She Says… Dentist Drama

Or… lack of drama.

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We took Owen for his 2nd visit to the dentist last week. Technically it should have been his 3rd or 4th, since we went for the first time when he around 1, and you’re supposed to go every 6 months, but, well, we didn’t. And I figured that we went for his first appointment earlier than most, so we really weren’t very far behind from a normal kid’s schedule. In the meantime, though, we did floss and brush his teeth every night (except for the random babysitter night, who I ask to “try, but if it doesn’t work out, don’t worry about it”).

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Lucky for us, Benjamin’s dad is a pediatric dentist (remember the Q&A he did 2 years ago?), and getting to see Pop at work is a total treat! In fact, he is still Benjamin’s and my dentist (ahem, don’t laugh, yes we still go to a pediatric dentist) too. Owen sees another dentist in the practice, since Pop will likely retire while Owen is going there, and we didn’t want to blur the line between family and doctor for him.

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The visit was awesome. Owen recently got an electric toothbrush (with Thomas the train on it, ohmigoshsoexciting!), so he was totally pumped to bring it to the dentist and show him. Everyone in the office hears all about Owen all the time, so he got quite the warm welcome when we arrived. The first time we visited, Owen was too little to really understand anything about where we were and what was happening. So all they did was take a peek in his mouth and talked to me about dental hygiene habits. This time, though, we were hoping to do a full cleaning and take a closer look.

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Owen’s dentist was AWESOME. He was relaxed and cool about the whole visit, he let Owen chat all about his toothbrush and hold the mirrors and play with the tools and wear sunglasses so the light wouldn’t bother his eyes. He knew exactly how to ask Owen to lay down so he could look in his mouth, and even had Owen helping him to count his teeth while he poked around with a tool. He loved picking out his toothpaste flavor and the cleaning was super easy. THIS, my friends, is the advantage to a true pediatric dentist, rather than just taking your kids to a regular dentist. Owen was having so much fun!

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Of course, when he was finished, he got to pick out a toy for being such a good patient. He wanted one of everything, naturally, and kept saying, “When I come back next time, I’m going to get one of THOSE.”. Whatever works to get him excited about going back to the dentist!

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For anyone in the Metrowest Boston area looking for a pediatric dentist, the place where we went is Pediatric Dentistry.

After we went to the dentist I happened to be reading an article in Parents Magazine that had a terrifying article in it. It started by telling a story of a 5-year-old kid whose dental x-rays showed 5 cavities, including 3 in his molars that were so severe, they couldn’t be fixed by fillings (he had to get extensive work, including “baby root canals”). Remembering back to my own childhood of being terrified of getting a cavity at every checkup, I can not IMAGINE the horror of finding out your kid has to be put under anesthesia to treat something that could have been avoided (or at least dramatically reduced) by daily flossing and brushing. It’s astonishing. I thought kids didn’t get cavities until they were much older, but apparently I was wrong. And, even though they have baby teeth when they are so young, the dentist can’t just extract them or “let them be” because adult teeth won’t grow in properly. Brushing and flossing for your child until age 6 (says Parents magazine) is really, really serious.

So thankful to have started flossing and brushing so young, and already crossing my fingers that we can avoid cavities as long as possible.

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13 responses to “She Says… Dentist Drama

  1. Kate, how do you floss with Owen? We brush our 2.5 year old’s teeth daily but the times I’ve tried to floss I’ve been in danger of having my finger bitten … do you use regular floss?

  2. @Kate, It’s not always easy! We’ve been doing it for a while, so we have the same “rules” as brushing. Mouth open, say “ahh”. Sometimes we sing a song on “ah” so that he keeps his mouth open. We have DEFINITELY been bitten before. Nowadays we are only chomped on by accident when he tries to talk while we’re flossing. I’ve started saying, “I can’t talk to you until you cooperate and say ah”. You could also count down so they know how long the flossing will take. It takes a lot of practice and in the beginning, most nights are just playing with the floss in his mouth to get him used to it.

    My father-in-law has said, though, that even if you didn’t brush at all, and only just flossed between the back teeth every day, you’d be greatly decreasing cavities (since they usually show up between the back teeth).

  3. I feel compelled to comment on this post just for informational purposes! I’m extremely diligent (read: a little OCD) about dental care! My son who is 6 has been going to the dentist since age 2, he is great about brushing and flossing with our assistance. He drinks mostly water with an occasional glass of milk and rarely has juice. He doesn’t like any sort of hard candy, so no worries about the damage that sort of sweet can do. Imagine my shock and horror when at age four we discovered 8 cavities! He is one of those sad little kids who had to be put under anesthesia to have 8 crowns placed on all his back teeth. The dentist was able to determine through x-rays that he has an enamel defect and is missing an entire layer of enamel on his teeth which means despite obsessive tooth care, he still gets cavities. We’re hoping that his adult teeth won’t have the same defect but won’t know until they come in. Just a little off topic, but I think still important for people to know that not all tooth decay is the the result of parents not taking dental care serious(not implying you are making this judgment).

  4. I love how Owen had such a great time! I wish we had such a great experience when we went. My 2 1/2 year old cried her eyes out and had to be forcibly held down. So sad. In fact, we are due back in a few weeks for her next check up. Ugh! We are good about brushing but really do need to start flossing. I’m scared!
    Bonus for the baby bump shot! Love it!

  5. The comment above is actually a good point. We did a lab during one of my college science labs where we swabbed our mouth and then watched the growth on an agar plate for a week. Some people have a bacteria that causes cavities and some have a whole lot less. Mine barely grew anything and I’ve never had a cavity nor do I floss ever… But I am way impressed with how good he was at his appointment!!!

  6. We use those little disposable floss pics to floss our 3yo. We also brush and floss on the floor, with her laying down, so we can really make sure we are getting all the teeth. We started doing this at 18 months, after her first visit to the dentist. The hygentist was awesome and told us that if she struggles, to lay her down in between our legs, face up, with her arms trapped under our thighs. That way she can’t get her arms out and her legs kick away from your face. We did this for a week and she got it. Now there is no restraining needed- she knows what to do. It’s awful at the moment, but brushing and flossing is non-negotiable in our house. And like I said, we have been doing this for 18 months now (she’s almost 3.5) and no restraining needed anymore.

  7. @Laura, I am so sorry to hear that! What a sad experience to have to go through, especially after being so diligent about brushing and flossing. I didn’t mean to imply that at all — I completely agree that there are hereditary/other issues that definitely impact cavities beyond just brushing and flossing.

    When I started to read the Parents magazine article, I have to admit, I felt a bit smug reading that the kid with all of those cavities drank juice and ate candy. I felt like he was in a different category from Owen, who, like your son, drinks mostly water and some milk and doesn’t eat candy. Then I kept reading the article and it went on to say that the mother’s cavity history and even the bacteria in her mouth can have a huge impact on the child’s oral health, even with regular brushing and flossing. I had no idea! You make an excellent point — I’ve never heard of this enamel issue but I’m so sorry you have had to deal with it.

    @Megan, Fingers crossed this time is better! Sorry your first time at the dentist was so rough. I wondered if anyone would comment on my baby bump pic 🙂

    @Amber, That is so interesting! I wish I could say the same for myself. Your kids are likely going to be the same (according to the Parents article). That’s so awesome.

    @Liz M., Great point about the flossers! We’ve never tried them, but I’ve heard they can be great. And totally agree about flossing/brushing on the floor in that position. They showed us that at our first appointment and it worked really well for us as well. In the last few months Owen has switched to standing at the sink (like Mommy and Daddy), but along with this change came a willingness to participate in the routine himself and a general understanding that this was non-negotiable.

  8. Kids don’t see the dentist here until age THREE. I called when he turned 1 to see when I was supposed to take him in and they told me to wait until he was 3 because it was kind of “pointless.” I was so shocked, especially given this topic on your blog from before. So he won’t get his first visit until this summer!

  9. Loved the story, great photos, and okay, maybe I kinda sorta tiny bit have the hots for that dentist. He’s cute! (And personally really don’t like the dentist… wonder if he’d take me on as a patient?).
    We did a great Pediatric Dentist expert speaker webinar at Isis last month called Teeth, Teething and Toddler Oral Care: anyone is welcome to watch the recording – really good for parents of infants or young toddlers just getting started in the wide world of oral hygiene 🙂
    http://www.isisparenting.com/event/page/pageCode/onlineclasses#pstwbnrs

    REALLY glad the “Dental Drama” had a happy beginning, middle and ending – I kept waiting for the bad/sad news or drama to kick in.. and it didn’t! Yay Owen!

  10. 1. How freakin cute is that bump of yours?!?
    2. Ok… I admit it… I don’t floss Ryan’s teeth. I’m now sufficiently scared and will start doing this. His teeth thank you. 😉

  11. Love the baby bump!! Can’t wait to see more (nudge nudge LOL)!

    I teach kindergarten and it blows my mind how many of these poor kiddos have terrible teeth. I have never assumed that it’s due to lack of care, I’ve always figured it has to do with genetics and/or malnutrition because of where I teach (very high poverty area). One of my kiddos has had a bunch of appointments recently and I found out he grinds his teeth! His poor mom brushes them every morning and more recently has had his teeth just start crumbling away. I definitely want to go get my hands on that article! We’ve been really lucky with our daughter, she’s never had any problems with her teeth – and I hope it stays that way.

  12. Totally off subject…totally loving your bump!!!

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