Brushing teeth is not one of the Roc’s favorite activities. When he was younger it felt like a wrestling match that always ended with me sweaty and defeated. My neighbor once told me that she would wrap her daughter up in a blanket so she couldn’t move her arms and then was able to really brush her teeth because the girl would lay there and scream with her mouth wide open. Didn’t work for the Roc. I tried it. Once. He knew what I wanted to do and clamped his lips together. Plus, he has never been one to allow you to wrap him in a blanket, he is much to wiggly for that! We moved on to using a head lock maneuver which kinda worked. But I never felt like I was actually getting his teeth very clean, and I dislike psychically struggling with him. It has been a long process but he is getting better about having them brushed. Sort of. I still find myself chanting “Say ahhhhh. Open wide. Say ahhhh. Open wide. Don’t bite the brush. Stand up straight. Stop leaning back. Say ahhhh. Open wide. If you whip your head away one more time….” and threatening to read less stories if he won’t let me brush his teeth. I want him to have nice teeth and worry the dentist will tell me his teeth are horrid and that I’ve done a very poor job.
Yesterday the Roc had a dental appointment. I’ve tried hard to let the him know that going to the dentist really is no big deal. This is difficult for someone who doesn’t like the unknown, changes in his schedule, strangers touching him, and especially strangers putting objects in his mouth. He had his first visit to the dentist last fall and while he did do very well during that visit they were not able to clean his teeth that time or six months later at his second appointment. My main mission last year was getting him in the building, having him go with they hygienist without me, and her being able to at least peek into his mouth, count the teeth, and tell me they were looking healthy. All of that was accomplished last year.
Yesterday was the Roc’s third cleaning appointment and I was hoping that they would be able to accomplish more this time around. I told myself if they were not able to clean the teeth I would consider taking him to the pediatric dentist we visited in the spring when the Roc did a nose dive onto the sidewalk. I really wanted this office in town to work out though as they were not going to restrain him and were so willing to work with him. I didn’t do much to prepare him for this visit and was silently cursing myself in the morning while making his breakfast. “I should have driven him by the office last night as a prep.” “I should have showed him the pictures of the staff from their website so he would remember them.” “I wonder if this is going to be a big FAIL?” During breakfast and while driving to the office I reminded him to listen to the lady, lay back in the seat, open his mouth, and NOT to bite them. I swallowed hard and hoped it was enough.
The Roc told me he didn’t want to go in but I ignored him and led him into the building. He wanted to sit on my lap and I let him. His name was called right away and I asked if they would refrain from doing a fluoride treatment on him that day because I want to do some more research on it’s affect on neurology. They hygienist frowned and asked me to come back with the Roc. “Uh-oh.” I thought. “I’m going to get a speech, this lady is going to think I’m nuts, and I’ve never gone back with the Roc, now he’s going to act up because I’m going to be in the room with him.”
I did get a speech and she did try to scare me by saying that all his teeth might fall out, but I insisted that I still wanted some time to do my own research. Which I think makes me a good parent, not a negligent one, but I still got the “you’re a crazy lady look.” I get that a lot. I’m used to it. While I was getting a lecture on the wonders of fluoride the Roc was wiggling around in his seat and kicking his legs. The hygienist wanted him to wear sunglasses and I didn’t try to help her as I knew that there was no way he would wear them. A little nugget of panic was forming in my stomach wondering if she was going to be harsh with him in my presence. But to my relief the opposite happened. She gave up the sunglasses idea and calmly moved onto showing him all the different things she was going to use and how the seat went down (closing up the “hole” that was causing the Roc some major anxiety). To my surprise he listened, laid back on the chair and opened wide when she directed. Many times his eyes shifted over to mine and I thought to myself “this is when he is going to start his counter attack and act up so he can end this visit and get the heck out of here.” But he didn’t.
He did not yell. He did not scream. He did not push her hand away. He did not whip his head around. He did not bite her fingers. He did not protest or cry. He did not clamp his lips together. He did not panic.
To my utter shock he allowed her to SCRAP HIS TEETH and then polish them. He was quiet. He listened when she explained what she was going to do next. He answered her questions. He followed her directions. He made good eye contact with her. I think she was surprised at how well he did and I know that I was. It actually felt a little surreal to be sitting back there witnessing the cleaning and his cooperation.
And his teeth cleaned up nicely! There were a couple stains on the front teeth that were polished away to reveal perfect little white teeth. One of which happens to be loose…uh oh. I guess I have something else to start prepping for. The baby teeth fallout. Not only is one of the top front teeth loose, two teeth on the bottom are loose too. She said this is about the age that they start to loosen up and the fact that he had a pretty big mouth injury in the spring may cause them to come out a bit earlier.
Yikes! I guess I’d better start looking for some books about baby teeth.
I am still, even the next day, astounded at how well he did and thus how much he has grown. I keep saying it, but I’ll say it again. He is changing right before my very eyes and it’s thrilling to witness. Cooperating at the dentist may seem like small potatoes to many parents. But for me, for the Roc, it is huge. All these small victories add up to some pretty big changes. It will never go unnoticed or unappreciated by me.