Trips to the dentist used to be filled with trepidation. Would Harry ‘behave’? Would he comply? Would there be a tantrum? Thankfully, as he has got older he has become less anxious and dental appointments have become easier.
That is not to say that dental hygiene has become easier. Harry has never enjoyed the sensation of brushing his teeth. We have tried electric toothbrushes and novelty toothbrushes over the years but he remains singularly unimpressed with the activity.
Recently he has become intolerant of any intervention on our behalf, insisting, “I can do it myself”. And to some extent he can. Harry is right-handed and he is able to manage some quite vigorous brushing of teeth on the left side of his mouth. But when it comes to changing grip and brushing those on the right…. Well, that doesn’t really happen. And as for brushing any of the molars…
We changed dentist a few years ago and he suggested quarterly visits in order to keep on top of the plaque. He also recommended that Harry brush with a high fluoride toothpaste for extra protection. Colgate’s Duraphat 5000 is a prescription-only toothpaste for those aged 16 and over. Our dentist suggested that Harry rinse sparingly in order to retain some of the sodium fluoride around his teeth. Fortunately Harry has never really mastered the rinse-and-spit so this technique works quite well. So far he has only had to have one filling.
Today was Harry’s first visit to a new dentist who has taken over the practice. I made sure that the two of them were introduced properly and gave Harry the opportunity to shake hands – he likes these small formalities. Fortunately, our new dentist is very approachable, smiles a lot and engaged with Harry quite quickly. He was clear in his explanations of what he intended to do during the appointment and what he expected of Harry. Such seemingly inconsequential actions all help to put Harry at his ease and he soon relaxed into the “Big black chair – like Mastermind”!
Harry has developed his own way of dealing with dentists and it involves opening his mouth as little as possible. Quite how dentists manage to see inside his mouth, let alone do any work, is nothing short of miraculous.
On this occasion the dentist declared himself pleased with Harry’s brushing. So much so that there was no extra cleaning to do. He said that much of the absence of plaque was probably due to a balanced diet. And as a bonus, Harry can now revert to bi-annual visits. Quite a result.