I’m a big advocate of good oral hygiene. I’m that colleague who brushes her teeth after lunch, and tells everyone that they should do half-yearly visits to the dentist because ‘it is very important to have clean teeth’. When Elliott finally got his full set of teeth, I wondered when it was a good time to schedule his first visit to the dentist. There were conflicting information on the web – some recommended after 3 years old when they can grasp the concept of a dentist better. Others suggested the first visit as soon as the full set of teeth appear just to ensure that everything is in order.
Decided to take him earlier than later because I remember growing up, going to the dentist was horrible and traumatic, no thanks to the school dental nurses who would bark at us for not brushing our teeth properly. It took me many years and a kind gentle dentist to get rid of my fear of going to the dentist.
I did not want Elliott to grow up thinking that the dentist is a place to be feared so thanks to a recommended by a friend, I made an appointment with Kids Dental World. They come highly recommended and I only managed an appointment on a Friday for a few weeks later. Appointments for Saturdays were booked out for MONTHS, apparently.
Before the actual visit (more like the night before, really), I prepped Elliott by showing him some videos on YouTube showing kids at the dentist and how AMAZING! and AWESOME! and FUN! the dentist is. By the time we got there, he was truly excited. “Air-yiot go dentist!“, he kept repeating.
The clinic is located at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital and when we got there, the carpark was full (!) so we resorted to using the valet service that costs $10 (excluding carpark charges). Ouch. Located on the 8th floor in the specialist block, the clinic’s entrance was tastefully done up in bright and cheery colours.
I was already warned by my friend who recommended the clinic that there is a HUGE amazing train play-set at the waiting area. Call it mother’s instincts but I already knew that it will be very challenging to remove our vehicle-loving child from it.
The moment we walked through the glass door, his eyes lit up and he exclaimed in a breathy tone: “Mummy look! TRAIN!” It was like he discovered Nirvana or something.
It kept him busy (of course) while I filled in a 2-page registration form with his details, the purpose of our visit, etc. I thought that it was all very professionally done.
There was also a TV, as well as game consoles (see the 2 small TV screens behind the train set?). I mean, I honestly don’t blame a child for not wanting to see the dentist when the waiting area is this fun!
We did not have to wait long which is good but when we tried to explain to Elliott that it was time to see the dentist, we had a MASSIVE MELTDOWN. Think big fat tears and loud cries. I glanced at the faces of the other kids who were in the waiting room and saw FEAR. Haha.
Dr Ong coolly told the boy to stay with Elliott first in the reception area while she asked me a couple of questions such as the type of toothpaste E uses, how often in a day does he drink from a milk bottle and whether or not he drinks before bedtime.
I cleverly took a photo of his current toothpaste and toothbrush but when asked how much fluoride his toothbrush contained, I was stumped. As it turns out, this current toothpaste (which are meant for 0 to 2 year olds) only has 500 parts per million fluoride which apparently does not prevent cavities and tooth decay.
I also shared that I have been using Nuk oral wipes to clean his teeth after his last milk feed at bedtime (a bad habit that we need to wean him off before he turns 3 because all that sugar left on his teeth overnight is BAD – yikes). Dr Ong commented that it was good that I was cleaning his mouth after milk (better than no cleaning at all) and also recommended that we get another toothpaste with minimum 1,000 parts p.m.f. and to use a tinyyyyy bit of it (rice grain size) to rub over his teeth after the wipe down. This important step is to prevent tooth decay.
When my child finally decided that it was ok to step into the dentist’s room, I held him close against me. Dr Ong took out a pop-up book with various animals showing their teeth and spoke in an animated voice when narrating it. First, she tried to get Elliott to “check” the animal’s teeth with a dental mirror but he shook his head (uh oh). Doctor was unfazed. Without missing a heartbeat, she got me to check instead (“Ok, let’s get Mummy to check the lion’s teeth then!”) and handed me the equipment. We made a big show-and-tell out of checking the lion’s teeth (complete with dramatic roars and all) and when she turned the page, Elliott was now ready to do the checking himself (hip hip hooray!).
He held onto the dental mirror and checked the hippo’s teeth, and even got to check my teeth. Hur hur (note to self – Should have brushed my teeth twice and gargled with mouthwash before the visit!). Most importantly, he allowed Dr Ong to check his teeth willingly! Whoop!
Ok, it wasn’t without hiccups though (other than that massive meltdown regarding that train table). Dr Ong asked that I bend him forward and let him lie on my thighs so that she can check his teeth (instead of us sitting on the dentist’s chair). He yelled, screamed and cried VERY LOUDLY.
I honestly don’t remember much at this point because I just held him down (bad mother moment) and let Dr Ong check his teeth really really quickly. After she was done (and she was really quick!), she cheerfully informed us that Elliott has no cavities – hip hip hooray – and proclaimed loudly to me: WELL DONE MUMMY! At that moment, I felt like AWESOME MOTHER OF THE YEAR, yo. Hur hur.
And just like that, we were done with Elliott’s first dental visit.
The damage for the quick visit? A painful S$160. Ouch. I was told by my friend who recommended Dr Ong that the first visit is always the most expensive so I’m hoping that on our next visit – one year later and appointment made!! – it will be easier on the pocket. Oh, but I also found out that you can pay using Baby Bonus so I should remember to bring his card the next time we are there.
Still, I am a firm believer that prevention is better than cure and knowing that Elliott’s pearlies are in order makes me happy.