Elena had her first appointment with the dentist this week, and it was a good experience for her. Jenny found a very friendly dentist with a solo practice very close to our house. She scheduled an appointment for herself first to check it out, then was happy enough to schedule appointments for Elena and me. My exam didn’t go as well as I had hoped–although my gums are fine and I have no new cavities, there are signs of decay underneath my old fillings, which means I’ll be spending more time in the chair over the next weeks and months. There’s still hope for Elena; my bad teeth provide a strong motivation for us to work to instill good dental care habits in her while she’s just a toddler.
When it was Elena’s turn to go to the exam room she got to choose one parent to come with her. I was the winner, which meant that I got to see all the fun ways the dentist introduced her equipment. She called the sprayer a water pistol and even shot it across the room. Then she let Elena spray the water into a cup and clean it up with ‘Mr. Thirsty’ the suction tube. She used a special ‘tooth counter’ to see how many teeth were in Elena’s mouth (twenty) and do a brief exam on each one, then she got out the ‘tooth tickler’ to clean them.
Elena was a perfect patient. She opened her mouth wide whenever the dentist asked her to, and kept it open for as long as she needed. She didn’t get scared, even though the equipment made funny noises and the exam chair was much higher in the air than an average chair. At the end of the appointment, she picked a ring out of the treasure basket, but since she did such a great job the dentist gave her an extra treasure. I’m not sure how it happened, but Elena also scored an extra toothbrush for baby Roman, even though he doesn’t have any teeth yet.
After the appointment the dentist shared some thoughts with us. Elena’s teeth are healthy, which is good to hear after all the effort we put into brushing them every night. The dentist noticed and commented on Elena’s tongue thrust, recommending speech therapy. We’ve known about that issue for a long time and told her that Elena was already in a program. Most surprisingly, she said that straws would be good for her development because they teach proper tongue placement. Elena likes straws, so that will be an easy suggestion to implement. With that good experience under her belt, Elena will certainly look forward to returning to the dentist several months from now.