In the span of one generation (between mine and the kids’), the experience when visiting the dentist has changed vastly.
I used to be so terrified of visiting the dentist that my Dad helped pull out my baby teeth when they started to wobble. And when I started Primary school, oh man, the twice yearly visits to the formidable dental nurses were enough to send trembling all the way to the clinic, and return to the class after on weak knees. I used to freeze up and pray that the clipboard-bearing classmate/schoolmate would not be coming for me. I was so traumatised by dental visits that I stopped visiting the dentist for several years after my last major operation, when I had my wisdom teeth extracted.
It was only when the Man recommended his dentist to me, whom I would find ‘very handsome’, that I overcame the fear of visiting dentists and scheduled regular visits again.
I didn’t want my kids to go through the trauma and fear of visiting the dentists the Man and I went through as children, so I did some research and brought Matthew to a paediatric dentist when he was about 5 years old. Even then it was too late; for Matthew had 2 small cavities in his front teeth, which we spent a bomb to fill in, and which he promptly dropped 6 months later. Now that Matthew has started Primary One, we leave it to the school’s dental nurse to take care of his oral health (saving on dental expenses at the same time).
Having had the experience, we brought Megan to the same dentist at an earlier age, but she was too shy to sit by herself. That first experience was also good for her as it left no traumatising memories.
But ever since the wonderful dentist moved to an outlet very far from where we are staying, I decided to look for another dental clinic. So I booked Megan an appointment with the paediatric dentist at the NUH Dental Centre, and an appointment for myself too.
When the morning came, I made sure both of us reached the clinic earlier to prepare Megan mentally, in case she became worried about the visit. But I had nothing to worry.
Megan already felt at ease at the registration counter – the manager even let her paste our sticker labels onto our case notes files! She also led Megan to hand our files to the respective dentists who would be seeing us. Before long, Megan was prancing along the corridor in high spirits, peering often into our designated treatment rooms, and chatting with the dental assistants.
My appointment was first. Megan was so cheerful throughout my treatment, asking the dentist tons of questions, and touching everything in sight. The gentle dentist was so patient with her, answering her questions while giving my teeth his full attention, and occasionally warning her not to touch the sharp instruments. I could not stop Megan for I could not speak nor see her, but I was very glad the dentist was able to keep her under reasonable control.
Megan was so impressed by her experience that she declared very loudly she would become a dentist when she grows up. That made the dentist really happy, and his happy voice came through the mask, when he replied that it was a good vocation to choose.
Megan repeated the same declaration to her dentist soon after. Again, she made her dentist very happy too. And by then, Megan was so relaxed and cheerful that she sat in the seat by herself. The dentist was also very patient with her, introducing her to the instruments she would be using on Megan’s teeth. These thoughtful gestures made Megan at ease as she knew exactly what was going to happen next. Her teeth were done in no time. And her favourite part of the visit? Stickers as reward! She even wheedled 2 stickers for her GorGor, while negotiating 3 stickers successfully for herself. Sales person in the making?
A cheerful gal with white-again pearlies.
I hope Megan will continue to make dentists happy by sticking to her childhood wish as she grows up. Will she? Keeping my fingers crossed…