Dentist Visit

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Categories Parenting

I don’t like to go to see a dentist. I used to start crying as I walked in to the office. I think I got traumatized when I got my 2 wisdom teeth pulled twenty some years ago. But because of the awesome mom I try to be I was determined to make sure the word ‘dentist’ did not mean ‘time to freak out’ in my childrends’ minds. I took it upon me to brush their teeth twice a day, train them to love carrots and apples as snacks (which they totally do) and feed them 100% xylitol after meals.

I was going to do things right but when I heard the recommendation is to take a child in when they turn 1 I rolled my eyes. So we skipped that first year. When Nathan turned 2 I also decided to skip the dentist because it still seemed very unnecessary. The next year I took him, actually all three of them.

I had found a pediatric dentist office with a train table, DVD player and all kinds of other fancy toys that we didn’t have at home. I imagined the kids would play while I took them one by one to the back room for a ‘quick and easy’ check up. Oh boy was I wrong..

Nathan refused to open his mouth. I tried prying it open with my fingers until the dentist lady kindly suggested that it was probably enough and I should consider taking him to a place where they can ‘knock him out’. In the mean time Beth and Joshua were running between the play room to the back room and then back, completely ignoring my ‘stop running at this minute or there will be trouble’ looks. When it was their turn to have a turn they had seen enough example from Nathan and knew what to do. No one was going to count their teeth either.

When I lurked my way out of the office I was sweaty, frustrated and decided this was the last time they’d see me. I was going to wait until my kids understood what was expected and I was going to find a place where ‘knocking them out’ wasn’t the first recommendation.

Last month I took Nathan to see a dentist again. This time to an office with no train table and only a few toys to play with in a corner.
I had started to talk to him about going to a dentist few months back saying ‘when you turn 5 it’s time to go and see a dentist’. During the weeks we talked what the dentist would do this his teeth: count them, clean them, tickle and poke them. He’d sit in a chair that moved like Daddy’s machines and there would be a bright light and he’d get to wear some awesome looking protection glasses. He was excited.

The day came and he did great! Slightly nervous but no refusal to co-operate, even if he wasn’t ‘knocked out’ ;). I was very nervous of what they’d find because I had *gasp* not followed the recommended dentist schedule and I was certain if they talked to me sternly about its importance I’d break down in tears. At the end there were no cavities (or tears), the dentist lady was sweet to tell me I had done a great job brushing and flossing his teeth and to keep up the good work. Beth and Joshua did great waiting in the ‘kid corner’ and were devastated when they realized they didn’t get a turn (or at least the cool sticker that Nathan got). Afterwards we all went for ice cream and talked about the sugar bugs we were going to brush away as soon as we got home.

Now that’s a visit I look forward to duplicating!

How did you go about the ‘schedule’ and how did you get your kids to behave?

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6 thoughts on “Dentist Visit”

  1. Ha! Funny you’ve just posted this because I’ve been really going back and forth in my mind this morning about whether I *really* need to take my 1 year old twins to the dentist. I feel like it’s sort of silly, but don’t want to be somehow negligent. I don’t think I went to the dentist for the first time until I was about 6 or 7. It sounds like you did just the right thing!

  2. I didn’t go at a year either but we did go shortly after 2 and I think the real benefit of going early is that your kids are more likely to cooperate. My big girl was a champ and they were able to do everything and then some and now she talks about how the dentist said it’s important to take good care of your teeth all the time. The early recommendation is not medically necessary so much as it helps your kids get used to it and sets a good tone so if you have kids that you think will cooperate at a younger age, do it – I’m so glad I did. Of course, we all know our kids best so if 2 is when your kids are at their most stubborn, you may be better off waiting! By the time we went, most of the tantruming seemed to have passed. Good for you for leaving the dentist who wanted to knock your son out–seriously, who says that?! It’s also great that you’re so good about their dental hygiene – a lot of parents are not!

  3. You’ve done so well. I’m terrified of dentists myself, and although my kids are not, I am ashamed that I find dental hygiene difficult, I always forget to get them to brush their teeth in the morning. Agh. One of these days I’m going to excel at it – any hints for getting there?

  4. I am a dental hygienist and your kids’ reactions to the dentist is totally normal. Who wants to lay back, have a bright light shined in their face, and let someone poke at their teeth? No one! Your dentist though? Way out of line and lazy.

    The recommendation for kids to visit the dentist at one year- its really for at-risk kids. In other words, kids whose parents aren’t likely to know that they need to brush their teeth and not feed them candy and juice all day. Usually at that visit, they just look at the teeth really quickly and then do a lot of education. For most kids, we recommend age 3-4 for a first dental visit. So don’t feel bad! It sounds like you are doing everything right.

    Someone asked for tips for brushing teeth- stand behind your kid and put them in a headlock. LOL Sounds crazy but it works! I also give mine a toothbrush to brush with and then I “help” them. FYI- kids need help brushing for a LOT longer than most people think. You should still be checking behind them until about age 8. Also (since I’m in “professional” mode) make sure that you are using a fluoride-free “training” toothpaste until your kids are old enough to rinse and spit well. Swallowing too much fluoride can mess up kids’ permanent teeth.

  5. Stephanie,
    that makes sense .. about the education part. And I totally get that. And all kids should get the benefit of having parents who have been educated somehow on how to take care of their teeth. .. I do the ‘head lock’ too. But I don’t even give them their own tooth brush. I just brush them my self. On Sunday mornings and once a week when I’m gone during both ‘brushings’ they get to practice. I’m surprised to hear you say to check until they’re 8 .. that’s the ‘magic age’ that they say (in Finland) that a child is ready to start brushing their teeth by them selves. Not any earlier.
    While we’ve had some periods of ‘struggles’ in the tooth brushing department I’m glad I persisted and now it is mostly super easy and smooth. If they ever protest all I need to do is to remind them that there will be no dessert the next day …and of course to show them my one black tooth … none of them want that! Never knew that would be such a wonderful teaching tool 😉

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