Even for an adult, there’s a lot to be leery of at the dentist’s office. You think you’re doing an alright job brushing your teeth, but you never know what secrets are lurking back there in the crevices of your molars, do you? Stains form where you can’t see them. Holes mysteriously appear that need filling. I love how my teeth feel after a cleaning, but going in for one can be a fraught experience.
When I think back to seeing the dentist as a little kid, I recall Mr. Sucky, the clear plastic tube who syphoned the spit and kept me from drooling all over yourself, and the bubble gum flavored toothpaste that led me to associate sweetness with cleanliness. You know how the dentist aims that interrogator’s spotlight on your mouth? I used to stare up at it till I saw a big white spot in the center of my vision. I still do on some visits.
So I had no idea how best to prepare my son for his first trip to the dentist. I was worried, for sure. This is a little kid who doesn’t like staying in his seat till he’s done dinner, even during a delicious meal he enjoys like pizza or pasta. How would he be able to keep his mouth open for an uncomfortably long period of time? And I’ve already written about his dislike of following directions, especially when delivered by authority figures who are more interested in results than sweet talk. Our dentist is an amazingly thorough guy, but his chair-side manner is all business. “Open wider. Tilt to the left. Spit.” How would Felix respond to the sharp voice of dental authority?
Turned out he did just fine. Wonderful, even. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Felix!” the hygienists cooed on his way out of the door. The kid can be a real charmer. He met me in the waiting room, beaming with a mouthful of glistening white lil’ chompers, a crumpled “Number 1 Patient” sticker in one hand and a new toothbrush in the other.
It wasn’t magic, people. We’d been working with him for a while beforehand to prepare him for his visit. Click on to find out how!