There are a few things in life that make me feel as privileged as Ivana Marie Zelníčková Syrovatka Trump Mazzucchelli Rubicondi. Things that make me grateful to live in this century, to have been born in a developed, prosperous country, and to have a husband who slaves daily to keep us in Mountain Dew and whole milk.
These things include listening to classical music, buying a new hardbound book (the kind with the thick, carefully-but-unevenly-cut pages), and sharing a Happy Meal with my kids as we grocery shop. Like a pedicure for the soul, these things make me feel pampered and indulged.
Another thing that makes me feel spectacularly spoiled, especially after having lived in Egypt, is taking my kids to the pediatric dentist. That all this equipment and education and attention is lavished on the teeth of my little ones overwhelms me.
Sally has been going regularly to the dentist since she was four. The ADA is recommending kids go as early as two-years old, but I think they just want to make more money. As long as everything looks good to the pediatrician, and you are a conscientious mom, serving the flouridated tap water and ensuring brushing and flossing on a monthly basis (kidding — at least weekly!), I think four is a good age to visit the dentist for the first time.
We started this summer off right — with a 6-month 9-month cleaning and checkup for Sally, and a first-ever visit for Susan. I made a couple of mistakes, and did a few things right, and naturally, as I sat in the waiting room, I thought, This would be a great Works-for-Me Wednesday topic, plus, hopefully I’ll remember to re-read it when it’s time for Spot’s first visit.
Tips For Making a First Dental Visit a Success
1) Start the Brainwashing Early. If you can train your three-year old to cry “Mommy, I’m not safe!” when you forget to buckle her seatbelt, you can convince her that going to the dentist is better than Disneyland, and that it will help her to be “just like Sally.”
2) Write Down the Appointment. On a calendar in case your computer breaks, and on the computer in case your calendar gets drowned in the kitchen sink. If you somehow manage to forget entirely the day, time, or in fact the name or phone number of the dentist, start calling possible dentists early on the first day of Summer. You might get lucky and call the right one exactly one hour before the appointment.
3) Practice Some Useful Phrases. For example: “I like to brush my teeth in the morning, but Mommy helps me at night.” “Daddy lets me use his flossers if I’m a good girl.” “We never eat suckers or fruit snack or sugar of any kind at home, Mr. Dentist.”
4) Do Not Let Your Daughter Wear A Dress That Comes To Her Knees. When she lies on the dentist chair, it will ride up and show her panties no matter what you do. I guess there are worse things in life, but I spend way too much of my time fretting over panties showing.
5) Brush Your Kids’ Teeth Right Before the Appointment. Right.
Actually, considering how cavalier I am about teeth hygiene, it’s a miracle the kids are still cavity-free. Right before I got married (when I was still on my parent’s insurance), I had 16 cavities. Had to go back twice to get each side of my mouth done. I’m still a flossing-slacker. Dick must have some good teeth genes.
I love a good pediatric dentist. The best part is having the dentist tell your kids they need to brush and floss. Somehow it sounds a lot more serious coming from someone who wields instruments of oral torture. But there are a few other things to look for in a pediatric dental practice:
Things to Look for in a Pediatric Dental Practice
1) TV Screens on the Ceiling, with a good selection of movies.
2) Goody bags to take home. Probably not with actual candy in them.
3) Fun prizes to take home. Not to be confused with the oral hygiene goody bag, which should include a toothbrush of their choice and toothpaste/floss samples. The fun prize should be something they can choose out of a good Dollar Store range of toys. Susan chose Trick Gum, and after we finally convinced her it wasn’t real gum, she loved ‘getting’ Mom with the cockroach that snapped out each time.
4) A Bathroom Close to the Exam Rooms. Something about all that swishing and drilling makes kids have to pee. Trust me.
5) Like, um Credentials, or something (you can check the ADA). Oh, and hygienists and dentists who actually know how to talk to kids.
In case it’s going to be awhile before you get to the dentist (and to jog my own memory), here are a few tips the dentist gave us:
Mean Rules That Help Your Teeth
1) Limit the Juice and Chocolate Milk. I ask you: Limit the MILK? Apparently chocolate milk has lots of sugar (NO!) and ruins regular milk for kids. But I asked, and the occasional treat chocolate milk is okay. It’s just bad if you buy it for your refrigerator. Because your refrigerator has feelings, too.
2) Until kids are eight or nine, Mom or Dad should take a turn at the evening brushing/flossing. Kids can handle the morning one on their own.
3) Nah, that’s all I got. How about you?
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This weekend’s Things That Must Go Giveaway is for a $50 gift certificate to a cool online store.