All Smiles

In the week leading up to Christmas we were all scheduled to head to the dentist.  All of us.  Which included, for the very first time, Kaylee.  Going to the dentist as a family is generally a huge ordeal.  For starters there’s just the sheer number of us who have to get cleanings done.  When the boys were younger what we generally did was schedule the appointments on two separate days.  Matt would take Brendan to one set of appointments and I would take Cameron to the other.  I don’t really remember how things got switched around and we ended up all having our appointments on the same day together but that’s how they schedule them now.

Scheduling 5 cleanings in a row means that we end up being at the dentist’s office for a good couple of hours.  Keeping three kids quiet and entertained for that long is always a challenge, and then to have them get their teeth cleaned at the end of that wait seems to wind them up even further.  We’ve found video games to be the solution to that problem however, and brought some for each of them.

This trip to the dentist ended up going smoother than any we’ve done for a while.  I’m not sure if it was because this was a new office (our regular dentist split from the dental center we used to go to and we liked him so well we moved with him rather than change dentists at the old office) and the staff was just that good or if perhaps the kids were just having that good a day.  Whatever the reason, I wasn’t complaining and can only hope that in the future things always run that smoothly.

They ended up taking Brendan back first for a couple of reasons.  The first was because he was the only one of the five of us who had been seen by our dentist in this new office.  We’d had our teeth cleaned back in May at the old office, but Brendan had had two of his teeth pulled in August and our dentist was in this new office by then.  So he’d been registered and entered into the system already whereas the four of us had to fill out all our paperwork and be entered into the computer still.  The second reason, as we found out later, was to time it so that either Matt or I would be available to be in the room with Cameron and Kaylee as they got their teeth cleaned.

Even though it was a new (to us) staff they knew from our dentist that Brendan was capable of handling his trip to the dentist chair alone.  He’s a pro.  From the first time we sat him in the dentist’s chair he’s never had any issues with it.  The dentist or hygienist gives a command and he follows it to the letter.  It’s as simple as that.  Unfortunately Brendan is the worst of my brushers, and has been lectured by the dentist the last two times he was in because of plaque buildup on his teeth.  Somehow or other though (I’m going to guess he has his daddy’s teeth) he has escaped the dreaded cavities for the 6th consecutive year.  So, after a complete checkup and cleaning, he was back in the waiting room with his new toy and ready to play video games again.

Matt had gone back to a second room about halfway through Brendan’s checkup leaving me with just the two little ones in the waiting room.  Then once Brendan was done I had all three.  No big deal at first, but then they called Kaylee back and I was torn.  Seeing as she is only three I wasn’t sure how she’d handle her very first trip to the dentist.  I had high hopes because when we did go to the dentist in May she was mad that she didn’t get to sit in the big chair like everyone else, but who knows what might have changed over the last 6 months.  On the other hand I couldn’t just leave the kids alone in the waiting room could I?  Mind you Brendan and Cameron were engrossed in their video games, and our family were the only ones there since our family had taken up every available appointment slot for those two hours.

But the dental staff said it would be fine.  The receptionist promised the boys would be fine with her and she’d come get me if there were any issues, so I went back with Kaylee for her first dental appointment.  After dealing with Cameron for the last two years, dealing with Kaylee was a cake walk.  She climbed right into the dentist’s chair all by herself and without even being asked opened her mouth as wide as she possibly could.  She had her teeth X-rayed, and went through the whole cleaning with no problems whatsoever.  She was sweet, cooperative, and funny as all get out.  I thought the hygienist was going to have trouble completing her job because Kaylee kept setting her off laughing.

All was okay with her appointment until the very end.  There’s a new technology out there where they can paint fluoride directly onto the teeth.  It’s a sticky paste that clings there so the fluoride has an easier time absorbing into the teeth.  Unfortunately Kaylee liked neither the taste nor the sticky feel of the paste being put onto her teeth.  But to her credit, while she made 900 faces at the hygienist, she never closed her mouth or refused to have the procedure done.

Once the hygienist was finished the dentist came in and looked at both her X-rays and at her actual teeth.  He showed me on the X-rays where Kaylee’s adult teeth were and how her baby teeth were already starting to loose their roots.  He said to expect her to lose her teeth early and that there may be some issues with crowding, though she still has time to grow and correct that problem.  Well that’s a change.  I’m so used to Brendan’s mouth where the teeth are practically made of cement and by the time we pulled them out at 9 none of the root had dissolved at all.  Crowding though, that’s an old familiar song.  Brendan has already started his orthodontics and now it seems Kaylee may be going down that same path when she’s older.

As Kaylee jumped down from the chair and got her new toy, the hygienist from Matt’s room came over to retrieve some things from Kaylee’s hygienist.  It would seem that it was Cameron’s turn in the chair.  I cringed and wished her a lot of luck.  Evidently she’d been warned about him and was prepared to do battle.  Cameron.  Now there is someone who hates the dentist just as much as Matt.  December was his 5th trip to the dentist, and to date we had not successfully gone through an appointment with him.

First go round he refused to even get into the chair (yeah let me tell you how fun a day that was).  The second time he got into the chair, but they never got past the visual exam of his teeth.  The third time they did the visual exam and were going to actually clean his teeth after the dentist looked at his mouth.  Well our dentist is a bit older and has grizzled grey hair and (at the time) a wiry grey beard.  Evidently the sight was enough to freak Cameron out some more.  Once the dentist came in he refused to cooperate any further.

By the fourth time (back in May) Matt and I had had enough.  We’d been trying not to punish him for any of this because we didn’t want him to associate punishment with the dentist.  It was going to be hard enough keeping him from fearing the dentist without adding that in.  So we tried bribery instead.  We promised the moon and the stars if he would just cooperate with the dentist.  We got him an iPad app that explained through cartoon all the dentist did and made it fun for the kids to be the dentist and clean the characters teeth.  It wasn’t enough.  About 10 minutes into the cleaning Cameron began to fight and refuse to open his mouth.

Matt saved the day.  He brought in the iPad and held it over Cameron’s head.  As long as his mouth was open and he was cooperative Matt brought it close enough for Cameron to play.  If he started refusing Matt pulled it back out of reach.  I’ve never seen a hygienist work so fast in my life.  But at least Cameron had finally had his teeth cleaned.  In December we were prepared to go through the same technique again not at all hopeful that Cameron would be any different about the dentist this go round.

However, a day or two before the appointment, Cameron was in the car with me and asked if I would buy him a new Skylander if he was good at the dentist.  I thought about it and made a deal with him.  If he could sit in the dentist’s chair and cooperate with the hygienist fully with no refusals or fights and without us needing to bribe him with video games while in the chair then I would buy him a Skylander.  If any of those conditions were not met then he was out of luck.  He latched right on to the idea and agreed immediately.

Matt stayed in the room with him (iPad at the ready) so he could intervene at the first sign of trouble out of our mischievous little man.  And while I missed the finer points of his appointment seeing as I was in the other dentist’s chair at the time, from my understanding Cameron was an absolute angel for both the hygienist and the dentist.  He had his teeth X-rayed (for the very first time–believe me they’d tried well before this appointment and failed miserably every time), got them cleaned, and even went through the fluoride treatment that Kaylee did (and hated it just as much as she did).  All without a single fuss.

We left the dentist’s office after having been there for two straight hours, 5 mouths cleaned and sparkling.  Overall good reports on all of the kids mouths:  lots of crowding in every single mouth, and Brendan with his plaque problem but otherwise healthy shiny teeth all around.  The only problem child in the group was me.  One of my fillings had broken without my realizing it and some decay had set in.  My choices were crown now, or try to refill it and risk crown plus root canal later.  You can bet I opted for the crown now.  While I’ve had 3 previous root canals and don’t find them particularly bothersome I saw no reason to add a fourth to the list.  It’s bad enough to have 4 crowns.

But beyond that small glitch we left the appointment all smiles, and I’m eager to see if it’s possible to have our appointment in June go just as smoothly as this last one did.



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