New Thing #191: Taking My Daughter To The Dentist

Dentist_ChairI was dreading Tuesday a little bit this week. Probably not as much as my daughter was dreading Tuesday this week.

But, actually, the fact that she was dreading it was a big part of why I was dreading it.

Don't judge me as a parent...but she has some cavities. And Tuesday was the first of multiple appointments this summer to fill those cavities.

And, as I told you when I had to take another daughter to the doctor earlier in '365 New Things In 2013', with my wife at work I've had to take on some of the going-to-the-doctor-and-dentist parental responsibilities.

As I alluded to in the January posting, between me and my wife you have a 50-50 shot at getting a competent parent at a doctor or dentist appointment. I'm the wrong 50.

What I didn't allude to, and I'm not sure I've mentioned this yet in 190 previous posts, is that I'm somewhat squeamish. So the dentist's office is a bit of a dicier proposition than the doctor. Especially with the filling of a cavity and some drilling and all.

(I feel here I need to stop and stress to you that we don't feed my daughter sugar or send her to school with a lunchbox full of taffy. I have a feeling her dental difficulties are genetic....and I have a sinking suspicion that I'm the parent to blame [New Thing #87]. I hope she doesn't find this out when she gets older and probably is mad at me for the other things I've inevitably messed up between now and then.)

Well, I'm happy to tell you that when I wasn't using my iPhone to sneak pictures of the empty dentist chair next to ours, I was a pretty solid support for my daughter.

Parts of this experience were not as bad as I expected - I thought I'd be in the way trying to soothe my daughter, but the dentist was very appreciative of my efforts and when I had the idea of showing my daughter pictures on my phone (not of the empty dentist pictures), she didn't mind that I was shoving the phone past her to get in my daughter's sight line. (She also encouraged my daughter to pick out a toy but there was no possible way my daughter was able to play a game laying there while the dentist was working in her mouth. I was not prepared for helping my daughter with that. Also, pediatric dentistry is something else. That woman told stories and tried to distract my daughter for 97% of the time she was filling that cavity. I wonder if she's available for birthday parties.)

Other parts of the experience were pretty terrible - worse than I was ready for. For example, my daughter repeated, "Ow, ow, ow" over and over again (she was much more understandable than I think I ever was in 30-plus years of answering the dentist's questions with my mouth full of equipment, for what that's worth). I hated to hear her indicate she was in pain...and I have no idea if she was just saying "Ow" because she was truly in pain or because she was scared. But I didn't like it.

As for my squeamishness, well, it wasn't a factor. I didn't look at the nitty-gritty stuff. But I'm not that sure it was even all that nitty-gritty. At the end there were some bloody gums, but that was tolerable enough for me.

It didn't seem to be all that tolerable for my daughter though. And I'm sure I'm not the first parent to have this thought sitting with their child next to a dentist's chair...but I hope that's the most painful thing she'll ever have to go through.