The Dentist …

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Alya’s first trip to the dentist today left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

She doesn’t like invasions of her personal space. At all. She has put restrictions on kissing and hugging, even by her parents, and we do our best to respect that and inform other people about it (i.e., “Alya doesn’t like to be touched.” combined with fending off an invasive hand).

And her mouth: don’t go there! We do brush her teeth, but have chosen not to employ “hold her down and force it open” methods.

So, she sat in my lap in the chair. The hygienist rushed right into “can I look in your mouth?” instead of taking the time to talk our girl through the different interesting things in the room, and discuss the equipment. It was all very smiley and happy, but not very connected. No slowing down and listening to my daughter.

The Dentist was fine, but it was the same. He did not insist on getting in her mouth (I clarified that this was the case before we came) but was a bit touchy, and did not pause. Flatter, ask a question, move on to the next question. I know my daughter, and I think I know a bit about kids. You need space, time, and sincere connection to get some kids to respond. And sure, he’s busy, not time for that, but it still didn’t work.

So no, he didn’t see her teeth. And his advice for next time: don’t prepare her. And when I said, that based on her personality, I thought we needed to, he was a bit short: he works with all kinds of kids and personalities, and he knows what to do. So, his idea is that we go on a random drive and then walk into the dentist’s office? I cannot see that as respectful of my child, at all. I see that as a betrayal.

And on the other hand, I do know that she can build up anxiety in anticipating a non-welcome event. Yet we’re here to talk her through that, and help her develop coping strategies.

What would you do? What have your experiences been with dentists?

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2 responses »

  1. Our FIRST dentist visit was last year when Riley was 3. The dentist was her beloved “grammy-daddy” (my father in law, husband of “grammy”) who is the gentlest sweetest grandfather that ever lived. He has also been a dentist for about 40 years. We were visiting them in Kentucky and he was going to do her first dentist visit. Even with him, and lots of nice transitioning, the most he was able to do was to “count her teeth” (ie, put that little mirror in her mouth and just look around). It just was not going to happen. I know Riley, and I know when something might happen eventually, or is NOT going to happen. That was NOT going to happen! I think it was the white coat thing and all the equipment. We’ll try again soon I suppose. We do have her brush her teeth regularly. I’m sure we initially bribed her like we do with lots of things that are a “must” (sorry, I know, its terrible). She eventually got into the habit, she likes to do it herself and we “help” after her (because she doesn’t get those back teeth – she kinds of moves her elbow up and down:)

    • Thanks Allison – glad to know I’m not alone in this! I do find that I can brush her teeth most of the time, which is super-useful. She also loves to brush, but it’s more sucking and chewing than brushing. I’m scared to mention what I find when I get in there sometimes … but we’re on a much stronger am/pm parental brush schedule now, with her doing the follow-up (usually. I must emphasize usually, as some mornings it is NOT worth the battle). And we’ll keep trying, and I’m determined for it not to be traumatic, while also maintaining good hygiene in the meantime.
      One study I read stated that antibiotic use (prenatally and in early years) has a strong link with cavities. I need to find that reference … and this page was interesting:
      http://www.mothering.com/community/a/healing-teeth-naturally-a-guide-for-getting-started

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