I do not like going to the dentist.
Apparently, my earliest visits to the dentist ended with my screaming/shrieking/thrashing about so much so they prescribed some sort of tranquilizer for me to take pre-visit. Only the prescription needed to be crushed up because I didn’t take pills. And once crushed it tasted horrible, so my mother had to try to hide it in different foods.
It didn’t take me long to figure out if my mother was randomly offering me small bowls of applesauce, there was something in it and I didn’t want it.
It seems that most of my childhood dentists were Indian. Being a dentist or a doctor is a normal expectation for Indian kids. Unfortunately, I became a bit biased against Indian dentists. My early dentist, Dr. Desai, had a thick accent and very fat fingers. I clearly recall him asking me a question, while his fingers were in my mouth, and when I tried to answer him he told me to stop talking. Umm…
Back then, his staff spent a great deal of time trying to convince me that what I thought of as “pain” was actually “pressure.” I had teeth pulled, dry sockets, infected teeth, fillings, caps, crowns. I was given nitrous all.the.time. The work done on my mouth probably paid for all of Dr. Desai’s kids to go to medical school. Hint: I have bad teeth.
Only in my adulthood, after researching and finding the kindest, most awesome dentist ever, did I discover that I had difficulty getting numb because the nerves in my jaw are about an inch and a half deeper than normal. Turns out that all those years of me insisting I could feel them drilling my face off, I really could! Ha ha, Dr. Desai, you fat-fingered douche.
Because of my dental “issues”, I confess that I dragged my feet when it came to bringing my kids to the dentist. I was scared for them, but I was mostly scared that I’d freak out while they were in the chair and it would scar them forever. I have nearly passed out every time my kids have had surgery or been at the hospital. I didn’t think they needed my sympathy craziness.
When D was 4, I located a pediatric dentist in the mountain town in which we lived. Let me just say, pediatric dentistry has come a LOOONNNNGGGG way. Video games in the waiting room. Televisions in the ceiling. Toys and games every where, kid-friendly dental assistants. I wanted to go to this dentist. D had some minor work done – he had “pits” in a few back teeth that were sealed, and a few small cavities filled. He had one larger cavity that needed to be taken care of but we moved cross-country before we could get it addressed. Sadly, I waited 2 years to find a pediatric dentist in my new city.
I brought the kids to the dentist for the first time here last week. Nothing puts your parenting on trial quite like that first trip to the dentist. “Do they floss?” they asked me innocently, and I nearly snorted. Floss? E can’t sit still long enough for me to trim her bangs evenly. Of course they don’t floss. And I don’t floss them. Yes, they brush their teeth twice a day (most of the time…). No, I don’t brush their teeth, but sometimes I will go over them after they’ve done it.
The kids appointment was completely different from what any of mine had been like as a child. For example, nobody restrained them. That was a nice change. The hygienist gave D a fluoride treatment, which when I last had one of those it was similar to medieval torture – left alone in the dental chair with trays filled with fluoride covering both the top and bottom teeth, with the only instructions being “DON”T SWALLOW IT!” so instead I drooled all down the front of me – only when D had his the hygienist sat next to him and SUCTIONED his mouth out so he didn’t swallow or drool. I was impressed.
Turns out, the kids have cavities. Apparently I should have been flossing them. So now every night they brush their teeth, then one of us will re-brush for them, then floss them, then they rinse with ACT. FYI – flossing your children’s teeth is gross. Not as gross as flossing my own, but still pretty gross.
But it has inspired me to be more invested in my own teeth. I am flossing more regularly now. Because really, I’d like to not have to fork over a billion dollars at every dental visit.
I have my own kids to put through college, Mr. Dentist. Be gentle.