What I say on dentist day: “Oh crap. I have to go to the dentist today. I don’t wanna go! But shit, my tooth hurts!”
What Zoey says on dentist day: “Yay! It’s dentist day! Wait, do I have to go to school? Yes? Ok Yay! I get to see Dr. B and Denise!”
It was check-up time for Zo yesterday and I was prepared for the worst, because, come on, who likes going to the dentist? To my surprise, my girl was thrilled to be going. Mostly so she could see her favorite hygienist, Denise and Mr. Charming himself, Dr. B. It was all she talked about that morning as we got ready for school. And when we got there, she was still excited. She was showing off a little, now that she’s almost 6 and knows everything about taking care of her teeth. Some days I wish I had a video camera embedded in my forehead to capture all the unbearably cute moments that I experience with my daughter.
This would have been a different story just a few years ago. One of the things “they” never told us about having a preemie was that her teeth weren’t going to have as much enamel on them as a full-term baby. Not a lot of enamel equals soft teeth, prone to cavities! I had no clue. By the time we got her to the dentist as a toddler, she already had 7 cavities. (Yes, I’m still beating myself up over the fact I didn’t take her to the dentist sooner!) I took her to our family dentist, who I just love. She is a great, gentle person. But attempting to fill 7 cavities in a 3-year old who didn’t want anything to do with it was way out of her league. She quickly referred us to a pediatric dentist and I’m so glad she did.
So many of us have our own stories or know our friends’ stories about awful experiences at the dentist from childhood that still affect our trips there as adults. I was worried that whatever we had to do now was going to be so terrifying and invasive that I would never get my daughter to the dentist again. But those fears were sent packing the moment we walked into Dr. B’s office and were introduced to a grandfatherly hug of a man. He shook Zoey’s hand and asked her if she was married yet. She giggled and said, “Noooo!” and he had her in his spell.
She’s been a patient there for almost 3 years now and still loves going there, even though her first experiences included hospitalization to fill those 7 cavities. Yesterday she had big news to share with Denise, the hygienist-her lost tooth! And she made sure that Denise cleaned “the hole” with the rubber tooth-brush. It must have tickled, because Zoey couldn’t stop giggling. She was so proud to tell all about how she brushes and flosses her teeth twice a day. (I was pretty surprised to hear that news myself!) Zoey was very curious and asked a lot of questions like, “What are teeth made of?” and did a pretty good job of demonstrating how to brush and floss. Then Dr. B came in and gave a look-see. He is always gentle, but firm for safety’s sake with her. He tells her to be still, but in the next breath he’s telling her how he wants to “set her up” with his cute 6-year old grandson. “Oh, do I have a 6-year old for you!”
At the end of the visit, we were both happy to hear Dr. B proclaim “No cavities!” I was so proud of how this visit went. My advice to anyone who’s getting ready to take your child to the dentist for the first time, or any time, is to go to a pediatric dentist. They really do know how to work with their special little patients. It really made a huge difference for us. And if you had a preemie and are on well water like us, get there as soon as possible.