To be honest I’ve been putting off taking A to the Dentist for a while.
I imagined crazy screaming and that it would be absolutely unbearable alone, so simply decided that I wasn’t going to do it by myself. My plan was to wait until my husband was free. He has a knack for lovingly encouraging my daughter to do things that she is scared of. Great strategy. But I kind of didn’t check when my husband was free. I didn’t try to co-ordinate his work at home dates with dental appointment dates. In the salsa of toddler life, I didn’t make a Dentist appointment.
Months of procrastination and two whole years of A’s life later, I decided enough was enough. When brushing her teeth I noticed she had a molar coming in which had a flap of skin on it which looked a bit odd to me. She had also had most of her teeth for at least a year.
I booked a dentist appointment for just us two.
To try to prepare her, I spoke to her about the ‘Doctor for teeth’; she likes doctors and has good understanding about what they do.
We spoke about how Dentists are really nice and help to look after our teeth. I even broke my basically zero screen time rule to show her a Youtube video of a child visiting the dentist.
This week we had our appointment.Everything was fine until we got into the Dentist’s room. As usual she keenly observed everything and seemed fine as I placed her on a chair with her favourite toys as my teeth got checked. With my limited vision, I noticed that she watched as my teeth were examined with a mirror and then cleaned. However,when I was done and no longer horizontal, I could see that she had tears in her eyes as she watched me ardently. I think the noise from the cleaning equipment must have scared her; she hates the vacuum cleaner. She may have also been worried about me. She gave me a small, brave smile.
When it was her turn to get her teeth checked initially she did not want to go on the dentist’s chair with me although I managed to coax her onto it. She sat on my lap and did not want to open her mouth. She held ferociously onto ‘baby’, her beloved doll.
Luckily the Dentist was good with children. She spoke to her about looking at her doll’s teeth. She asked her questions whilst managing to get a quick glimpse of her mouth. The dentist explained to me that everything she could see looked great. She also reassured me that the flap of skin on her molar was common when teeth are coming in. The Dentist did not want to push A further, as she was mindful that she wanted her to feel comfortable at future visits. My daughter got a sticker. We agreed that we would try again in 6 months.
I feel bad that I left the appointment so long. A part of me also feels a bit useless, as I did not manage to get A to open her mouth although I know that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.
Seeing the tears in her eyes after I got my teeth cleaned makes me realise that although my daughter is very independent and clever, emotionally she is truly 2 years old and needs my support.
We’ll try again in 6 months. Next time, I’m definitely checking my husband’s diary and will be taking him with us. I’m also vowing to take some time out to schedule fixed appointments for the year ahead so that I do not get distracted by life and book appointments in good time.
Any tips for taking a toddler to the Dentist and getting them to actually open their mouth?
I hope you’re having a good week