Today was Liam’s first ever dentist visit. He was too young to have gone before we moved here to Austria, and I was kind of waiting until we had a visit home to visit our (much loved) dentist in Virginia. But, a few weeks ago, I noticed a spot on one of his front teeth, and I’ve been freaked out ever since. The pediatrician and I agreed that it needed to be seen by a dentist, and probably shouldn’t wait until our next visit home to the US (scheduled for December).
I’ve been worrying about it since. I’ve been worried that it’s something dire, I’ve been worried he’ll be uncooperative at the appointment, or traumatized by it. I’ve been worried that there was something that I’ve done (or didn’t do) to cause him some kind of horrible dental damage. We had an appointment scheduled for 2 weeks ago, but he was sick with some kind of flu-like illness, and it just didn’t seem like a fair time to subject him to a first dental visit, so we put it off until today (and since then I’ve been worried about some awful consequence resulting from the delay).
I’ve been anxious about the visit for days. I woke up early this morning and laid in bed, stressing about it. How was it going to go? This isn’t a children’s dentist — would they know how to handle a 2 year old? What was the dentist going to say? What would happen next? Would I feel comfortable with any problem being solved here, or would I feel the need to have it taken care of at home? How urgent would it be? Would I have to make an extra trip home with Liam to get it taken care of? (This is how I spent an hour of my early morning today.)
So, just before 9:00 this morning, I dragged an uncooperative Liam out of the house (not literally, but almost — he didn’t even have his shoes on). The elevator was broken and he wouldn’t walk, so our trip began with me carrying him down the stairs from the 6th floor. We’d been talking about this visit for weeks, and telling him what to expect. We told him the dentist was going to look in his mouth and count his teeth. We told him it would be ok, and that it would be quick and easy (Benjamin added his reassurances). But apparently, he did not want to go. I did not feel encouraged.
But, we made it. I carried him the whole way to the strassenbahn, and the whole way to the office, but we made it (and only a few minutes late). As we made our way to the office, he calmed down and regained some of his enthusiasm. I reminded him that the dentist was going to look at his teeth (which he said was “ok”). But as soon as we got into the reception area, he stopped looking at anyone, stopped talking, curled up against my chest and hid.
The dentist was great, though. They told me I could fill out the paperwork afterwards, so he wouldn’t have to wait, and we went straight in. I sat in the “big” chair, with Liam on my lap, and the dentist and I just talked for several minutes, about Liam, about his history, and about my concerns. After a few minutes, Liam started peeking out for quick glances, and then started listening without hiding. I told him the dentist wanted to count his teeth, and he tentatively opened his mouth a tiny bit. The dentist gently checked out his teeth, and even got a mirror in to see the backs of them. Liam did GREAT (although he did not speak a single word the entire time — it may be the quietest 10 waking minutes Liam has had since he started to talk).
It turns out that the discoloration on his tooth is an early form of decay (pre-cavity) and that there’s nothing actionable about it for the moment. We just need to keep an eye on it and be fastidious with our oral care for him. (Which, apparently, we already are — the dentist was pretty impressed that we’re already flossing.) Evidently the dentist’s son had the same thing, and it didn’t get worse or better, or need particular attention. So, nothing catastrophic there. (He suspected that pain medicine/fever reducer was to blame in his son’s case — it showed up shortly after they’d been using it a lot, and it’s one of those things that we routinely give after teeth brushing . . . and it contains a lot of sugar. I’m guessing it might be the same thing here.) The dentist was impressed with how well Liam behaved and how willing he was to have his teeth looked at by a stranger. (I’m feeling pretty proud right now.) And then, after the exam, Liam got to pick out a toy (a blue race car) and his smile and chatter came right back.
So, all that worry was pretty much for nothing. I’m glad I got it looked at, but I’m even more glad that all is well for the moment. I’m glad he doesn’t need any urgent dental care right now. And I’m really proud of my brave little guy who trusted me so much today.