Today we took Elliott to his second dental appointment of his young life. His first appointment was when he was 14 months old. He didn't have any area's we were concerned about, but we do want him to become familiar with the experience and stave off any potential cavities.
We also have dental insurance that covers some of his visits, and found an incredible pediatric dentist. The office is designed for kids and adults alike. There is a coffee machine in the waiting area with latte's and all the fixins. There is a video game room, a TV area, and a play area for the little ones. Very comfortable and relaxing.
They give new patients an "I'm Special" sticker when they arrive. They are very friendly and allow the children to get comfortable with the tools and office equipment before the dentist comes in. They were careful to close the door when they heard other children crying. The dentist himself took some time to talk with Elliott directly before starting the exam.
Now the exam was something else all together for our wee lad. He was hysterical for the 5 minutes it may have taken for the dentist to look at his teeth. He was sweaty and stressed when it over. He didn't want to look at or talk with the dentist for a full 10 minutes while he counseled us on good dental health, positive eating habits, and strongly advised us to kick the pacifier habit. But, by the end, he said 'thank you' to the dentist and gave him a high five.
He didn't notice any problem area's except for the front 2 upper teeth, which we admittedly have trouble brushing. And the hygienist informed us that his upper lip was tightly affixed to the gums on the top and that may contribute to the challenge. They recommended we floss the upper 2 teeth, but that a traditional cleaning wasn't needed as there was no plaque.
The dentist informed us that he had all 20 of his baby teeth (which was news to me--I thought we were still waiting for his big molars to come in). Yes, I win the bad Mom award for the week. Hmm, perhaps that was why he was so sensitive when I was in charge of brushing his teeth... Now, I have a knot in my tummy for being not only a bad Mom, but an insensitive one as well. Well, on the bright side we are done with teething! Hooray for that.
Elliott had a less severe but still valiant meltdown when the hygienist brushed and flossed his teeth. But was much happier there as he got to pick out his tooth brush and a toy.
The dentist offered some good advice that I wanted to share with you, dear internet. We have tried just about everything we could to get Elliott to warm up to the idea of tooth brushing. He would throw K2 size tantrums when it came time to brush. We tried different locations to brush, letting him brush first, letting him brush our teeth, singing a song, silence during brushing, changing the time we brushed, getting new toothbrushes and toothpaste, letting him pick them out, a musical tooth brush, forcing him to brush through restraint, sticker charts (for many, many months), prizes for a completed sticker chart, stickers as rewards for brushing, and shamefully last: fear tactics of eminent cavities and threats of black teeth. Did I mention education in there also? We have several books about teeth, dental heath and good brushing habits.
So, the advice he gave was to sing the ABC's while brushing. He said the song is familiar, it lasts the correct amount of time, and there is a known end every time. He also suggested brushing with your child post-bath when they are the most relaxed and with them wrapped in a towel, so you can restrain their hands and arms. Lastly he said to get them in the habit of laying down to brush since this is how they will examine him at the dentist's office.
All and in, he scored a 94% on his dental report card which is far better than either of his parents scored on their latest visits with the dentist and hygienist. Next visit--6 months.