Monday, December 10, 2012

Successful (Home) Dentistry

Notmypic
After last week's rant here about Samantha's failed visit to the dentist, after receiving so much thoughtful advice and so many great ideas on how to turn the situation from fear and anxiety to calm and cooperation, I knew I had a tough road ahead of us, but felt that it could be done, felt empowered to make it work.  My mother, faithful reader of my blog, ran out and bought a children's photo book about what to expect when visiting the dentist.  When Samantha saw it on Saturday, she was hooked.  She wanted to read it again and again, and by the time we left to return home from my mother's house on Sunday morning, all Samantha could talk about on the car ride was how she wanted me to play dentist with her. 

Yep, you read correctly...

My kid, whose favorite game in the whole wide world is to play doctor, actually wanted now to play dentist

Hoo boy... 

Let's see...I'm fortunate enough to have a kid that's cool with having her teeth brushed twice a day, who has finally (mostly) learned how to spit (and who takes great pleasure in trying to spit all over the bathroom mirror rather than in the sink...). But she's a kid who will absolutely not let me floss, let alone open her mouth for a dentist.  Now, how to present the experience in a way that she'll remember, absorb, embrace?  I'm still a realist, and I know that even though she can play a good game, can say yes to all the right questions, obey even the most hated requests when it's just play (like giving shots, putting on bandaids, etc.), I imagine that baby steps are still steps in the right direction, and being as desperate as I am right now to see some kind of success, I will do whatever it takes to get her thinking positive thoughts about visits to a dentist.

Excited to get started, she complied with my request to lie down on her bed, head back on her pillow.  I explained that I was her dentist, and that I wasn't going to hurt her, that I just wanted to look at her teeth and clean them.  She opened her mouth for me to count her teeth...10 on the top, 10 on the bottom (I just read today that she should end up with something like 32 when all the adult teeth have come in - holy cow!  Where will they all go???).  I tapped each one with the bottom of her toothbrush as I went.  I commented on how beautiful her teeth are, said I wanted to make sure they were going to grow strong and healthy, both excellent buzzwords for my kid. 

Then I took her toothbrush and brushed them carefully, explaining that the dentist will be using a different toothbrush, an electric one that tickles her teeth and gums, like the one she let me show her by trying it out on her hand at the dentist's office last week. 

I figured since she was having such a good time up to this point, it may be a good opportunity to push the limits a bit. 

"Hey, Sammi, let's floss!"

"Okay!" she said. 

(Excuse me, did I hear you correctly?  I think you just said, "okay" to flossing...)

And that's just what we did.  Each. and. every. tooth. 

Seriously. 

I told her I'd like to do that every day, that it will help to make sure that there's nothing stuck between her teeth and keep them healthy, that I'll do it daily, too (good way to get me in compliance as well), and she nodded in agreement. 

SUCCESS!!

Friday she has an appointment with the orthodontist.  As it's just a consultation, and I doubt he'll want to do anything more than just look in her mouth, feel her jaw, etc., I went through what I thought he'd do with her, reassuring her that he wouldn't do anything in her mouth (gotta make sure Steve explains this to the guy when he gets there so we don't freak her out!).  A couple of encouraging things about this orthodontist - he takes Medicaid, was recommended to me by another mother of a child with Down syndrome, and, as I discovered through casual conversation at my own teeth cleaning this week, my own dentist highly recommends him, and said he's great with kids (note to self:  remind Steve to drop my dentist's name at the appointment on Friday. just for added insurance of a happy visit).  As for Sammi's dentist she's been going to for the last few years, I think it's time to kick him to the curb and look for someone else.  Neither Steve nor I are terribly impressed with him, and I'm sure just that lack of clicking with us must also be felt by Samantha, having an awful lot to do with her negative experiences.  My own hygienist used to work for another pediatric dentist in the area who takes Medicaid, and she said she's amazing.  Gotta check her out for the next appointment in June.

On a completely different note, I got the proof for Sammi's re-taken class photo for the yearbook back this morning. 

Let's just say I've already put in a request to submit my own photo of her instead.

Just as with the dentist, she can talk a good game, tell us she'll do it, show us her happy-face pose she's promised us she'll give the photographer, and then, when the moment arrives, her shoulders slouch, her head goes down, her forehead furrows, her arms cross, and her bottom lip goes out in the biggest pout you've ever seen.  So why does she give the most beatific smile for the photographers at all the Santa sittings?  Is it because Mommy is standing behind them with her own camera?  So I've decided that next year I will go to the class-picture shoot myself and make sure the job's done right. 

*sigh*  



12 comments:

Anna Theurer said...

Wow! Sammi is amazing :-) Smart grandma on getting the dentist book to get it all started.

Leah said...

Clever mama. So happy you had this success after so much worry. Yay!

The Sumulong 3 said...

Awesome!! Sounds like she's making a good turn around on this. Wondering what the name of the book was that Grandma bought her? I'd like to try to work on tackling this with Owen sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...

I've seen inexpensive battery powered Disney themed "electric" toothbrushes in the stores here in Canada. I imagine they are there in the States, too. Why not play dentist with an electric toothbrush so that she can get that experience of vibrating instruments in her mouth?

K.Anderson

Becca said...

I'll check when I get home to see what the book is called...

And K. - we used to have a battery-op toothbrush for her, and she liked it, but it needed to be replaced and we haven't used it in a very, very long time. I actually went out lastnight and bought a new one for her! Can't wait to see how she does with it!

Lisa said...

that is excellent progress! Go Sammi - of course a book was the key with your little bookworm. Very impressed that you pushed it and got her to floss and everything. Our dentist gives the kids sunglasses which I think helps both of my girls a little - one because it dulls that light shining right in their eyes, two its something different and growup feeling.

Rochelle said...

YAHOO Sammi that is awesome. It took Dariya 11 months for me to be able to use the Oral B power brush on her once we arrived home but now it makes the dentist visits so much easier as it is more like their polisher.
Our dentist always calls their straw they suck up the water with Mr. Slurpy and our kids all get a big giggle out of that.
So glad you have had such success. She will do great!

Chromosomally Enhanced said...

Brilliant! Seriously! Smiles

Wren said...

Sutter hates the dentist - I may need to find a good dentist book before his next appt in March! Thankfully he loves to stand at the sink and let me brush and floss so I guess that's a plus...oh and the spit all over the place I have that x2! :) The boys bathroom mirror and sink are in a constant state of gross!

Nan said...

Wwoo-hoo! What an amazing turnaround! YOu have an amazing mom! We were lucky, we had a dentist (and hygenists and an orthodontist) at our children's hospital that took care of Jess. BEcause of the cranial issues with DS, the orthodontia was covered by our health care. BUT the brilliant part was that the dentist, when studying dentristry, took an elective in hypnosis! And so he uses his voice to subtly hypnotise his patients into calmness. Oh my, he was such a great dentist with JEss! We found the other thing that helped was, because she hated to lie prone because it made her feel extra vulnerable, we first started with her sitting up, then I would hold my hand behind her head and have her push back into prone position (you can easily judge how much to "give") and she felt as if she was always in control. But it looks like you've already got that covered! I do have to admit tho, that at one point, with teeth extractions etc... we did have to go the papoose route. That was yucky. Keep us posted! Now YOU can write a book!

Christina Allred said...

Wow! I wonder if the book will work for my girls getting fillings?! It's definitely worth a shot...

Glad you finally achieved success!

Lisa Morguess said...

This is so awesome, Rebecca!