Friday, July 1, 2011

In which I take my child to the dentist...

...and almost cry. 

I told Frank last week that he had a dentist appointment this week.  There are some who will think telling him so far in advance was a Bad Idea: "It gives him a lot more time to worry and come up with bad scenarios!"  Well, maybe.  But I have found that, with this kid, telling him something in advance and giving him time to think it over is way better than springing something on him 12 hours or less in advance.  This way, he has time to gird his loins, so to speak, long before the actual event is here.

So, yesterday, we got up, dressed, and packed his lunch.  I reminded him that he was not going to school first thing- he had a dentists appointment, and which "buddies" (stuffed animals) and which sunglasses (for the bright light) did he want to bring?  Cue up the whining:

"Mommy, I don't want to go to the dentist!"

I decided to be brutally honest with him: "I'm not really a big fan of going to the dentist, either, little man, but we do this every six months so the dentist can check our teeth and make sure they don't have little holes in them and fall out of our mouths."


So, we drove there, and he began the litany again.  I turned the radio up.  (Is 8am too early for alcohol, I wondered to myself.)

Frank's dental practice is about 20 minutes from our house.  They actually handle a decent amount of special needs kids- kids with Down Syndrome and autism, for starters.  The first time I made an appointment for him, I almost dropped the phone, because the receptionist actually knew what SPD was!  So, each time we go, I remind them upon checking in that he has SPD, is very orally defensive, and has extreme anxiety about going to the dentist.  They always are very relaxed, and take all the time he needs to get into the room (which they generally make sure we have a room to ourselves, too) and get settled in.

Yesterday, for the first time, I did not have to hold him down!  he laid down in the chair himself, and I sat perpendicular to him, with his legs across my lap.  he held my hands and squeezed whenever he needed.  The dental tech, M, let him touch all the instruments first, and showed him how they worked. 

I felt tears spring to my eyes.  he was so brave, and so stoic, lying there all tensed up but forcing himself to stay still.  I was so proud of him.  Both M and I kept praising him at how well he was doing, and when he was done, M let him pick out two prizes for doing so well.  (I also let him raid the stash of "potty prizes" when we got home.)

He had no cavities, thankfully.  The only thing he wouldn't let happen was x-rays.  We made an appointment to go back in a couple of weeks, when the dentist who is apparently the child whisperer when it comes to x-rays has time to spend with him.  (He's never before had x-rays, so this refusal didn't entirely shock me.  But I was so over the moon about how well he did otherwise, I did not care!)


  1. Karin,

    Great blog.

    Please tell the Little Man to "listen to your mother", as I have just had 4 dentist appointments in the past couple of weeks because I didn't listen to my mother.

    Thank you,


  2. Russ-

    Yes, I worry about that, because my teeth are awful. So far he seems to have inherited my husband's teeth and not mine, though.