When I was a kid, I loved going to the dentist. Or rather, the dentist would come to us. Huddled in a little caravan parked inside the school, we clambered in one-by-one like a budget version of Noah’s Ark, in order to have our teeth examined, cleaned and filled (as necessary) and when we spat out our last mouthful of fluoride into the spittoon provided and wiped the dribble from our lips, he’d tell us what a great job we did, hand us our cellophane-wrapped lollipop and send us off with a cheery, “See you next year.” It was a…hold-up, did I just say lollipop? Hold the phone, this guy was keeping himself in business!
Anyhoo, forward 30 years and the time had finally come for Indy’s first trip to the dentist. Anyone with kids will tell you the arm-wrestle it is to get kids to brush their teeth, even if you told them toothpaste was fairy-floss and wrapped the handle in a twenty dollar note, but you gotta keep pushing that boulder, Sisyphus. Now, our kids are pretty good about sugar and we try to keep a lid on their daily consumption to a moderate 45 family blocks a day…WHAAT?? Don’t have a heart-attack, I AM kidding. We lost that lid years ago along with several other tupperware containers.
Actually, the truth is, Indy once discovered an online Dora the Explorer dentist game on my iPad where she had brown rotted teeth and that image alone has kept us in relatively good stead in the tooth brushing stakes for some time now. But still, it ain’t all smooth sailing.
It was Mumma that first detected it, a dark spot on his right-hand back molar about the size of a poppy seed. Which I in fact argued was probably an actual poppy seed but turned out to actually be a small cavity, which in turn led to two conclusions; 1.) I have no business discerning poppy seeds from cavities in a child’s mouth especially when I haven’t got my glasses on, and 2.) I had failed him in my job as chief toothbrusher. Yeah, I felt really guilty about that.
But still, it could have been much worse (thank god he’s not a smoker), and our first consult at A Plus Dental Clinic confirmed he would indeed have to have a filling and scheduled him in for the following fortnight. Egad, the thought of Indy’s first experience with the dentist being a time when he needed drilling sent me into a head spin montage of drills, needles, tears and screaming and I had no idea how he’d cope, or even how me or Mumma would cope. But then it hit me, I had a cunning plan, Baldrick.
I remembered how much he loved playing Doctors so I figured leading up to the day of his appointment, we’d make a game of it. He’d lay down on the couch as my patient and we’d go through the motions of what would happen in the dentist’s chair. I had my home-made configuration of dentist tools, a keyring covered in foil taped to the end of a straw as my mirror, a bendy straw was my sucker, an empty Baby Panadol syringe (my ‘multi-tool’) serving as my needle, tooth-picker and filling-maker. Plus, my electric toothbrush served as…‘the drill’, so he’d at least have a buzzing sensation going on in his mouth which hopefully wouldn’t surprise or scare him later on the actual day. He put on his sunnies to protect his eyes from the light as I covered his body with a sheepskin blanket to protect him during the ‘x-rays’ and he really got into it. In fact, at one point he was a T-Rex and I had to extract one of his teeth as you can see from the pics below.
Click on images to enlarge
He was a tremendous little couch patient, and even Alice wanted a go. Even with only her four teeth, she would happily open up as I pretended to examine her little choppers. And when the actual day arrived, Indy was so excited to go, I really felt assured I had done the right thing. In the examination room, it all played out almost exactly as we’d practiced, except he didn’t need any needles or extractions (thank goodness), but our Dentist specialises in kids and she was really tremendous. Indy was so confident and cocky, it was almost as if he’d been an old patient for years and did such a great job getting his filling, that the dentist gave him two stickers.
The only moment that made me actually cringe was not in the examination room, but in the waiting room as we sat filling in forms on the black leather couch. I suddenly noticed Indy chewing and when I asked him what it was he had, he said, ‘it just a cracker, Dad.’ And when I asked him where he got it from, he said…‘Me found it between the cushions.’
‘EMERGENCY! Gang, way. Man with a child here!’ I yelled as I crashed my way through the ER doors of the local hospital. At least, that’s what happened for the split second in my head as he swallowed his last mouthful. Bloody kids.