Thursday, March 15, 2007

Visit to the Dentist

I can't believe I forgot to tell you about Padyn's first trip to the dentist on Monday! I didn't take my camera because I just knew she wasn't going to let me capture the moment on film, but I'll try to share it with you in such a way as to create a picture in your head just as clear on a photo would be. OK, maybe not. But I'll tell you about it anyway.

First, you have to know that Padyn's dentist, Dr. N, is a good friend of ours. Her husband was a friend and fellow nerd (a.k.a. Engineer) of Joel's at Davis. So, it's not like Padyn had never met Dr. N before. She's interacted with her socially for years. She knew who she was going to see.

Did that matter? No. She went to bed Sunday night saying she didn't want to go to the dentist in the morning. The first words out of her mouth Monday morning upon waking were "I don't want to go to the dentist." She was weepy all morning. I really don't understand where this came from. We hadn't talked much about going to the dentist. She had read the book Dr. N sent to her a week before, but that was it. I talked to her about visiting the dentist as I do any fact of life, calmly and without extra information: We're going to the dentist. We go every 6 months. The dentist is going to check your teeth and keep them healthy. You know, not making a big deal out of it.

Padyn apparently had picked up from somewhere that it was a big deal and was something to be fearful of. As soon as we got in the car, she covered her mouth with her arm and hand. Her mouth remained covered for the next 30 minutes-in the car, in the parking lot, in the reception area, playing with the puzzles, and looking at the Nemo fish. (Isn't that cute? A dentist office with clown fish in their fish tank?) She continued to cry. I did my best to remain calm and not scream at her to stop crying. I was still thinking through the best way to deal with the mess without getting upset with her when Dr. N came out to greet us and walk us back to the exam area. When Padyn saw Dr. N, she calmed a bit and stopped crying, but her mouth remained covered.

Dr. N was awesome. She knows perfectly how to handle children. She is a pediatric dentist, after all. But I was so impressed with how calm and unflustered by Padyn's behavior she was. She talked to Padyn as if she wasn't crying, didn't mention the fact that her mouth was covered, didn't coddle or feel sorry for her. She just kept talking and asking her questions until finally Padyn stopped whimpering and talked back-without her mouth covered. Then, when Dr. N offered her a Dora or a Dragon Tales video, that was it. Padyn was won over. She sat in the dental chair with her mouth wide open for the next 20 minutes. She kept her mouth open even when it didn't need to be. She was so eager to please Dr. N and show her what a good patient she was. She got her teeth counted, polished, brushed with fluoride and even flossed. She smiled when Dr. N took a Polaroid picture of her at the end. She talked to everyone who would listen for the rest of the day about what a bright smile she had. She's wanted to floss her teeth every night AND brush twice a day since then.

Utterly amazing turn around. I'm interested to see what happens in September when her next appointment comes around.

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