A few of us mothers were discussing the issue of teeth and how to get our kids to visit the dentist without fear. Afterall the fear of dentists is one of the most prevalent phobias, right up there with the fear of public speaking.
I think in Singapore, the fear of dentists can be attributed largely to those very fierce female dentists at the Institute of Dental Health. I remember lying prone in the chair, bright spotlight blaring in my face and a very sharp implement in my mouth. All I could see was a face with a white mask over the mouth and eyes that narrowed with disapproval every time a cavity was found. This would be accompanied by an endless verbal onslaught of how carelessly I'd neglected to brush and floss, making me wish I just could spit out all the gunk and make a run for it (I probably would have if I wasn't so terrified and immobilised).
Going to the dentist during my childhood was a dreaded yearly ritual for me, so I was determined not to let my kids undergo the same ordeal. My current dentist is a super nice guy - he's soft-spoken, gentle and reassuring. Upon his advice, I would bring Lesley-Anne and Andre to him when I went for my checkup, just so they could get used to going to the dentist. They both started going when they were about 3 and he would chat with them, get them to open their mouths and take a look, maybe squirt some water to show that there was nothing to worry about.
But despite all that, Lesley-Anne still developed a fear of dentists. When she was 6, she had to have a little filling and I could see her clutching the side of her chair the whole time. I blame it squarely on the scary, ear-piercing drill. Come on, it sounds like it can penetrate your skull, hard to imagine what it's actually doing to a little piece of enamel!
Once your kids hit primary school, their basic dental problems are taken care of by the school's dental clinic and nurse. This is great news for me as they usually handle all the small stuff like extractions, polishing and minor fillings, so no need for private dental visits. Or so I thought. When Lesley-Anne had a shaky tooth and the permanent one impatiently on the way, we still had to bring her to our dentist, who sweet-talked her and slathered on strawberry flavoured anesthetic before gently extracting the culprit. That'll be $30, thank you.
Andre, on the other hand, surprised me. He has no such qualms about dentists. He didn't understand why all his friends feared the dental checkup and volunteered to go first. In p1, he had two shaky teeth and was whining about how difficult it was to chew his food. I made a passing comment that he should go to his school dentist to have them taken care of. That evening when he came home from school, I was startled when he handed me his two teeth in a little bag. It seems he had nonchalantly made a trip to the dental clinic at recess and said, "My two teeth are shaky, please pull them out for me." Whaaa...t?? Even Kenneth was impressed. Best part, it's free!
I'm resigned to my kids having a long-term relationship with the dentist. Both of them have large teeth and small mouths, never a good combination. Their teeth also seem to be free spirits, sprouting from wherever they feel like it, so braces are inevitable. Ah well, we've still got a few more years, so time to start saving up now.
Performing for Ghosts - Hungry Ghost month came & went. I don't miss the ashes flying about or watching out where I walk in case I trip over some offering. But I do look forward...
7 months ago