Today the kids went to the dentist for the first time. I wanted to take them when I thought they were ready for it and Hannah was definitely not ready until now.
The office I took them to was very kid-oriented as was obvious right from the get-go. My own dentist is great with adults, but not great with kids, so I had to do some looking around for a dentist that caters to children. I'm very happy to say that Hannah exceeded my expectations and cooperated fully, even leaving the office with a smile. Two years ago this would not have happened.
Seth was a different story, but it wasn't because he was afraid. For a change, he just didn't feel like cooperating.
From the moment the hygenist called us in (Hannah went first, accompanied by her dad, and I went in with Seth after) he let her know that he didn't want her looking in his mouth. So she began the task of winning him over, and started by giving him chair rides. Making a game out of everything, she put a bib on him - which he protested about, promptly removing one side - but eventually got him to keep it on.
After showing him the suction hose and actually convincing him to try it out on his finger (I was amazed), she gave him some cool sunglasses to wear so the bright light wouldn't bother his eyes - a sure sign that this office was kid-friendly.
She then began the most difficult task of trying to convince him to open his mouth so she could look inside with the "little mirror". This was met with a half dozen firm "no's", so she asked him if he would feel better if she started by sticking her finger in his mouth instead. Seth answered with this dire warning:
"If you stick your finger in my mouth, I'm going to BITE it!"
Deciding that her finger was a necessary part of her job, she did manage to get him to open his mouth a little bit, inserting the little mirror. He promptly bit down on it. This happened a couple of times - all the while he was playing with his cool sunglasses, slightly distracted - until he gradually started opening his mouth more. The hygenist never lost even one ounce of patience with him.
Another hygenist overheard her coaxes, so she decided it would help if she brought Seth his own mirror so he could observe what she was doing.
And so the King of the World emerged. The kid was totally in awe of himself. I mean, here was this dude with totally cool red sunglasses, lying back on a bed. Being waited on by a beautiful princess, no less. How much better could things get? She had much more success hereafter because the King became absorbed in staring at himself in the mirror and for the most part was not concentrating on her. She asked him what kind of toothpaste he wanted.
"Raspberry?" she asked.
"I don't like raspberry," he responded.
"Bubble gum?" she asked.
"I don't like bubble gum."
"I don't like mint," was the typical response.
I interceded and suggested very strongly that raspberry would be the best choice, knowing his preferences. So, she began polishing his back tooth, for which he managed to sit still for about 2.5 seconds.
"I don't like raspberry."
"What kind do you like?" was her patient reply.
She went in search of strawberry, and returned with some. She began polishing his teeth again. For another 2.5 seconds.
"I don't like strawberry. I want raspberry."
I informed him, because I was losing patience (even though St. Margarite wasn't at all) that this was the last time he was getting different toothpaste. He was sticking with raspberry.
So, while the King-In-The-Mirror watched, she managed to successfully clean his teeth. I was totally impressed.
The dentist came in then and, totally relaxed now, the King cooperated for the last three minutes of his visit.
The whole visit was 45 minutes. Approximately three minutes was with the dentist, five minutes were spent cleaning his teeth, and 37 minutes were spent in cajoling, coaxing, begging, pleading, and eventual death threats. But at least he left his first visit to the dentist completely untroubled by the whole experience.
That hygenist deserves a medal.
And I need some Tylenol.