I hate going to the dentist.
I’ve never liked it.
Even as a kid when the dentist would give you stickers for good behavior and stick posters of possessed looking teddy bears on his ceiling for you to look at, I hated it. They were always judging me and my oral hygiene those teddy’s on the ceiling – eyes full of contempt and (from what I remember) wearing questionable clothing…it was acceptable in the 80s.
So now I have kids, I’m expected to be all sensible and brave about our 6 monthly trips to the tooth doctor and, the fact is, I find it very difficult not to cry and have a tantrum about going.
In the 2 weeks leading up to my appointment, I spend most of my day brushing, rinsing and flossing those pearly whites in the vain hope that they won’t notice that I haven’t flossed twice daily for the last 6 months. Apparently you’re also meant to floss your kids teeth nowadays too – even their milk teeth. I have enough trouble getting them to not eat the toothpaste let alone not digesting the floss tape!
I also preempt the questions the dentist will ask the kids and rehearse their answers, “how many times do you brush each day?,” “how long do you brush for?,” “do you use mouthwash?” etc, etc…I hate the kids dental quiz bit! You never know what they are going to say.
My dentist is lovely, don’t get me wrong. Luck would have it that our dentist looks exactly like Dr Ranj off the CBeebies hit show, “Get well soon”…
(What a shame?!)
…so the kids love him and my eldest boy even felt compelled to tell our dentist that he looks just like him at his very first appointment. The dentist clearly didn’t have a clue who he was being compared to (he looks far too young and carefree to have children yet) but he humoured Luke and said he would watch the programme when he got home to find out who it was…hopefully he wasn’t offended.
We always visit the dentist after school so the kids get to brush their teeth in the bathroom there which is the height of excitement. Who knew that you could use a hand drier to dry your teeth after you’ve brushed them…my kids, that’s who. They remind me of when a dog hangs it’s head out the window of a car, with the white toothpaste foam acting as the dog slobber…
We go to the waiting room, after drying our mouths on the hand drier sufficiently (if you can’t beat them join them I say) and take our seats until we are called.
Dentists waiting rooms are hell on earth for me. They’re quiet (the kids aren’t) they smell of hospital and all you can hear are my kids, who are fighting over the one children’s book left in the waiting room, and the sound of the dreaded dentists drill – 2 of the most horrendous sounds known to man.
The wait seems to last forever and when the dental nurse does come to call us upstairs, I feel like bolting for the door.
The kids squeal with excitement, “yay!! It’s our turn!!” and I die a little inside.
Here we go…
The melody of Chopin’s ‘Funeral march’ plays as I take the long walk down the corridor of drilling noise and up the stairs to meet my (filling) maker…
“Hello!” Says the jolly dentist.
“How are we all?”
I’m Crapping my pants!! That’s how I’m feeling!! Give me the sodding laughing gas, now!!!!! And a sticker.”
“Oh, hello! We are all fine thank you aren’t we boys?” I say in my most convincing ‘I’m not worried’ voice.
“Yes,” reply Luke and Zak whilst jumping up and down and practically hugging the dentist, “but Mummy isn’t”.
How do they know?!
“Mummy doesn’t like the dentist very much” announces Luke.
Well this is awkward, thank you Luke!!
“It’s not that I don’t like it, I just get a bit nervous” I reply.
“That’s quite alright,” replies almost Dr Ranj the dentist, “Shall we let mummy go first so she doesn’t sit there and get anymore nervous boys? And you boys can see that it’s nothing to worry about then too…”
Great. Just great. I’m now being humiliated with sympathy by my own children and I’ve also got to be brave during my time in the chair to prove to them this is nothing to worry about. Arse.
“Yes, let mummy go first,” the kids say. And as the chair goes backwards, I peer over at my children until they are out of view, who are currently smirking at me like Wednesday and Pugsley Addams…
I open my mouth as instructed and, now I’m verbally incapacitated, so begin the questions from my children for the dentist. And I am helpless to tell them to shut up…
“What are you doing that for?” Luke asks.
“Doing what?” Replies the dentist, “Counting and saying things while you poke mummy’s teeth?”
“I’m checking what teeth your mummy has, if they are ok and how healthy her gums are” the dentist informs him.
“Well she does drink coke-a-cola and eat sweeties so they might not be very good” mutters Luke. Little dobber. Just you wait until I’m out this chair…
“Well as long as mummy has been brushing ok, a little bit of fizzy pop won’t do too much harm, but it would be better if she didn’t have any at all…”
Alright!! Jeez!! Just you wait until you have kids ‘Dr Ranj’ you’ll resort to haribo and caffeine for breakfast too. And anyway, it’s not the cola and sweets that are staining my teeth, it’s all the red wine!
“So what do you want to be when you are older Luke?” Asks the dentist.
“A policeman. So I can look after people…or a night guard,”
“A night guard? What is one of those?”
“It’s a man who looks after places at night to keep them safe. I want to do that because you get to drink cola and eat loads of doughnuts. I love doughnuts – they’re delicious.”
Oh holy Christ, why don’t you just tell the dentist that I let you brush your teeth with fanta and that you only brush once a week?
“Well a policeman is a good job but eating doughnuts isn’t good for your body or your teeth is it…?” the dentist says.
“No, not really” Luke says thoughtfully, “maybe mummy shouldn’t buy us doughnuts anymore…”
That’s right. My fault once again. Obviously I force feed them to you Luke…
The dentist then finishes up counting and tells me I’ve done well with my teeth (hurrah!! Victory is mine!!) and they all look fine. Hasn’t mummy done well!!
“But I do just need to give them a little clean…” the dentist says politely.
I look over and see the disappointed faces of my children, disapprovingly shaking their heads at me.
“Mummy hasn’t cleaned her teeth very well has she…that’s a bit naughty” declares Luke.
I feel like I’ve let them down terribly, their disappointed faces remind me of when I was a child and I had to inform my teacher that I had managed to stitch my sewing project to my skirt because i was doing it on my lap…oh, the indignity!
“She has cleaned them well Luke, but grown ups sometimes need a bit of help keeping them clean and that’s what I help with.”
“That’ll be because of all those sweeties she’s had.”
The final blow. He’s in big trouble once we are in the car…
After I’ve had my teeth cleaned it’s Luke’s turn. Payback time for mummy.
“So Luke, how many times do you brush your teeth each day?” imposter Dr Ranj asks.
“Twice!” He shouts gleefully.
Phew, that’s my boy. I hate the dentist interrogation bit…
“And how long do you brush for?”
“Erm…well…Erm…what was it you told me to say for this question mummy? I’ve forgotten.”
And I never did get my sticker.