Sunday, September 14, 2014

To the Dentist We Will Go...

Whew! We made it through our first dental appointment.

I think it's totally fair for me to say that the idea of taking 3-year-old quadruplets to the dentist made me nervous. I don't mind the dentist as an adult, but I think my nervousness stemmed from the sheer number of kids I was taking, plus, some not-so-great memories of my childhood dentist. He wasn't a very nice or patient guy. Ugh.

So when I started the search for a dentist here in Kansas City for my kids, I was hoping to find one that was nice, could handle four kids at the same time, and have a way of handling my special needs kids without getting frustrated with me or them.

We have a great local multiples group, so I checked with them for dentist recommendations and then I checked our local parenting magazine for their top rated dentist as well. We ended up at Smiles Dentistry for Kids. I think it was a good choice!

They got all of us back right after we walked in, so that was the first mark in their favor! Keeping four kids occupied in a waiting room is NOT fun. Although their waiting rooms was filled with toys, so my kids were delighted with the five minutes that they got to play.

All four dental hygienists came to get the kids and introduce themselves to me. They were so sweet, personable, and great with the kids! They also each asked about heath concerns for their assigned kid. That's very much appreciated as we still have a slew of health concerns that have to be mentioned.

The kids ended up in two big, open rooms right next to each other, with everyone getting their teeth cleaned at the same time. Seriously, this was so well-played on the part of the office. None of the kids were kept waiting which is often the difference between total meltdown and success. Super grateful for that!
Abby watching her cartoon

Abby and Ellie did great with their cleanings! The office had a TV over each chair so that the kids could watch cartoons during their cleaning....why don't we have that in our adult dentist offices??
Elijah practicing his teeth brushing on a very toothy dragon

Elijah fretted a bit, but they were able to get his teeth brushed. I'm not sure that they were able to use the spinning round brush like they did on the girls (I was distracted with Caleb), but I know they were able to do something with him
Ellie....totally chill during her cleaning. Lol!

Caleb was a whole other story. His cleaning went about as well as I figured it would. How do you explain to a kid who is autistic and doesn't talk that the nice lady is trying to help him? *sigh* He ended up straddling my lap and then laying back into the hygienist's lap while I pinned his arms down. It was a VERY quick cleaning. I think it did help that I was holding him though. Many thanks to his hygienist for suggesting that method to make him more comfortable!
Caleb having his teeth cleaned

After the kids all had their teeth cleaned, the hygienists brought out a teeth brushing book on an ipad and big stuffed animals and tooth brushes so that the kids could learn how to brush properly. It was one big game for the kids, but I sure appreciated the extra reinforcement that brushing teeth is a good idea!
Abby checking her dragon's teeth

Then Dr. Hillman came out to meet the kids and check their teeth. He ended up being a very nice dentist and quite the opposite of my pediatric dentist. Yay! The girls both checked out great! No cavities at all! Elijah didn't have any cavities, but we found out that he has enamel hypoplasia. That's when the enamel is too thin and there isn't enough of it to protect the teeth. Dr. Hillman said that it's a common issue with preemies. Darn it!

Caleb also has enamel hypoplasia. Unfortunately, between that issue and his tendency to not allow us to fully brush his teeth, he already has a cavity in one of his back molars. I'm so sad about that. We do the best we can to brush his teeth, but it's a whole other ballgame helping Caleb cope with some parts of his life. Teeth brushing is not a favorite activity, so he clamps down. When the doctor was looking at his teeth, it was a three person job holding him still so that he wouldn't suddenly turn his head and bite the dentist.

We now get to put him under to get that tooth fixed. Dr. Hillman said that normally he could fix the cavity really quickly without having to do anything extra, but Caleb would either need to be immobilized in a papoose-type of wrap or he would need anesthesia. We really don't want to put him through restraints like that and have him more traumatized, so instead we are going the anesthesia route. Poor kid. There is just no end to the stuff he has to deal with. Suddenly, their checkup just got a whole lot more expensive.  Now we have to go back through cardiology to get it cleared over there and then to his primary doctor to get it cleared with him. It will be a quick, in-office procedure, but it's still anesthesia so it has to be signed off on by everyone.

Now I'm trying to figure out how to get him to open his mouth fully during our at-home brushing so that we can avoid all of this in the future.
Dr. Hillman and Ellie

BUT, in spite of Caleb's issues, it was a really good first dental appointment! I think the next time will be even easier for Abby, Ellie, and Elijah...hopefully it will get easier for Caleb over time. And of course, I'm sure the prizes and sugar-free suckers that the office gave the kids for doing so well will be good motivation to go back! I was really impressed with the office and how well they anticipated needing to keep things moving for my little guys. :)

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  1. This dental office looks like they really pay attention to what works for small kids, especially ones with special needs. Sounds like your own childhood experience with a dentist was much like my own. Even though my parents found a pediatric dentist, he was NOT child-friendly! I was terrified of him. One time, I was scared, and I accidentally bit his finger while he was doing something painful to my teeth. He gave my jaw a little shake and said, very meanly: "Don't you ever bite me again." Every visit after that, I cried when I knew it was dentist day. Thank goodness for my orthodontist, the sweetest man alive who gave me a new appreciation for dentists! Good luck with your next visit, especially the cavity-filling one!
    Lee Ann


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