A Visit to the Dentist

Today I took Mekhi for his second trip to the dentist. There is nothing wrong with his teeth but I think it is important to be proactive when dealing with oral hygiene. As a young child my mother instilled in me the importance of regular and thorough care of my teeth and I want to do the same for Mekhi. I must admit that since Mekhi is in the midst of the "teachable" twos and wants to maintain control sometimes I let him get his way more often than I should to keep the peace. I realize the error of my ways and unfortunately this was evident during our doctor visit. Let me start by saying Dr. Wayne is a Pediatric dentist (I don't think such a thing existed when I was growing up) and the whole experience is wonderful and calming. Each station has a television on the ceiling to distract the children during procedures and the staff is well-versed in handling the antics of a preschooler.

Mekhi was fine with all of the doting that he received prior to his cleaning but his demeanor quickly changed once we went into the examination room. I am not sure if he had flashbacks to the last time we visited the dentist for a quick perusal of his teeth or if it was the very sterile environment but Mekhi started screaming the moment I laid him down in the exam chair. I tried to keep him still while the tech attempted to clean his teeth but reinforcements were quickly called in. One attendant played with his feet and sang soothing songs while I held his hands down and his teeth were cleaned. Dr. Wayne came in and his melodic voice calmed Mekhi quite a bit and in an instant the whole process was over. In total the exam and cleaning lasted about five minutes but Mekhi screeched and screamed the entire time.

Dr. Wayne took a moment to discuss the exam with me and reiterated that Mekhi's behavior is normal. However, I need to assist Mekhi in understanding the things that he can and cannot control. Full disclosure: at night I allow Mekhi to brush his teeth first and then I "try" to finish up the job. I am more successful at completing this task when Mekhi complies but more often then not, I am met with extreme resistance to teeth cleaning. Dr. Wayne explained that I need to brush Mekhi's teeth first and then allow him to brush. By changing the process Mekhi will have an incentive for allowing me to brush his teeth. I never thought of doing it this way but it makes complete sense. I learned something new today and although I slightly felt reduced to an idiot ( Because really, why am I allowing a two year old to run the program? ), I am going to apply the sage wisdom of Dr. Wayne to our bedtime routine.

I am grateful for health practitioners like Dr. Wayne that take the time to help make my job as a parent easier and am reminded that parenting is a learning process. *And just so you know - Mekhi really was fine. His toy dinosaur, sticker and bright orange toothbrush did wonders for his disposition!*


T.Allen-Mercado said…
That's great, Renee. I think some parents dismiss the primary teeth with the mindset that they are not permanent and hence not a big deal. It's wonderful that Mekhi is learning to care for his teeth properly at an early age.
Erin said…
Did you have a hard time finding a dentist to see him? We have not been able to find a dentist who will take kids before 2 1/2, so Luke hasn't gone yet! I would like to get him started as soon as possible. Tooth brushing is a bit of a struggle in our house, though he will let brush his teeth first before he gets to do it himself.
Your post really has me thinking. I haven't taken Kai to the dentist yet and he's 2-and-a-half. Now I feel like I want to do it- pronto! The good thing is that he loves his toothbrush and his toddler toothpaste (too much, lol) so we don't have a hard time with brushing. But it would be nice to get a professional pair of eyes. :)

Kelly Deneen said…
Thank you for sharing this! I let Delia brush her teeth and then I try to finish up. It makes so much sense to do it in reverse.
Ali said…
We'll be making our first trip to the dentist this summer and I'm hoping it goes smoothly!
My dentist gives them sugar free gum when the cleaning is over. They'll do anything for sugar free gum.
Anonymous said…
What great advice - I'm going to remember that one!
Sheliza said…
wow, that's great to have a dentist that can make his experience better :) I hope I get that kind of luck for William.
Im glad everything turned out okay. It's hard getting my kids to brush their teeth two. I let my daughter show her brother how much fun it is. he seems to only tolerate the toothbrush when she's doing it to.
MuseSwings said…
Ah! First trip to the dentist! Congratulations to both of you! I stopped by from SITS to say hi.
lovechilde said…
That's so good you're getting a jump on the dentist. My 6 year old starting going at the age of 1 and my 3 year old was even younger than that. It is normal for them to have a fit. After all, the dentist (and doctor for that matter) office is a scary place. I was so amazed when my son got to the point of just hopping in the chair like a big boy without being pushed or coerced. My daughter is just getting to that point as well. The great thing is, they will not grow up being afraid of the chair because they had an early start.

Keep up the good work momma!
CaraBee said…
Wow, I can't imagine taking my daughter to the dentist now! Let's just say it would be UGLY. Good for you for reinforcing good dental hygiene!
I absolutely hate the dentist and had a very bad exp when I use to go to the dentist as a young girl. I wont get into that but I have a broken tooth right not and refuse to go, I still have nitemares about even thinking about going. My kids go every 6 months for checkup and they always ask me why I dont go but I send daddy lol. IM terrible lol
Anonymous said…
Awww.... thank God you have a great dentist. My girlfriend went to a pediatric dentist with NO bedside manner whatsoever.
I love my dentist, too. She is a total rock star and Jade loves her.
You started earlier than us, though. Elle had her first trip at 3 and her second trip is coming up.
Its good that their not afraid on it,I was so amazed when my daughter got to the point of just hopping in the chair like a big girl without being pushed or coerced.;

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Man, my kids think their dentist is a rock star. The pediatric dentists are SO incredibly sensitive to making sure the kids are comfortable that it makes the whole experience much more enjoyable for them. I leave there wishing he'd do my teeth, too! LOL!

I'll tell you what helped tremendously with Mari when she was a wee-bit visiting the dentist; our dentist let me sit in the chair with Mari on my lap... we'd both lay back, and I'd be able to hug her and hold her while he checked her teeth. It definitely worked wonders for keeping her calm because she got to lay in my arms. See if your dentist will allow that...
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