Thursday, April 26, 2012

Goin' to the Dentist

Anyone involved in foster care knows that there are multiple required appointments that often times make no sense.  My personal favorite is the mandatory dental visits for all children over 6 months of age.  "Yes, Dr. Dentist, I realize my baby has no teeth and eats nothing but formula and rice and will flat out refuse to open his mouth for you, but CPS requires that I bring him to your office to pretend to have his bi-annual check-up regardless."  Because let's be honest...  That dentist most likely isn't going to get a decent look into your infant's mouth during that first visit.

My kiddos' reactions to the dentist have been all over the place.  We started with 16-year-old Angel who I don't think had ever been to the dentist before.  Poor girl was terrified, but after a bit of "happy juice," some laughing gas, and much bribing on my part, she finally made it into the chair for her x-rays.  Yep.  That was just for the x-rays!  She eventually became an old pro after lots of fillings and a root canal.  Not fun (to say the least), but she got some healthier teeth out of the deal, and finally started showing her teeth when she smiled.  I think it was well worth it.  Or course, she might not see it that way.  ;-)

Twelve-month-old Little Miss never even made it past the lobby.  We were the first appointment of the day and the only patient there at the time.  The "dentist" (and I use that term loosely) walked into the reception area, sat in a chair across from me in the waiting room, asked me if I brush her teeth (to which I replied, "of course"), told her she was pretty, and then left...  Never to be seen again.  Your tax money at work...  Don't you feel all warm and fuzzy now?

Booger Bear was a riot at the dentist.  That kid loved to brush his teeth, and he was so excited about his second bi-annual exam.  At 16 months old, Booger walked into the dentist office, marched straight up to the receptionist desk, and said, "Teeth, peace."  (Translation, "I'm here for you to brush my teeth, please." :-)  When the dental assistant called his name, he completely left his gimpy Mimi behind (I was still hobbling around in a fracture boot after having broken my leg) and ran off with her!  I slowly made my way to the back to find my toddler flirting with not one, but three dental assistants.  The dentist came and he smiled big and showed her his teeth.  He was all smiles and happy...  until she put the toothbrush in his mouth and began brushing with what was apparently the wrong kind of toothpaste.  The moment was ruined, and Booger Bear was simply a bear until we got home and I let him brush his teeth with the "right" toothpaste.

All of this rambling was actually to build up to the week before Monkey went to live with his daddy, and I took him for his first dental visit.  I felt the need to document it because, well, HO-LEE MO-LEE!!!  While it will probably come back to haunt me in my nightmares, I figured I might as well get it down in writing to allow others to experience the craziness of that one hour visit as well.  Misery loves company.  You are welcome.  :-)

It began innocently enough...  Monkey was thrilled silly that I picked him up from daycare early, and chattered away the whole way to the dentist office.  I pulled out the umbrella stroller, strapped him in, and headed inside.  I should have known it wasn't going to go well.  The second Monkey spotted a woman in scrubs, he lost it.  Trying to escape the stroller, huge tears welling up in his eyes, sobbing...  We had just had a few traumatizing visits at the doctor, so he was in the "people in those clothes hurt you" mode.  I was able to coax him out of the stroller to play in the waiting room long enough to fill out all of the paperwork (You know the forms.  The ones that ask you all about the pregnancy, birth questions, etc. that you have to answer with "Great question!  I have no idea."), and the "Scary Scrub Ladies" intentionally stayed out of sight hoping Monkey would forget they were there.  :-)

Then the dental assistant came for us, and the tears started again.  I decided to hold Monkey while we went into a windowed screening room for our "teeth cleaning lesson."  After so many little ones, I've been through that same lesson many times before.  It makes me laugh every time.  "Brush in a circular motion..."  Blah, blah, blah.  Sweetie, I know you're just doing your job by telling me this, but have you ever actually been able to "brush in a circular motion" on a teething toddler's teeth?  Trust me, I'm doing good to get the toothbrush in the mouth before he clamps down on it and I have to wiggle it back and forth, side to side in order to get it out.  That's as good as it's gonna get!

At this point, Monkey was beginning to do really well.  Scary Scrub Lady was sitting on the opposite side of the desk, and made no move to touch him.  He seemed to be making friends with the receptionist on the other side of the window as he blew her kisses, smiled, and waved.  That's when he overheard Scary Scrub Lady ask me "What kind of snacks does he eat?"  Monkey's head whipped around so fast I'm surprised he didn't get whiplash!  "Nack???  Nack???  Nack???"  Clearly a word he recognized, and suddenly Scary Scrub Lady wasn't so scary anymore.  :-)

We made our way back to the exam room with Monkey's new entourage (by then, he was eating up all of the attention from the ladies).  That's when he caught sight of what were clearly "medical type instruments," and that bottom lip went out.  The dentist came in and sat down to talk to me.  He eyed her warily, but didn't cry. That is, he didn't cry until she made the grievous error of touching him in order to look in his mouth.  There was no getting him back after that.  He freaked out to the point of hyperventilation.  No amount of gifts or bribery could convince him that everything was going to be okay.  He screamed non-stop bloody murder for the remainder of the visit.  Fortunately, they couldn't get us out of there fast enough after that.  ;-)

So that was my good deed for the year.  Taking Monkey to the dentist so his daddy wouldn't have to do it...

As crazy as I think it is having to take infants to the dentist, at least I think I've finally found one that I like!  Even if they did practically lock the door behind us when we left.  :-)


The Campbell's Journey said...

The more I read other foster care blogs the more I feel blessed about where we live and how our "system" works. Fortunately I have never had the pleasure of visiting the dentist. We are required to take them at the age of 3. I have not had a placement make it to that age yet until now. I have heard horror stories about the whole 2 dentists who take medicaid in our area. My J just turned 3 and I have conveniently "forgotten" to schedule his dentist appointment. When his new case manager that hasn't contacted me yet decides to introduce herself to me and asks me to make the appointment, then I'll think about it :)

Jenny said...

I remember similar experiences when our Payton was still our foster daughter. Dental exams started at 6 months, then they wanted us to come back every 3 months. Seriously, every 3 months for an infant with 2 teeth! And like Monkey, she screams anytime someone with scrubs gets anywhere near her. Now that we've adopted her and her Medicaid has shifted, I'm definitely putting off scheduling the next appointment...

FootPrints said...

6 months? i didnt even know dentists would see a 6 month old!
our rule is 1 years least they have some teeth by then!

Stormy Glazier said...

From a 16 year-old to a 12-month old child – I can say, that’s a huge challenge for you. Well, going to the dentist with your kids can truly be a challenge for parents. I’m glad that you managed the situation well. Pulling strategies like bribing, telling a story, and so on seemed to have helped you calm your kids down and made them comfortable being at the clinic.

Stormy @

Calandra Novak said...

I think that dental visit went fine, don't you think so? Haha! I can only imagine the extensive work you had to do to bring all of your children at the dental clinic, and have their teeth checked and cleaned. It's common for kids to be scared of the dentist. Mainly because they don't know these people, and have no idea what's going to happen. Briefing them of what they should expect while in the dentist's chair and why they have to do it will make them feel at ease.
Dr. Steven Cadee at Mullaloo Dental Centre

Jeff Wade said...

It might not have been the perfect idea of a first dental visit, but your child was still able to finish his appointment, at least. It might not have been easy for you and everyone in the clinic, but expect something like this when you have kids. They’re not easy to deal with, sometimes. You just have to be patient and understanding.

Jeff Wade @ Spring Branch Dental

Richard C. Lambert said...

That dentist most likely isn't going to get a decent look into your infant's mouth during that first visit. dental appointment

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