Ah, the dentist. Traditionally feared and hated by children of all ages, this poor misunderstood creature only wants to bring smiles to the faces of all humankind. It's just unfortunate that they often try to do so via loud, scary sounding instruments and needles stabbed into your face. Yes, one bad experience at the dentist can leave you scarred for life, at least where oral hygiene is concerned. For this reason, it is very important to make sure that your childrens' first dental appointments are happy and exciting experiences.
6 months ago, when Edward was not quite two, he had his first dental visit. It went something like this: he sat in the chair, we told him to open his mouth, he refused, the dentist got kind of a sideways look into his mouth, and we went home. He clearly didn't want to participate and we were not going to push it. We only want happy memories of the dentist's office.
Fast forward to yesterday and once again it was time for the whole family to head over for our check-ups. On the way over we practiced saying "Ahhhh" with Edward, which he really enjoyed, so all signs were pointing to a more successful visit this time. When we got there the kids played with toys while we waited for our turn, and when they called us in, I went first.
Edward was very interested in everything that was going on, climbing up onto me while the hygienist was scraping around in my mouth. I tried to tell him to get down, but that was difficult with my mouth wide open and someone's hand in there. Edward started pushing buttons and was quite pleased to discover that he could make water spray into the little sink. At this point I decided that he ought to get down off of my chest and back onto the floor, which he was not happy about until he found the buttons that moved my chair up and down.
Ruby, the five year old big sister, went before Edward to show him that it was fine and fun to be at the dentist. We discovered two slightly loose teeth in her mouth, which was very exciting, and when the polishing started Ruby laughed and said it tickled her teeth. This proved to be the key to the whole thing, because now Edward really wanted to get his teeth tickled. As soon as Ruby was done he climbed right up into the chair and said "Ahhhhh."
He kept his mouth open the whole time, and everyone was very impressed. I even taught him how to spit into the little sink, which he loved a little too much. I am slightly concerned that we are going to start seeing some spitting action at inappropriate times in the future, but so far so good. He got his teeth "tickled" (we even tested it out on his finger first!) and poked and counted, and he sat through it all. In fact, when he got out of the chair he said "My turn!" and tried to get back into it again.
I couldn't be happier with how everything went. Nobody has any cavities, everything looks great, Ruby got good tooth fairy news, and Edward fell in love with dental appointments. And at the end they got tooth-related prizes! It's just too bad we have to wait six months to do it again.