Around the age of three, children usually go to see the dentist for the first time. I figured, no big deal. He'll just go to my regular dentist, have his teeth cleaned, and all would be good. Or not. Actually, the cleaning went surprisingly well. Gavin was a model patient. He sat still, opened his mouth big like an alligator (or crocodile - can't remember which one we were pretending to be that day), and didn't cry, scream, or punch anyone in the face. All seemed well, until the dentist mentioned that he had a cavity. Ugh.
Now, the fact is, Gavin is going to have to have a lot of dental work in his life - braces, teeth implants, and he'll have to have his gumline built in places, so the last thing I want is for him to be in and out of the dentist all the time having cavities filled. But, I figured that we would get this small cavity taken care of, then we'd really step up the dental hygiene, and that would be the end of our worries. So, I scheduled to have the filling done with the same dentist - my dentist. Before I left, I had asked the hygienist how they go about filling a cavity on a three-year-old. Her response: We numb it.
A little alarm went off in my head. You numb it? That's it? But I figured, hey, he did so well with the cleaning, maybe he'd surprise me with the filling. Wrong.
Needless to say, it did not go well. He did fine with the numbing, but once the dentist started drilling, it was all over. The dentist was unable to finish the cavity (due to Gavin's lack of cooperation), so he threw some sealant on his tooth and referred us to a pediatric dentist. Now, getting into a pediatric dentist is apparently somewhat of a chore in this area - there is a supposed lack of pediatric dentists - so we had to be put on a few waiting lists while someone tried to squeeze us in.
A few weeks later, we were able to get an appointment (which was apparently just a consultation, but I didn't know that at the time). Once we got to the office, I realized that this is what I should have done from the start - taken Gavin to a pediatric dentist.
1. They have a child-friendly waiting room. As any parent knows, this can be a lifesaver at times.
2. They have tv's on the ceilings so kids can watch cartoons or their favorite movie (they can even bring their own movie) while they're getting their teeth cleaned or getting a cavity filled.
3. The dentist was very knowledable about Gavin's cleft. She gave me good advice that I hadn't heard from anyone else - like the fact that I need to find a good orthodontist by the time he's 5.
4. They took x-rays unlike my dentist. This allowed them to find two smaller cavities that need to be monitored.
5. They came up with a comprehensive plan for cavity prevention in the future that included more than brushing and flossing.
6. They knew how to work with kids. (My dentist was really lacking in this area).
Even if Gavin didn't have a cleft, I would still take him to a pediatric dentist. The overall care for children was far superior than what we got at my general dentist. So, when it's time to start taking your kids to get their teeth cleaned, get a referral to a pediatric dentist. In my opinion, it's totally worth it.