My earliest memory of the dentist is actually a pleasant one. I was six years old and the dentist’s two pretty young assistants gave me toys and read stories to me as I began to feel sleepy, very sleepy. When I woke up, my father was carrying me out of the dentist’s surgery – minus all my teeth.
Fast forward a good number of years and I was taking my own preschool children to the dentist. It was a visit I began dreading as the dentists always seemed to scold me. I got chastised for not bringing them for more regular visits, for not brushing their teeth at night, for letting them brush their own teeth at times and for giving them too much candy. This last accusation I have to strongly deny as I was not the supplier of the sweet treats. They were the result of too many parties at preschool with take-home party packs full of non-nutritional, tooth-decaying substances.
Back to the point at hand, on one of my five-year-old daughter’s first visits to the dental clinic, there were about four offending teeth that had to be removed. My daughter, a sensitive soul – to say the least – was screaming till she was blue in the face. I tried desperately to keep her little hands from removing the dentist’s tools from her blood-filled mouth, while the dentist and her assistant tried to go about their business.
“Prevent your children’s visits to the dentist from being as traumatic as mine by brushing their teeth at least morning and night, but preferably after all meals.”
Now, I could never stand the sight of blood for as long as I can remember and started feeling queasy. Passing it off as my imagination, I stood there stubbornly until my head started spinning. It was then that I decided it was time to call my husband, who was reading his book in the car. But it was a minute too late. As I stood with the mobile phone pressed to my ear, now desperate for my husband to answer, I went crashing down on my side.
When I came to, my husband, the nurse and her assistant – and my daughter (the original patient) were all standing over me. I tried to sit and as my hand brushed against my ear, it came back with blood on it. I had fallen on my mobile phone which had opened up and cut my ear. The dentist cleaned up my ear and ordered me to go and have it stitched. Fortunately, my dad, who has since passed away, was a doctor. My husband drove me to him and he stitched up my ear promptly.
Over the next few days, my friends and family all heard about my visit to the dentist. It was so hard to stop them from laughing that I decided to lick my wounds and join them. In retrospect, it was actually quite funny.
The moral of the story? Prevent your children’s visits to the dentist from being as traumatic as mine by brushing their teeth at least morning and night, but preferably after all meals. Brush their teeth for them until they are seven no matter how tired you are, keep them away from tooth-decaying substances, take them to the dentist every six months and, most importantly, don’t stay in the dentist’s room if you can’t stand the sight of blood!
By Sara Essop