The one with the dentist

by DaniGirl on June 21, 2006 · 11 comments

in Uncategorized

I don’t know what makes me feel worse: that Tristan has had two appointments with the dentist recently; that one of them required a filling (with a second to follow in two weeks); or, that I completely forgot about one of the appointments and didn’t remember it until Beloved called me at work to tell me it had gone well.

I’ve slid from micromanaging the parenting of my children to being an absentee mom. Oh, the guilt.

Poor Tristan; I just don’t know what to do about his teeth. He had a couple of fillings last year, which I attributed to neglectful brushing on our part. After that appointment, I vowed to be more diligent, and we were. Except here we are, a year later, with two more fillings. The dentist assured Beloved that he simply has deep grooves in his teeth, and that’s where the cavities are hiding, but I still feel awful.

When he went for his first fillings last year, he went to a paediatric dentist who used gas to relax him before doing the work, but since he was fine during the exam appointment a few weeks ago, yesterday they just did the fillings in my family dentist’s office.

Beloved said he was a trooper, never squirmed or complained and did exactly what was asked of him. Maybe a fear of dentists is a nurture thing instead of a nature thing after all! (Sorry, Twinmomplusone – nothing personal, but I have a deep and abiding fear of dental procedures.) Beloved was highly impressed with the dentist herself, a new partner of my usual dentist. She told Tristan that she was putting the tooth to ‘sleep’, and that the cotton balls were pillows for the tooth to snooze on, and that she was cleaning out the ‘sugar bugs’. (That last one would have freaked me out, but it seemed to work for Tristan.)

Toothbrushing is an ongoing source of drama at our house, at least with the preschoolers. They both start out willingly enough, but I can’t get either of them to keep their mouths open long enough, or really give their teeth the scrubbing they need. There is much flailing and wriggling, a few threats, a lot of pouting, and some tears – every. single. time. we brush their teeth.

We’ve tried creative solutions, like telling the story of Tommy the Toothbrush and his visit to molar land. We’ve tried pinning them to the floor and just forcing them into submission. And we’ve tried most points on the spectrum in between. They always resist, they always complain, and it’s always annoying. We’ve just bought Tristan a new Spiderman electric toothbrush, and I’ll probably pick one up for Simon, too. Despite all that, though, toothbrushing is a battle of wills and tempers every single time.

If y’all are having the same struggles, I won’t feel so bad. (Hey look, misery does love company!) Any thoughts on how to make this a little easier?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 nancy June 21, 2006 at 12:58 pm

Poor Tristan, but also huurah Tristan for being such a Trooper!
We’ve never really had a problem (yet) but we also change toothbrushes/toothpaste regularly and let them choose their own.
My nieces used a little egg timer of sorts and the deal was they had to brush their teeth till the timer was over, worked for them, we haven’t had to use it (yet).
Tell them the Tooth Fairy won’t bring treats/money/surprise (whatever she brings in your house) to teeth that don’t get a good brushing…will they buy that one knowing she isn’t coming for 2 – 3 years yet??

2 Farm Mommy Kirsten June 21, 2006 at 1:07 pm

Awesome that Tristan was such a great kid during a procedure that makes most adults squirm! We too have struggled with the brushing issue and have heard our share of earsplitting screams over it.
I started letting Erich brush my teeth and he thought that was fun and then let me have a turn with his. We have an array of brushes available and he chooses the one which he would like to use. We also keep 2 kinds of kid-friendly paste so he has a choice of flavour each time. I try singing a song with lots of “eee” and “ah” sounds in it and that forces Erich’s mouth open and and makes him show me the fronts of this teeth so that I can get in there.
Don’t know if any of this will help. Good luck!

3 Sharon June 21, 2006 at 1:26 pm

OH tooth brushing. NOT easy here at all. I have to take Nathan YET to the dentist becasue I fear he will go nuts. If he doesn’t want to do it he won’t and nothing short of pinning him down will keep him in that chair.
We still use just water he will not use tooth paste at all. NOt matter what flavor. I’m sure he must have cavities by now. I’m afraid to find out. Although I will.
Kudos to Tristian for being so good. Could he should Nathan what a big boy he is?

4 BeachMama June 21, 2006 at 2:03 pm

We have our first appointment in September. We try hard to get two good brushings in a day, but have recently resorted to wrapping J in a towel so he can’t fight the brushings. Somehow the towel actually convinces him to let us brush easier!

5 twinmomplusone June 21, 2006 at 2:26 pm

Well, I feel compelled to throw in my 2 cents having been mentioned and all but bear with me, I was up late, I need a second cup of java and I’m not sure when I’ll be able to come back here
First of all kudos to you and beloved for bringing him to the dentist, starting early and with positive experiences is key. And kudos to Tristan for being such a trooper. He was obviously in good hands. Since you have a “thing” for dentists (don’t worry, doesn’t get to me, part of the course in my field) it may be a good thing that he went with beloved. Kids are extremely sensitive to parents’ feelings and will pick up on any anxiety that may be there. They will behave differetnly with one or the other.
As for the cavities, yes some kids have deeper grooves and pits on the chewing surface which are very difficult to keep clean and hence become “sticky” quite rapidly. Same scenario with our very own baby boy: went in last spring and there it was, a cavity!!! Needless to say, hubby and I were devastated. BUT like Tristan, better to fix when small.
As for the toothbrushing, we are all for those electric toothbrushes around here and the little ones each have two: Spiderman, dinosaur, Dora, princess. They’ll do it themselves during the day and we’ll do the supervised one at night. Along with, very important, flossing between those last molars. Only 4 spots so we get to count to 4;) different language every night 😉
How to make them do it more easily so its not a struggle? Let them pick their toothbrush and toothpaste. Do a family toothbrushing (if they see mom and dad do it it may help). Use a timer. Sing a song. Give each side, top and bottom a name (favorite Thomas engine, favorite people, etc.) To enhance good behavior, chart with stickers can always be effective with the incentive of some toy from the dollar store after a week of good brushing.
Good luck and you know where to reach me if you need any more info.
dentally yours

6 Phantom Scribbler June 21, 2006 at 3:21 pm

Just chiming to say that Sharon is not alone on the toothpaste-refusing, dentally delayed child. LG has his first dentist appointment in Sept. When he’ll be 5. Oy.

7 andrea from the fishbowl June 21, 2006 at 4:17 pm

Emma had a filling last year. The pediatric dentist they sent her to was amazing.
Her regular dentist has sealed Emma’s molars (with what exactly I don’t know) but it’s supposed to help prevent cavities. (On top of regular brushing/flossing of course) Is this an option for you guys?

8 Madeleine June 21, 2006 at 5:31 pm

Oh, the dental woes. I have terrible teeth with lots of cavities and felt guilty until my mid-twenties when a hygenist told me “You know your molars never sealed properly, don’t you?” So Yay! for blaming genetics not bad habits. Of course that suggests I have as much dental work in my future as my Mom has been having.
Snuggly Girl had her first cavity when she was three. And we had to have it re-filled when she was four. And the dentist coated the other three back molars, too, because the grooves are deep and vertical!
She’s not enthusiastic about brushing and when she was a toddler she gave me hell every night. But not Dada, if he took over it went more smoothly. So for us it was a power struggle and I still have to work not to make it one now. Yes, 3 brushes and two kinds of paste on the counter. Oral B Stages has this one that comes out of a dragon-fly shaped opening . . .

9 Nadine June 22, 2006 at 5:38 am

Well, I don’t think you’re alone in the world of kids refusing toothbrushing.
There are many others.
Yet, I feel like other moms with similar troubles should look up to you for your trying all to save your children’s teeth. Proud of you!
I even shared your story in my blog. If that’s ok with you. 😀

10 Jennifer June 22, 2006 at 7:42 am

At my son’s first appt he had FOUR cavities. With him we have got to the point where he just opens his mouth & I brush. It isn’t very fun and I don’t relish visiting him in college each night to brush his teeth.
My daughter is 2 (just barely) and she is a nightmare to brush. Mostly I pin her down. She thinks that’s funny.
So … you’re not alone!

11 DaniGirl June 22, 2006 at 12:07 pm

Thank you all for your comments, and welcome Nadine (and thanks for the link!)
Well, yesterday was a new low. I had to sit on Simon to pin his arms down, and he was furious. I’ve never seen him cry so hard, especially when I’m the cause. Ouch. We’ll keep trying, and I’m sure I’ll try each and every one of your suggestions. Thanks for the commiseration, at least.
xo Dani

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