There are adjectives too numerous to list to describe this experience. I'll give you just a few:
Samantha has been going to the dentist since she was a year old. The appointments for the first few years went well, with the baby being as cooperative as a baby can be. Then things changed. No bad experience to trigger it, just a maturing brain trying to make sense of it all, finding pure anxiety and fear in the invasive nature of the situation.
This is a kid that fears boo boos and what's underneath a bandaid (I ask for no bandaids whenever possible - it's just not worth the fight to get it off), who used to cry when the car was up on a lift getting fixed, a room that was newly-painted, a fake tattoo, face-painting, or a new front door. In other words, change to her comfort zones. And I am pretty darn sure that her body is a BIG part of her comfort zone. And having the hands of some stranger in her mouth doing whatever it is they're doing is a big No No in her book.
We went to the dentist yesterday. This time I took her for the first time, instead of Daddy, since he had to be at work early and, let's face it, how awful must it be for him to always be the bad guy taking her to those appointments? I got a good, grim look at the reality of just how bad it could be. Trying to make it a positive experience all around just wasn't going to fly, but I did my best.
To start with, after having to wrestle her out of a corner of the waiting area and into the exam room, I did have to pin her hands as she lay on top of me in the chair, Cinderella on the DVD player about as soothing as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre would have been. I pinned her hands just until she could figure out that the doctor was only going to put his hands in her mouth to count her teeth, gently, but not before she'd gotten a good swipe at him, claws extended, drawing blood through his gloves. Eventually, she calmed a bit, although she was still crying. I released my grip, and he counted each tooth. Then came time for the hygienist to work her magic. Or not.
But we did get a little bit further than in past visits, Samantha allowing me to gently floss some of her teeth (wouldn't let the hygienist anywhere near her mouth), allowing me to try the electric tooth brush thingy out on her hand so she could see how it tickles, then eventually (an hour had passed by this time), with the aid of her pink Peltor headphones, allowing the hygienist to put it in her mouth.
Just for a moment.
But long enough for her to clean 4 (!!) teeth. Hey, it's a start!
So my question is this: How can I get past this anxiety and resistance (the dentist doesn't sedate for cleanings) when my insurance only covers 2 cleanings per year (even though no real cleaning actually occured)? So much time elapsing between events just creates more anxiety. I do wonder if Medicaid would pick up an interim cleaning, although I am doubtful. Maybe I can get Samantha to come to one of my cleanings somehow, except mine is tomorrow during my lunch break from work, which would be impossible for her.
It's really a no-win situation. I hate to see her like this. I hate not knowing if she has cavities or other issues we need to address immediately. I hate that she's got to go through a similar experience in just two weeks when she has an appointment with an orthodontist to discuss her underbite issues, although we will really stress to her that there will be nothing invasive, just a look at her mouth. And trust me, those appointments are going to involve a whole lot of sedation when we proceed with treatment.
Anyway, just a quick vent for today. I'm suitably jealous of all of you whose children face the dentist with grace, calm and sheathed claws. I know there are no real tricks, because I tried them. It's just something innate in our kids - some can, and some can't.