Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Mommy Dentist

Brushing teeth has been...well...somewhat of a challenge in my house. Which is an understatement. One of my Facebook friends put it best a few days ago--she likened holding her kids down to brush their teeth as "hog-tying". A more accurate analogy has never been used. It was literally a sweat-inducing, mommy-and-daddy-playing-the-not-it-game-provoking activity. And more often than I'd like to admit, I'd just put them to bed without doing it. Sometimes, after a long, trying day, the task seemed too daunting. Eh, they're baby teeth, I thought. I'd have another chance to do it better. Until..."The Mommy Dentist" came onto the scene.  That amazing woman single-handedly changed teeth-brushing in our house.

For the longest time, neither kid really enjoyed having their teeth brushed. Eventually, Amelia came around and was tolerant and compliant. Anderson...not so much. He would hide. He'd cry. He'd jerk away. If you could get a brush in there for 20 seconds, you were doing good. If you got half of his teeth on any given swipe, you were doing good. I worried about his oral hygiene and dreaded his last dentist appointment. By some stroke of luck (or maybe the fact that the boy loves him some milk), he had no cavities at his last check-up. Neither kid had any. The dentist did, however, suggest that we start flossing. I literally laughed in his face. He smiled understandingly but said that even starting with flossing between two teeth at first and then working our way up would be a good starting point. Okay, okay, I got it. We needed to do better. I left uncertain but with the goal of finding a way to work harder on the dental issue.

I bought electric toothbrushes. This made brushing at least a little more tolerable. He didn't hide anymore. But he still didn't really allow a good, thorough brushing. And he sure as hell wasn't about to let me come near him with floss.

Until...."The Mommy Dentist". She came on the scene about three weeks ago.  And the kids teeth have never been cleaner.

Three weeks ago, it was time to do the evening tooth-brushing.  My kids love role-playing; we act out going to the doctor, getting haircuts, going to the store, going to the library...you name it, we pretend it. I had the brilliant idea of pretending to be a dentist. I walked out of the bathroom and called Anderson's name--you know, just like the hygienists do in the waiting room at the dentist. "Anderson Jones?"--his eyes lit up. I went into full-on acting mode--high-pitched dramatic voice, over-excitement. The conversation went something like this:

"I'm the dentist! Would you like to come into my office and sit in my special chair (aka the couch)?"
"Yes!" Anderson literally jumped up onto the couch. Hmmmm.
"I'm going to lay the chair back now, so that I can look at your teeth!". I slowly leaned him back on the pillow. He smiled away.
"Now, I'm going to use my special brush to make your teeth all clean and shiny! Are you ready?"
"Yes!!!"  Really? Was it going to be that easy?

Turns out, yes it was. He let me brush his teeth as long as I wanted. Amelia watched and wanted me to be her dentist, too. I repeated the act with all the zeal of a Broadway actress; if this is what it was going to take to get a good brushing for both of them, then give me the Tony Award.

Every night since, I've been asked to be what they deemed "The Mommy Dentist". My favorite part is that, when it's Anderson's turn, and I'm getting his toothbrush ready, he calls for ME like the hygienist calls a patient in the waiting room. And he says...get this..."Mommy Rebecca Jones?" Melt. My. Heart. He knows all of my names, but that's what he calls me every single night. Love it.

A few nights ago, with a couple of weeks of good brushing under my belt, I decided I was going to introduce flossing. I intentionally had Amelia go first that night, and Anderson watched. Amelia was fabulous, and I only did her front teeth to get started. My plan worked like a charm--Anderson was literally BEGGING me to floss his teeth, too. And you know what? He was a perfect angel. It was nothing short of miraculous. If you could've seen him even three months ago, you'd swear I'd never get a piece of floss in that mouth. Now, he begs me to floss his teeth every night. Last night, they were getting in bed late, so I told them we didn't have time to floss. He actually got upset. What?? Insanity.

So, just call me Mommy Rebecca Jones, DMD-DDS. That's my new title in this house at bedtime. And I wouldn't have it any other way.


  1. That's GREAT! We often forget that we need to be on their level to relate sometimes. What child wouldn't love you. You're doing a fantastic job. :)