Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Delaney goes to the dentist

Who remembers their very first dental checkup?  I can recall bits and pieces of my own: mom taking me there; sitting in a chair that moved up and down; a cheerful, pretty and gentle -- yes, gentle, I miss those days -- hygienist cleaning my teeth and talking to me.  I don't remember much about mine, but I will never forget Delaney's.

You can't see too well in this picture, but Delaney is holding a certificate that proclaims her a cavity-free member of the Cavity Fighter's Club.  (This is amazing for two reasons: 1. Delaney is not a good brusher, and her mouth has never seen floss; and 2.  These people were permitted to see the inside of her mouth and take an x-ray.) The sticker in the middle of her chest has her name on it.  She is also sporting a red heart sticker that says, "Dr. Jones loves me and my teeth."  In the bag is a bouncy ball, a Dora toothbrush, and a little tube of toothpaste (that has Spongebob on it, but I'll forgive them that).

I took her to Camp Tooth, right down the street in the Town of Quantico.  I probably would never have thought to take her to a dentist in Q-Town, but a friend of mine had recently taken her three-year-old son there and recommended it.

The outside of the office gave me a good first impression, not like the rest of Q-Town at all.  It was very welcoming.  Inside, there was a spacious carpeted waiting area with a lot of books and toys.  I was given three pages of paperwork to fill out.  I expected that Delaney would want to go play with the toys and books, but instead she clung to me, crying, "I don't want to go to the dentist."  This didn't surprise me, and honestly, I didn't have high hopes for today being a successful checkup.  I just wanted her to become familiar with the dental office, and the idea of going there.  That was the best I could hope for, but now I was beginning to doubt that we would last another five minutes.  She was so sad and scared, big crocodile tears running down her face.

Then another woman in the waiting room spoke up, telling Delaney about how nice the dentist was, and how she was going to get balloons, and get to pick out her own toy, and how her kids liked it here.  I was so grateful for that woman, because Delaney listened to her and her mood brightened instantly.  She began dancing around the room, answering her questions about shows she liked to watch, about being a big sister, and all kinds of things.  Within a few minutes, Delaney watched a little boy emerge from a door with balloons and a bag of goodies, a big smile on his face.  A crisis was averted!

Finally Delaney's name was called, and we were led to a small meeting room with glass walls and two doors -- the door leading in from the waiting area, and the door leading to back there.  We were told that Dr. Jones and a nurse would be in to see us shortly.  It began to dawn on me that taking a kid to their first dental checkup is a real process.  Within ten seconds, the door from back there opened, and in came Dr. Jones like a shot of caffeine.

I barely noticed the nurse who came in with him, because Dr. Jones was talking a mile a minute about how much fun Delaney was going to have, how she was going to pick her own flavor of toothpaste, and get balloons, on and on.  He had an infectious and high-pitched laugh that made me think of Little Richard when he'd heard the funniest joke ever.  I felt like we had just arrived at a party, and soon I was smiling and laughing too.  Then I glanced down at Delaney, and saw the wary look on her face, like, 'I fail to see what's so darn funny about any of this.'

With a little coaxing, the nurse led Delaney through the door back there, and it was just Dr. Jones, Annie and myself.  Sometimes Dr. Jones would look at her and say, "AnnaLISE!"  the same way I do sometimes.  She just stared, like 'Mister, you are crazy.'  Dr. Jones gave me some literature, telling me as he did so that in the course of talking with him, I was going to hear one word again and again.  You all know the word: "FLOSSING."  Still, when he said it, I felt my eyes grow big and round.  He laughed and said, "Yeah, I get that look all the time, like 'We're talking about a two-year-old here!'"  He chatted with me a few more minutes, telling me about how he has four (now grown) kids of his own, so he understands.  He turned on a video and left me to watch it.

The video was all about flossing, and was produced by Dr. Jones and some of his staff.  I watched it, and did my best to keep Annie happy with snacks and a drink.  In the video a nurse held a little boy's head under her arm and flossed his teeth while the boy said, "Ah..AH.. AAAH!"  From time to time I heard some yelling coming from back there, and it sounded like Delaney.  I saw that the door to back there had a peephole.  I pressed my eyeball against it, but I couldn't see anything.  Maybe the peephole was for them to watch me, and make sure I was watching the video and not using my cellphone.

The video was over in about 15 minutes, and Annie and I were free to go back to the waiting room.  We waited for perhaps 15 more minutes, and then a young woman in scrubs came to take me on a tour of back there.  I saw the sterilization room, the x-ray room, and the large sunny room full of examination tables, and big bay windows with toys, blocks and books.  In one of the bay windows, another woman in scrubs held Delaney on her lap and talked to her.  Delaney was holding her balloons and goody bag already, and only looked a little uncomfortable.  She didn't see me right away, but when she did, she smiled and waved.  I waved, and and as the woman led me back out a door, I was relieved that Delaney didn't protest.  I thought, 'How strange that they let her see me before they turn her back over to me.'  I was also shown another wing for adults.

Annie and I were left once again in the tiny meeting room where we had watched the video.  Dr. Jones soon came through the door to give me Delaney's "report card."  He said, "I have good news and bad news."  The good news, as you already know, was no cavities.  Yay!  Delaney received a B for brushing (I would have given her a D) and a B for gum health.  It was noted that she had shed a few "age appropriate" tears during her examination and cleaning.  (Tim, your tears at your last checkup were NOT age appropriate.)

The bad news is: We need to start saving for braces.  Delaney's x-rays appeared on the video monitor, and Dr. Jones showed me what I could clearly see -- her  bottom front two adult teeth are beginning to grow in behind her baby teeth.  Not only that, but they are monstrously large.  "Do you think those guys are gonna fit in there?"  he asked.  We both exclaimed in unison, "Noooooo!"  He had noted on her report card a "future space concern."  He says that it is pretty common for adult teeth to come in behind baby teeth, happening 80% of the time.  I didn't know that.

 At last we were all done, and a nurse brought me my darling girl proudly holding her goody bag and balloons.  The nurse told me, "I didn't even know she could talk until I was playing with her afterward."  Really?  Would  that be the result of the tranquilizer you gave her to make her sit in that chair and open her mouth?

1 comment:

  1. Mom and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I haven't laughed that hard in way too long. I can see your big round eyes now!