Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Day 3: Epic Fail at the Dentist

I sense that you have a…ummmm….strong-willed daughter and that this is not going to work out.

Not words you want to hear from your pediatric dentist when you take off work to take your daughter in for her first fillings at 7:30 in the morning. I should have suspected the worst last night when Sophie began channeling Sybil. She was excited about going to the dentist. Then she wasn’t. Then she was upset she was going to miss art at school. Then she decided she did not want to go to school at all. Then she whined that she was going to miss her friends at school. Then she was excited about having “silver stars” in her mouth. Then she was afraid it would hurt. Then she “just couldn’t wait.” Then she cried herself to sleep because she was scared.

It was all quite confusing and emotionally exhausting for this momma.

Of course, no amount of Sybil-style personality fracturing could prepare me for what awaited me at Dr. Amey’s office this morning. Sophie happily giggled the entire way to the dentist this morning as we sat in standstill traffic on the crosstown. She chatted the entire way into the building. She ran ahead to push the button on the elevator. She excitedly climbed the “tree house” in Dr. Amey’s waiting room as I played Farkle on my cell phone and arrogantly thought, This is going to be a piece of cake.

Everything changed, however, when Sophie’s name was called. Almost immediately, her demeanor switched from “cheerful, innocent cherub” to “determined, angry rebel.” She was marching to war and she was determined to win.

The rebellion began before her skinny little butt even hit the miniature dentist’s chair. The hygienist—a particularly perky young woman—gushed about Sophie’s shoes. They were both wearing bright pink sneakers with neon yellow laces. Sophie simply scowled at her, refusing to make any concessions to the enemy.

We made small-talk with the hygienist. Rather, I made small-talk with the hygienist while Sophie tightly hugged Cupcake—the stuffed dog she had brought for moral support—and avoided all eye contact. Once pleasantries (I use that word quite loosely) were out of the way, it was time to get down to business. The time had come that we were all looking forward to—the drugging of my daughter. The hygienist explained that we would be using candy-scented laughing gas that would make Sophie feel all giggly and make her think she could fly “like Tinkerbelle.” Though I, personally, would have loved a hit of the happy gas at that point, Sophie wanted nothing to do with it. We begged. We prodded. We cajoled. We put the mask on Cupcake. We put the mask on mommy. Dr. Amey came in to try to work her persuasive magic. Sophie would have nothing whatsoever to do with the gas mask. I was left alone with my daughter to try to convince her of the value of a good drugging—a task that should have been simple enough with the Hardesty blood coursing through her veins.

I reasoned with my young daughter. I explained that the fillings would be painful without the joy juice. I bribed her with gummy worms (knowing full well that she could probably not eat gummy worms right after getting fillings, but I was desperate). I begged her to “do it for mommy.” I threatened her through clenched teeth, much to my chagrin. Sophie responded with a firm shake of her head. She had made up her mind and there was no changing it. She was NOT getting her teeth filled. I foolishly thought that my will was stronger than hers. I tried to force the mask on her nose, certain that my willful daughter would be turned into a pleasant and pliable child with a couple of quick whiffs. She opened her mouth and screamed, “I am breathing through my mouth! I am not breathing through my nose!”

It was at this point, as I was seriously contemplating climbing on top of the miniature dentist chair and throttling my daughter, that Dr. Amey returned to the room. I am sure she could sense the utter frustration permeating that room. I am sure she was also urgently wishing I would just take my troublesome kid—and the evil juju she was emitting—home with me.

It was then that Dr. Amey spoke those fateful words. “I sense that you have a…ummmm….strong-willed daughter and that this is not going to work out.” We had surpassed our allotted time and her next patient was waiting. We were given the option to try it again on another day—though Dr. Amey’s was clearly less than hopeful for a positive outcome with that option—or we could decide to do her fillings in the hospital under general anesthesia. She informed us that she performs outpatient dental work at Children Hospital-West in Minnetonka. I agreed that seemed like a logical solution, but would talk it over with her other mom and would call the office once we had made a decision.

So my willful daughter did not get her teeth filled today. We are probably going to opt for outpatient dental at the hospital. In addition to the generally outrageous charge for fillings, we will now be forking over extra cash for the drive to Minnetonka (gas is expensive these days!), the outpatient hospital charges, and an anesthesiologist. An anesthesiologist for God’s sake!

Mommy desperately needs a shot of that laughing gas.


Anonymous said...

Maybe Ruanita and you both can go and physically hold her down to get enough gas that she is out. Could they spray it in her face?:) Strong willed and scared to death or do you think she was working the room and getting away with it like the first day of school when you had to leave and Ruanita stayed. I would try again at the dentist before I opt for the hospital. How many fillings does she need? What a way to start the morning. Drinks all around tonight.

Just Margaret said...

Oh this brought back two years of dental hell. But I can tell you--it will be OK. I promise!

My daughter was a little older than yours, and needed an inordinate amount of work--in all four quadrants of her mouth. Mostly teeny little fillings but one did have to be pulled.

Anyway, they tried the gas with her, and she didn't like that floaty feeling (she felt out of control of her body) and so they knocked her out to yank the tooth. It was a touch traumatic for her.

For the remainder of the work, we scheduled four appointments; one for each section of her mouth. She flat out refused to open her mouth, she wouldn't take the nitrous, and was completely uncooperative. It was a nightmare. And me? I'm wearing the Mom-of-Shame placard.

They suggested the outpatient route to us, too, but my insurance wouldn't pay for it because she was too old (she was 7 when this first came up, and 9 when we finally got it all resolved).

So, I'd just bring her back for appointments. We'd burn through the appointment time with me trying to coax, threaten, and plead the girl into submission only to have to reschedule *again*. We kept up the 6 month cleaning schedule (she'd open up for that...)

In the meantime, the dentist prescribed higher flouride toothpaste in an effort to keep the cavities from getting worse while we waited for the proper fillings to happen.

This went on for over a year, almost two. Good things for you to know:

As long as she keeps brushing and has good oral hygiene, you can potentially keep things from getting worse. All of her teeth are NOT going to rot and fall out of her head (though once or twice I *may* have told my daughter that they would...)

Keep going back to the dentist even though as a mom it's so humiliating to have *that* mom whose kid who won't cooperate. That way your daughter knows that while she has control over her mouth, you have control over the appointments. And she *will* eventually let them at her teeth.

Don't be above some good old-fashioned bribery ;-)

And, yes, as Madgew said above. Drinks all around!! Good Luck!

Jessica said...

This might make you feel better, I was telling Erik your story and he's all "That's very common" and gave me this look like "what was your point?" I didn't know it was common and thought you might not know either. Best of luck!

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