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Friday, September 12, 2008

This week in retrospect (Part III): Caroline's first trip to the dentist

Just a reminder, we're still pretending I'm punctual and get this blog done within the same day as the events on which I am reporting. (Today is Thursday.)
I knew today would not be a breeze when I remembered the impending dentist appointment for both kids. Every mother who has an "active" child knows the pain I felt today. Probably even Pediatric Dentist knows this pain- and worse- has to live it several times each day. But, I put on my brave hat and was so very thankful when my husband offered to join us at today's appointment. PR is such a trooper, always up for the adventure of taking the kids out and (honestly) trying his best to help me with keeping the kids from disrupting or destroying our surroundings.

My first child, Owen, is (and has been since infancy) obedient and "go with the flow." He will sit and play quietly, walk slowly and use his whisper voice, and adhere to most requests by doctors and dentists. No squirming, no whining, no wriggling, no running away or squealing (my very least favorite talent of children.) We thought we totally had this parenting thing down before our second child was born. Silly us.

My daughter Caroline is quite the opposite in personality. She has a charming smile and these darling little curls...but ask her to do something that's not on her "fun" list, or discipline her when she's tired or determined, and it's all over- she will turn on the tears, the squealing, and the wriggling. I sometimes call it the crocodile role, because she is quite talented at slipping through our arms and escaping freely from the grasp of our fingertips.

As we walk in to the Dentist's office, I sigh a great relief to see a play area packed with toys. This will help break down her guard. She will not suspect we are in a medical office! Maybe she will have had such fun playing that she's puckered out and lays still while the dentist counts and cleans her teeth! Maybe not.

We are called in and we proceed into the exam room. A TV! Excellent. My children do not watch much TV, so it's completely captivating for my son. The walls have animals and the borders that every pediatrician's office has- movie and TV characters, zoo animals, and ballerinas. "OOOO!" Caroline says as she surveys the room. There are even stuffed animals for the kids to hold. This dentist has thought of everything!

As Owen crawls into the dentist's chair, his mouth gapes open as he becomes completely entranced in the "Diego" cartoon. His eyes glaze over, and he's offered some "cool dude" sun glasses as the exam light is illuminated. Owen just nods. He sits limp in the chair, barely blinking, as the dentist goes to work. She tries to ask him questions about his brushing, but he is a zombie. Caroline watches inquisitively with wide eyes as the cleaning attachment is turned on and starts zooming through Owen's mouth. His exam ends with some x-rays, and throughout the exam the Dentist and her assistant comment on how well behaved Owen is and how proud they are of him. (Of course, all he can hear is Diego and his friends, but we won't get into that.) Now it's Caroline's turn.

On a side not, Caroline is almost 18 months and it's true that some pediatricians (and even some dentists) suggest the first dentist visit to be around 4. But if you talk to a Pediatric Dentist, the recommendation is really as soon as the child has teeth- mostly to look for any possible dental problems. I prefer to be on the safe side, so I was excited Dr. Walman has this philosophy AND was in my dental plan network! (I think most dentists will not see children under 5 because it's a lot more work and a tiny little mouth- and because most kids are like my little Caroline in the dentist's chair.)

Caroline only about 6 teeth, so how hard could it be? Let me answer that. To start, PR had to hold her in an upside down twisted position, as that was the only position she would tolerate. (Wasn't it nice of me to volunteer PR to hold her? Well, I had a perfect excuse, I had to take pictures to document the event!) The squirming started. The crying followed, complete with giant crocodile tears. PR patiently tried to reposition her as we were talking to her and singing to her and pointing at all the exciting animals on the walls, playing peek-a-boo, and trying to fill her hands with little trinkets. But she continued, unhappy and letting everyone know.

The exam lasted less than 10 minutes. The poor dentist somehow managed to finish, and even clean her 6 little teeth, without getting a bite from Caroline's angry jaws. But it was painful for all of us. However, I highly recommend our dentist and her office for anyone in the area.

Did I mention we're supposed to go back in 6 months?

Dr. Geri-Lynn Waldman
Dolson Avenue Dental
75 Dolson Ave
Middletown, NY

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