Fun at the dentist

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I don't like to think what would have happened if my daughter had got hold of any of these tools.
I don’t like to think what would have happened if my daughter had got hold of any of these tools.

I often find the most enjoyable moments with my children come entirely unexpectedly. I had one such moment the other day in the dentist’s surgery of all places.

I’d booked a check-up for our eldest, Helen, and I. Our baby daughter Elizabeth was too young for a check-up so she sat in the corner and stared in wonderment at all that was going on around her. To my great surprise the little one didn’t even jump or flinch when big sister sent a high-pressure jet of water streaming past her head, but more about that in a moment.

Helen had been quite excited about this appointment. She wanted two things: 1) a sticker proclaiming she’d been to the dentist and 2) to sit in the chair and get lifted “up and up.”

Helen was seen first so both her wishes were quickly granted. The dentist proclaimed there were no signs of decay and that she had a good set of teeth. This was a very pleasing moment. I always get paranoid that we don’t get Helen to brush her teeth for long enough or that she consistently misses patches when brushing so being told all was in order was quite a relief.

With Helen’s teeth inspected, this dentist’s visit descended into a delightful, comedic scene. She asked for a “pink drink” and a glass of mouth wash was duly provided. I told her not to swallow and to spit it into the bowl.

She followed my instructions enthusiastically. About a third of the mouth wash actually ended up in the bowl while the remainder was accidentally spat with some force across the floor. Thankfully the dentist and dental nurse saw the funny side and Helen was given a Disney Princess sticker regardless of the puddle of mouthwash lying at her feet. Little did I realise the fun had only just begun.

It was now my turn to sit in the chair and it was duly lifted into position so the dentist could get to work. The children were both silent and I was feeling quite relaxed.

All of a sudden, however, a familiar face appeared over my left shoulder. My daughter had decided to have a look in daddy’s mouth. What else could the dentist do but ask her to join in so they both had a good look at my teeth.

Eventually my check up was complete and the dentist delivered his verdict. I would require two fillings. This wasn’t the news I needed but my immediate concern was with Helen who was now wielding one of the dentist’s tools and mucking about with a foot pedal that controlled goodness knows what.

“What happens if I press this button?” she asked while playing with a tool that I couldn’t name.

To my great surprise the unflappable dentist replied: “Go on, give it a try.”

Helen was only too happy to do so. It turned out the tool in question was an air hose. Anyone with sensitive teeth will recognise this device as a shot of air to the right tooth can give you quite a wake-up call.

Having discovered what the tool did, Helen promptly used it to blast air into a set of model teeth the dentist gave her. She then asked if she could blast air into my mouth. I couldn’t say no and so I got on my knees and allowed a four year old to blast cold air across all of my teeth, the look on her face one of intense concentration.

By now the dental nurse was in hysterics. It was obvious the job wasn’t usually this unpredictable. Her laughter was a tad premature because yet another mess was about to be deposited on the floor that would be her job to clean up.

This tool that Helen was holding had two buttons. Having discovered what one button did, she now wanted to see what the other small, metal tab would do.

“Daddy, what does this other button do?”

I wanted to tell her it was time to leave. I was about to say something but the dentist answered for me.

“Go on, press it and see what happens.”

My daughter was only too happy to comply. It turned out to be a high-pressure water jet. Okay, yes, it was a small high-pressure water jet but it still had the force to send water flying half-way across the room.

Water was now hurtling towards Elizabeth. Amazingly it missed and she just sat in her seat oblivious to all the commotion and continued playing with a tube of toothpaste that she’d somehow gotten gold of.

The dental nurse was once again in fits of giggles, the paper mask across her face doing nothing to hide this fact. The floor was wet but the dentist was amused. It turns out he has a couple of young children so he is clearly used to this pandemonium.

I was very grateful for his approach. The last thing I want is for my children to fear the dentist. He clearly understood this and was quite happy to let Helen have some fun while she was, effectively, in his care. I very much doubt I’ll have too much trouble getting her to go along to the dentist next time she has a check-up in January. Wish me luck. 

Like this post? Well why not read this one about the time Helen caught chickenpox . You might also like this one about the birth of my youngest daughter.

14 thoughts on “Fun at the dentist”

    1. Hi Jonathan. It’s funny, I have no particular bad memories of visiting the dentist when I was a child. I don’t ‘though, recall any of my dentists being quite as relaxed as this guy. I was impressed, very impressed indeed.

  1. “By now the dental nurse was in hysterics” – I think this would have been me if I was in your position! I’m very impressed you were able to put on a brave face (with an open mouth) to give your children a positive vibe!

    Glad it worked out well in the end for them, and for you and your fillings I hope!

    1. Oh the fillings! Don’t mention the fillings. I have that joy in a couple of weeks but have arranged childcare for that visit.

      As you might have gathered, this was quite an experience. I was really impressed with the dentist and dental nurse. They took it all in their stride.

  2. Great post John, very funny! I have 4 children who hate the thought of visiting the dentist, luckily we have a dentist(and assistant) who are very good with the children, he also must be doing something right because they always leave the surgery with a smile on their faces,

    1. Four children. Wow your visits to the dentist must be very demanding indeed! Interestingly I’ve not heard from anyone who has said they have a family unfriendly dentist. Maybe I’m looking at the world through rose tinted spectacles, but maybe these dentists of ours are generally a very good bunch?

  3. I am so envious of this experience. Had to take DD for a check up a year ago as she complained abouth her teeth aching. Spent a long time prepping her with every book, cartoon and song known to man that had anything to do with going to the dentist. She was excited. She took her toy peppa to get checked out too. She was happy and chatty in the waiting room. The friendly nurse led us in to the ‘proper’ room at which point my child promptly shut her mouth and no amount of cajoling, demonstrations on mummy and peppa, bribes and visions of carloads of stickers did anything to change that. I was told that if she still complains about the pains I’d have to take her to the hospital and have her sedated for the dental exam. She never mentioned the pain again abd the next time we saw our GP, they did a simple check up and found no cavities or problems. I might try your dentist for our next check up!

    1. Oh dear. Sorry to hear you haven’t had quite such a positive experience. When we started taking Helen to the dentist I thought we’d have a terrible job persuading her to let the dentist take a look. Surprisingly she’s always been quite laid back about it. Long may this last!

    1. Thanks for leaving a comment Kriss. Yeah, I think the foot pedal my daughter was playing with made the chair go up and down but it didn’t work for some reason. Possibly just as well!

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