Facing My Dental Fears Over My Son’s First Cavity

I have dentist issues. I’ve had root canals and teeth trauma and cavities and then no funding to deal with whats waiting to be drilled and sucked and hurt some more. I despise the drill. I despise horrid dental insurance. I despise myself for not flossing better. Simply put, dentists have consistently triggered cold sweats, hot flashes and nightmares for my entire adult life.

But just because I have dentist issues doesn’t mean my children should.

Isn’t it ironic how your children so often have you facing your greatest fears?

My two boys happen to have teeth. And yes, as fate would have it, they need to see a dentist. So after hearing about a fabulous pediatric dentist in the Tampa area, I made appointments. My six year old had been for a cleaning there a year or so ago and I was amazed by how well he did. Sure, they are out of network and cost and arm and a leg. But they are just so gentle there. And come hell or high water, my boys aren’t going to hate the dentist the way I do. Deep breaths, let’s sign them up. Because I’m a good Mommy like that.

So I marched them both in yesterday for cleanings. Of course, they did very well. How could they not? Super sweet hygienists carefully peered into their mouths while they wore headphones and watched movies on monitors suspended from the ceiling. They were given bubble gum tasting things and prize coins for doing a good job. And it seems Patch Adams himself is their dentist. Corny as hell, he blew up glove balloons and made them laugh while going over their x-rays with me.

Oh yeah. Real world. X-rays. My six year old had two cavities. They were in permanent molars. They needed fillings. Oh my God, my baby.

So I ushered them out the door with smiles on their faces and new toothbrush gear under their arms. A smile for all to see was on mine too. But there was also a lump in my throat. How would I tell my boy that he had to get fillings and that it was no big deal? The dentist assured me they had their “ways” (nitrous oxide, gels) to keep the pain to a minimum, but I wasn’t convinced. Drills and higher dental bills for my child’s pain. It was all horrible.

Thanks to a cancellation (yeah, thanks a lot), my six year old was able to get in this morning to have his first cavitiy filled. On the way there, we had chats about holes in enamel and fillings and turning his nerves off and wearing a mask. He seemed facinated at best. Truly, he was hardly fazed. No dentist issues what so ever. He amazed me.

While he played in the waiting room, my heart thudded. Every once in awhile, I folded him into my arms and asked him if he had any questions about today. Nope. Can I go play that Spongebob video game again? Wow. Really. No issues. None. They were all mine to enjoy.

So in we went. He picked a grape smell for the nitrous oxide. He laid back and they switched the ceiling monitor over to Cartoon Network for him. He breathed in. His ankles were crossed, trusting them entirely. Surely, I wouldn’t bring him anywhere that would hurt him. Surely.

I chatted with the wonderfully kind dentist who showed me his x rays. She reminded me of a mom from some 80s sitcom, I wasn’t sure which. I eyed my child’s nitrous oxide. Did that come in a grape flavored Mommy size? My heart was pounding.

Remember a few paragraphs ago when I said that children make parents face their greatest fears? I was not leaving my boy’s side. So. I got to see all the drilling, and pushing, and popping, and sucking, and metal rings, and the very long metal syringes they used. Long, shiny, sharp, scary metal syringes. Stuck deep into my child’s mouth. Thanks to the laughing gas, he never flinched. He never even squeezed my hand. I never squeezed his, but it took everything in me not to. Through all of it, I just focused over their gloved hands at my son’s one visible brown lashed eye watching TV or watching them or sometimes watching me. I smiled calmly. I stroked his hand slowly.

(It’s all good baby. Nothing to see here. That horrid high pitched “wheeeeeeeeeee” drilling sound is a good thing. It’s helping you. I have you here doing this because it will fix you. I would never put you in harms way. You’re doing so so great.)


Sucking, snapping, popping.

And suddenly it was over. They leaned him up, now hopped up on pure oxygen. He did great, they said. What a fabulous patient. And he did do great. His numb lip hardly fazed him. He had no reaction to the nitrous oxide. And while sucking on a smoothie a half hour later, he claimed he never felt a thing – and I believe him.

We go back for round two in a week or so.

More sucking, snapping, popping, wheeeeeeeeeeeeee….

I still have dentist issues. In fact, seeing my little boy under-go all of that up close and personal didn’t exactly extinguish any of my denstist issues in the slightest. And I expect that many more rounds of these types of visits or future dental emergencies or possible braces will thoroughly fuel my issues’ fire. But for now, he is safe from having any of those issues. And that’s the entire point.

So while I never got any nitrous oxide in grape flavor today, I did get a small bottle of white wine in Pinot Grigio flavor. It’s chilling now. Wheeeeee.


#1 Diane Davis on 04.10.10 at 8:10 am

Good job,Thomas. AND Mommie!
I want to go to THAT Dentist.

#2 Yvette Manes on 04.12.10 at 6:14 am

We are going in for my 7 year old daughter’s first filling on Wednesday…I’m scared sick…this post made me feel a whole lot better!
.-= Yvette Manes´s last blog ..Spring Break rated J =-.

#3 taylor on 04.25.10 at 10:52 pm

Dr. Mitchell Josephs is hosting a one-day Marketing Summit in Ft. Lauderdale, FL on May 14th, 2010. We would like to know if you are using social media marketing to promote your office and what kind of results are you having.

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