Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dental disappointment

Today my children had their six-month dental exam.  Last time we went was Lucy's first time. Did it go well? No, it did not!

Coen was a peach. As usual.  He did everything he was asked, as he did even when he went at age three.  Let them clean his teeth, count his teeth. Last time he had sealant put in which tastes terrible, but he did great for the whole thing.

Lucy? Different story.  My daughter who nary will let a strange person say hello to her, does not cotton to a strange person putting their fingers, or metal implements for that matter, into her mouth.  She was terrified of the chair.  And the doctor, who told me she had a two-year old, was full of bargains and pleas for Lucy to get in.  She seemed impatient and I, stupidly, got stressed and then just put Lucy in the chair. She screamed. She shrieked. She cried. I had to hold her down. The whole office, including her brother, getting his teeth cleaned down the hall, heard her.  The doctor said, "If you don't let me look in your mouth, you won't get any prize.."  Oi.  That did not work and suffice to say, all that happened at that appointment was a lot of terror and trauma.  That was the LAST thing I wanted.

So this time, after we got Coen settled by himself in a exam room, I told Lucy that she could sit on my lap in the chair and I told the hygeinist that she was very upset by her experience last time and that she was scared.  The hygienist was great.  She made her comfortable and Lucy even opened her mouth for her and talked about her birthday.  the hygienist told Lucy that she could even pick two prizes after her appointment because it was her birthday.  Then the doctor came in.  She was super to the point, and nice about it which worked.  At first.  Lucy let her brush her teeth.  BUT.  Lucy.did.not.like.that.brush.  She was very upset by it. "I don't like the tickles" She said.  The dentist told her that she just would do a little more and then Lucy started crying.  "Don't cry now" The dentist said in a much less nice voice. "You'll scare my patients." Now, I don't know about you but I don't think that's a good thing to say to a little kid who is crying. I do not understand telling a child not to cry.  She tried to get Lucy to brush some more and Lucy continued to cry. She said it again!  Not to upset the other patients.  Then Lucy cried harder and said, "mama."  I told her it was okay.  It was okay that she was crying and it was okay that she was scared.  The hygienist said, "You did a good job, Lucy. You made a LOT of progress from last time!"  And the dentist said. "Yes, but you can only pick out one prize not two because we couldn't do your top teeth.  And Lucy's cries turned to sobs.

Then, I started to cry.

Yep. Me and my daughter, together in the dentists chair crying.

They asked if I was okay and I said I was just frustrated.  And they said not to worry as they'd had much worse patients. But I was more frustrated that two doctors now had made the dentist into a scary experience for my daughter. And frustrated that I have a child that I love so much but do not understand in the least.  And frustrated because I felt like a huge jack ass crying in the dentists office.

We went out to pick Lucy's two prizes. The hygienist said she could still have two.  So there we were, standing by the prize box, both of us with tears rolling out of our eyes.  I felt like I should get to choose a jelly bracelet or a plastic truck.  The dentist followed me out to make sure she hadn't said anything wrong.  I didn't know what to say. 

We went into Coen's exam room and watched him finish up. Lucy was over it.  I had to swallow to keep from crying more.  Once it starts, it's like a water fall.  It's ridiculous.

So, in May we'll try the pediatric dentist that apparently specializes in "behavioral difficulties".  Though I think I may find a new place to go altogether.  And I'll try not to cry on Thursday when I have my six month check-up.


  1. The first visit is always the crucial part for kids because this will be their basis for their future visits. One good advice that I got from my son’s dentist is to explain to the child the importance of getting one’s teeth cleaned and what the dentist will do throughout the procedure. This will make them feel relaxed and comfortable in the chair because they already have an idea of what will happen. Anyway, it’s been more than a year. How are Coen and Lucy now?

    Ted Grimmer

    1. Thanks Ted! Yes, it is much better now! My kids have gone to two appointments since then and done extremely well. My protective daughter allowed every aspect to happen to her, even x-rays (AND she reminds me that she needs to floss if we forget!) And my son goes in by himself, no problem!