Charlotte the Explorer Visits the Dentist

Getting ready for her teeth cleaning.
Our pediatrician recommended that Charlotte have her first dentist visit after turning 3, so I booked her appointment and ordered her a book, "Dora the Explore Visits the Dentist."

Charlotte has been on an insane Dora kick lately.

We read the book countless times, and we talked up the big visit for a couple weeks beforehand. Honestly, we might have overdone the prep, but I was very apprehensive about this visit.

On the big day, Chris was on his way to pick up Charlotte at school, right around naptime. (Genius Mommy forgot to factor in a nap while scheduling the appointment.) Her teachers kept her awake reading her books while the other kids slept, and I'm told Charlotte was SO excited, just sitting there waiting to be picked up.

Of course, Murphy's law being what it is, she dozed off about 5 minutes before Chris got there. But he rubbed her tummy, and she popped up. She bolted out of the classroom and into the hallway (where the staff was having a meeting--except for those monitoring all the nappers), shouting to all of them, "I'm going to the dentist! I'm going to the dentist!"

I met Chris and Charlotte there, and Charlotte came running up to me, squealing with glee: "MOMMY! I'm going to the dentist! EEEEEEEEEK! I'm going to the dentist!!!!" She was so excited, the child was vibrating.

A little weird, right? I mean, it's the dentist.

Well, we went in, and Charlotte climbed up into the big chair. Chris took off for his own dental exam, and the awesome hygienist showed Charlotte the instruments she'd be using.

This was never, ever going to work, I thought.

She lowered the chair, which Charlotte thought was super fun, and then asked her to open her mouth. Immediately, Charlotte did her biggest and best AHHHHH yet (we had been practicing). I couldn't believe it, but that hygienist managed to do a full teeth cleaning, including the metal scraper thing, flossing, teeth counting, the polisher, water and air and the drool sucker--all of it.

Charlotte could see me as the hygienist worked, and I kept a stupid grin on my face the whole time, so she wouldn't know I was just waiting for disaster. Meanwhile, the hygienist said, "Her teeth are really clean. Do you brush them, or does she?"

"Oh, she brushes her own teeth," I said, with possibly more mommy pride than was necessary. Besides, I was so relieved--I didn't think 3-year-olds could brush their teeth very well, but I wanted it to be HER task to do. The princess spinner brush helped, which I told the hygienist.

She looked at Charlotte. "Who's your favorite princess?"

The cleaning paused just long enough to yell, "CINDERELLA!" So, everyone getting a root canal got to know her favorite princess--the child is not quiet.

"And what's your favorite color?" the hygienist asked.

"Pink-and-purple," Charlotte immediately answered. As I've said before, to her, pink-and-purple is a single fabulous color.

The hygienist continued to work and chat with Charlotte, and a different hygienist who cleaned MY teeth last week stuck her head in. (She knew I was worried about Charlotte's first visit---lordy, I love my gossipy small town.) "She's doing AMAZING," hygienist #2 said. "Look at her!"

"I know," I said, shaking my head in disbelief. "She's incredible."

Charlotte looked freaking adorable in that big chair, her mouth open wide, her eyes open even wider. She had a hand on either side of the armchair, gripping it. The hygienist painted her teeth with a topical something or other, which again Charlotte calmly tolerated. I just couldn't believe it. When she finished, Charlotte joyfully announced, "My teeth are all clean!"

Next, the dentist came in and declared Charlotte's gums perfectly healthy and her teeth healthy and cavity-free. "Does she suck her thumb?" she asked.

I had been waiting for this. "Yes."

The dentist shrugged. "She has an overbite, but don't worry about it. We don't deal with that until 6 or 7 years old. Besides," she said, "she can self-soothe, right?"

"Totally," I said. Oh, the advantages of having a dentist who is also a mommy of three. The pediatrician had said to not tinker with the thumb-sucking, but I had worried the dentist would contradict him. The kid definitely has an overbite--it's easy to see.

Charlotte got to pick out a PRINCESS toothbrush (purple, Ariel), and she practically skipped out of the dentist's office. I was shocked--she genuinely thought the whole thing was super fun.

I was so incredibly proud of her, so I gave her an ice cream treat to celebrate when we got home.

Even now, a few days later, Charlotte looks in the mirror, smiles with all her pearly whites, and proudly says, "My teeth . . . . are SO shiny."


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