We took the boys to their first ever dentist appointment today. My husband met us there and I was feeling kind of bad about asking him to do that. I mean, what stay at home mom asks her husband to go with her to take the kids to the dentist. But you know what? I am so thankful that I did and that he was there.
The office was a very nice, kid-friendly office. That was great. We really liked the ship decor and the toy and book selections. They have video games for older kids, a flat-panel TV screen attached to each dental chair and a very open layout.
When it was our turn, someone came to the waiting room and called Ben and Nick. We all got up and went into the exam room. It is one large, open room with many exams chairs and the doors to the waiting room have windows so the parents can look in and see their kid. But we went in because we knew there was no way our little just-two-year-olds (and Nick not even that yet) would go in without us.
I had been talking this up to the boys all morning, telling them how they would get to sit in the "big" chair and how the dentist would look at their teeth, etc, etc. Nick was all excited and jumped right up in the chair. They weren't ready for him to be in the chair yet and he soon tired of it and the little cartoon playing on the attached flat-panel screen, he got down and wanted me to hold him. Soon after, the dentist came along and talked to my husband and I for a minute.
Then he was ready to have Nick sit in the chair. I asked Nick if he wanted to sit in the chair and he emphatically shook his head no (I was holding him at this point). I asked him a couple of times and he repeated the "no" head shake. I started to sit him in the chair and he clung to me, clearly getting ready to scream and cry and very afraid of the situation.
Do you know what the dentist said? He said "you're just going to have to force him into the chair and hold his hands down". I was shocked. I stood there in shock. Not knowing what to do next, I looked at my husband for guidance. He immediately said he would sit and hold him and he took Nick and sat down in the chair and kind of laid him back so the dentist could look into his mouth. They made it work and Nick was not too upset by this. The dentist spent all of about one minute, maybe, looking at Nick's teeth and counting them and declared them fine.
Ben was next and he was not as happy to lay in dad's lap but, after a couple of seconds, he loosened up and was fine too. The dentist spent maybe an extra couple of seconds on Ben, because he fell yesterday and bloodied his upper lip and the gums just above one of his front teeth. He wants him to come back in 8 weeks to have it checked again and have an XRay.
This is a pediatric dental office. When I was filling out the first-time paperwork, there was a question asking if the child had ever had a bad dental experience in the past. If my husband had not been there, all three of us would have had a very bad dental experience today.
I could not believe that this man did not try to engage the kids or talk to them before examining them. He talked to them in the exact same voice that he used with us, not in the nice, funny-sweet kind of voice that our doctor always uses and the boys love. The ONLY thing he did that even remotely resembled what I would think of as a pediatric dental thing was that he asked them if they wanted to hold the little mirror that they use to look at teeth. Nick held it for a second but Ben did not want to. Oh, and they each got a toy but it wasn't the dentist who gave it to them. Other than that, nothing. Completely nothing kid-friendly about this pediatric dentist whatsoever.
I was just really shocked by this. This is definitely not what I had expected from a pediatric dentist. I kind of wondered because of what they had told me on the phone when I made the appointment (thinking two barely two-year-olds might be willing to march into the exam room all by themselves and hop up into the chair) but then they also said they just want to make sure their first visit is a good experience so I thought they would know how to make it a good experience for them. They certainly did not and we won't be going back to this pediatric dentist anytime soon.
My expectation was that the "pediatric" dentist would know how to talk to and engage little children playfully to make it less scary and that he would invite mom and dad to sit in the chair and hold the child when they are this little, if the child shows fear. And maybe he would show the child first how he could look into mom or dad's mouth and the child could see how easy it was and that it didn't hurt and maybe the child could look too, so he would know what's going to happen before it actually happens, in an effort to make it less scary.
I am sorely disappointed and really kind of outraged that this guy even calls himself a pediatric dentist. Maybe he was just having a bad day but this definitely did not meet my expectations. I have no idea what this two minute exam cost but, whatever it cost, it was too much.