Lil’ Dino exclaims as he runs wildly in the opposite direction adorned in naught but his adorable cloth diaper.
Dino Daddy and Dino Mommy smile wearily at one another as one of them holds the tooth brush and both follow in hot pursuit of the resistant toddler.
Dino Daddy wrestles him into his arms and onto the changing table and holds his arms while Dino Mommy smiles and sings happy teeth-brushing songs and tries to get Lil’ Dino to open his mouth.
“Say ahh,” Mommy prods.
Toddler then shuts mouth tightly with a most serious face.
“Please son, it’s time to brush your teeth,” Mommy assures. “Mommy will be very gentle.”
Toddler still refuses and begins (or continues) to squirm.
Mommy uses a freshly washed pinky to create an entry into toddler’s mouth followed by the tooth brush. Toddler seems to comply for a moment before quickly sucking off the strawberry flavored toothpaste, then closing his mouth tightly again.
Mommy wiggles the toothbrush into Toddler’s mouth and begins to scrub gently. Toddler whimpers. Both Daddy and Mommy feel terrible and pray he’ll still trust them when this is all over. Mommy keeps brushing softly and Toddler wails (which admittedly and horribly makes it easier to get the whole thing over with because now his mouth is at least open).
“It’s ok son,” we reassure. “We’re almost done.” “We’re doing this because we love you and we don’t want your teeth to fall out!”
Then it’s over. Whew! (Now were all ready for bed!)
This has been every evening for nearly a year, with very few exceptions.
Needless to say, Lil’ Dino Daddy and I were skeptical about how this trip to the dentist would go. However, both of us felt it necessary since teeth-brushing is such a struggle and because Lil’ Dino chipped one of his teeth chomping a rock and we wanted our family dentist to check it. (*another eye roll and a big sigh* Boys will be boys?)
Scared Little Boy
So we arrive at the dentist and I fill out the “new patient” paperwork for my son which is kind of exciting.
Soon two dental hygienists arrive to take back my husband and my son (with me). One of them tells Lil’ Dino, “Can you believe your Daddy was your age when he started coming here?” Pretty neat, right? We really like our dentist.
So, my husband heads back with the hygienist who spoke and my son continues to play with legos and completely ignore that he’s being spoken to. (My son is actually very friendly and polite for a two year old. We had just woken him up from his nap and he was a little shy and moody.)
So, I illicit Lil’ Dino’s help in picking up the legos and then I pick him up and we walk back to whatever the dentist equivalent is to an exam room. We talk to the hygienist. Let’s call her Ms. Hattie. She’s so sweet and friendly.
She shows my son the “special cushion just for him” and I go to set him in it. He raises his legs into the air, refusing to sit, and clings to me as tight as he can. He was terrified! My son is typically fairly fearless. He has a wonderful sense of exploration that sometimes borders getting into mischief. He’s not really afraid of new people or new things.
We talk up the chair, as well as the movie he can watch while he sits in it. No go. In fact, I told my husband I’m pretty sure he suspected trickery once we offered the TV freely and he didn’t have to request it.
The more Ms. Hattie speaks to him – the more I try to convince him – the more his grip tightens around me and his head buries into me. Soon he begins to sob that panic sob I so rarely witness. It’s not only heartbreaking but I know it means he’s had enough. He’s scared.
I tell him, “Oh honey, it’s ok. You don’t have to do anything today.” I smile at Ms. Hattie and take my son into the lobby. As I carry my frightened son, I notice the warm colors of the lobby contrast greatly with the cool colors, bright lights, and shiny instruments of the exam room. He immediately relaxes but continues to cling to me. The sobbing stops.
I remind him he is safe. That no one will hurt him. Everything is ok.
It dawns on me, that although he was a baby and it had been a year since he’d had a bad experience at a different dentist’s office, he probably remembers it. At that time, and at the time of the lip and tongue tie revision at three weeks old, it was a forced situation. Both times he cried and was held down. It truly breaks my heart to write about it. Something triggered a panic response for him.
All this time we’d been brushing his teeth almost the same way because, well, we had to. We had to take care of his teeth. The only time he doesn’t mind his teeth being brushed is when he does it himself. Of course, he doesn’t do it very thoroughly which is why we have kept doing it for him.
Our story continues, and my son soon crawls off my lap to go back to the legos. I have told him that soon we will go back into the room, “but it will be to help Ms. Hattie clean Mommy’s teeth. Won’t that be fun?”
Ms. Hattie comes out and kindly hands me the paperwork I hadn’t quite finished. As I scribble down the requested information, she kneels down and asks if Lil’ Dino wants to play legos with her. He was so excited. He laughed and joined her in playing. They chat a while about colors and block sizes and how high they can stack them.
I complete the stack of papers and walk it up to the office assistant. I return to Ms. Hattie and Lil’ Dino and ask him if he wants to go see Daddy get his teeth cleaned. He agrees and we go to his exam room.
Let’s Watch Daddy…and Help Mommy
My husband’s dental hygienist was a hoot and also friendly. She was wearing specially designed glasses that had a light on them and commented first thing that she was a robot. My son loves robots, so we chatted about that for a bit and she showed him the tools that were cleaning Daddy’s teeth. “Daddy’s teeth are so shiny now,” she explained. His curiosity was sparked but he remained solemn.
We headed back to my exam room with Ms. Hattie, and I sat down on the special chair with my son on my lap. I pointed out the TV and the current scene playing in “Finding Nemo”. Ms. Hattie brought him a Lil’ Dino sized chair and he giggled and sat in it joyfully.
Becoming comfortable in this new environment, he exclaimed, “Daddy is?” and stole out of the room and down the hall to check on his Daddy. Thirty seconds later he was back with Daddy right behind him, and wanted up on my lap. I encouraged Lil’ Dino Daddy to stay and to let Lil’ Dino watch so he’d become more comfortable.
With Lil’ Dino on my lap, Ms. Hattie told us we were going for a ride, and I excitedly exclaimed “Whee!” as the chair moved back at a snails pace. Lil’ Dino giggled. Maybe this place wasn’t so bad after all.
I have to admit, as someone who has had a chipped tooth, braces, and headgear, and a retainer, I’ve had many experiences with people working inside my mouth. Nothing was more eventful than this simple cleaning I had today!
Lil’ Dino stayed on my lap the entire cleaning. He “helped” and bounced, and exclaimed, “Ah-uh-uh-uh!” as he did so. He smile and laughed and talked about “Mommy mouth” “Mommy teeth”. He watched and then wanted to touch the tools (but only did so with permission from Ms. Hattie which was impressive I thought). She handed him his first dental tool. He held the circular mirror up to his face and scrutinized it thoroughly. He grabbed the “sucky tube” that was in my mouth and tried to push it further into my mouth and down my throat. (Ok, that one wasn’t with permission.) “Touch it,” he said and then touched the green paste that was polishing my teeth.
What a Turn Around
He continued to watch in fascination, get excited, then lay on my tummy and hug me tightly. He even told me “tank tou, Mommy” a few times for getting to do something with my teeth. He was so distracting and truly very sweet. What a turnaround from the terrified little person thirty minutes previous in this very room. It was certainly the most fun dental cleaning I’ve ever had.
Ms. Hattie was able to get him to smile here and there and check out the chipped tooth. They use a really neat camera tool with a light on the end that goes in or near the mouth and he tolerated that a bit so she could get a good picture for the Doctor. Lil’ Dino was positioned just right that he could see the screen that showcased him as she took the pictures. He liked that too!
Ms. Hattie was even able to polish Lil’ Dino’s teeth with a toothbrush by letting him do it and rubbing his teeth with her blue-gloved hand where she wanted him to brush.
Lil’ Dino even let the Doctor look at his chipped tooth for about a nanosecond, but it was just long enough to know that everything was ok.
When it was all said and done, we all three were given a clean bill of dental health and Lil’ Dino left with a bright smile and a prize from the toy chest.
He said thank you and bye bye to everyone, including the doctor. He said a special goodbye to sweet Ms. Hattie and reached out to her to hold him. He really liked her. 🙂
Before we left, our favorite office assistant from the front desk came around to take Lil Dino’s picture with a big white camera that prints the photos instantly. His photo was placed on the “No Cavity Kids” board, of which I took a picture to send to his “Nama” and “Nana”.
When I showed my husband the picture of the picture I took, I warned him beforehand that if we weren’t his parents, we wouldn’t know this was a two year old. He saw the picture and agreed. He looked like an older child. A big kid. And for the moment, that suited him well, because he did a big, brave, big-kid thing today and overcame a fear that we didn’t realize he had.
Now that we know our son has a healthy mouth, we are going to take a couple weeks to change his teeth-brushing routine. We’re going to let him do it all by himself, with direction. We’re going to take our cue from Ms. Hattie and show him where to brush by rubbing his teeth. He’ll be standing like a big boy over the sink. Maybe Lil’ Dino Daddy will teach him to spit like a man. (Ew, what am I saying?)
Upon receiving the picture I sent of our very own “No Cavity Kid”, my mother-in-law admitted that she is resisting the desire to go to the dentist’s office tomorrow just to talk to them about how cute her grandson is. “Grandparent pride is a real thing!” she explained proudly.
What about you?