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Dr. Shellie

Twenty-two months ago, we introduced Simon to the dentist. It was awful. He had injured a tooth and we took him to the dentist and had it fixed before he’d ever gone for a basic cleaning. A papoose board was involved. Hysterical crying ensued. No one got out of that office unscathed. Even now when I read about the episode I cringe.

So awful was this introductory pediodontic session that I kind-of sort-of allowed myself to forget to make an appointment for a follow-up cleaning session, a cleaning he was supposed to have had by age eighteen months. I had a hard time picturing Simon so freaked out again (honestly, the sounds from the papoose board got feral), and I wasn’t sure how I’d handle it myself.

But when I got on the phone two weeks ago to schedule Tristan’s teeth cleaning, the jig was up. You cannot pay $200+ for feline dentistry and “forget” to have your own child’s teeth cleaned. Especially when the child has dental insurance. It was time to face the music.

Our appointment was last Friday, and what a difference twenty-two months makes! It seemed at the time the unlikeliest possible outcome, but Simon was a champ. No crying, no fussing, no resisting, and not even that much in the way of visible nerves. The hygienist, Miss Barbara, was a pro, showing Simon each tool, giving it a silly name, demonstrating it, and letting Simon play with it a bit. Yes, even the metal hook had a name and got played with.

I got to sit on the edge of the chair with him, Simon got praised about every 2 minutes for his “good job with your listening”, and at each step he was reminded that his help made Miss Barbara’s job faster and easier. When Dr. Shellie (Branson) came by to discuss Simon’s re-chipped tooth (the repair broke about a year ago), I realized that this injury, so hysteria inducing two years ago, was no big deal today. It doesn’t seem to bother Simon, the chip is superficial and not going to cause decay, and I’ve long since accepted the cosmetic aspect as just a part of what makes Simon unique. Simon wasn’t the only person in the chair who had matured since our last visit.

Thirty minutes after we got called into the examining room, Simon was choosing two toys from the bin on his way out. Really, the only bad part of the entire visit came when Ms. Barbara performed her ritual of maternal humiliation: painting Simon’s teeth with pink goo, brushing them, and then showing me what parts I was brushing well (the white bits), what parts I was brushing not-so-well (the light pink bits), and where I was completely derelict in my duties (the hot pink bits). Let’s just say that a wide swathe of Simon’s mouth was the “it” color of summer 2010.

So while Simon walked out the door with one blue bouncy ball and one hot pink one, my own parting gifts were flossers, a two-minute timer, and instructions for how Mommy Dentist is supposed to do her work going forward. I’ll do my best, but I have to wonder: Do any parents out there really brush their actual human children’s teeth for a full two minutes? I can barely brush my own for that long! (The Sonicare session is the longest two minutes of my day by a wide margin.) Or do we all just accept the semiannual ritual humiliation at the pediatric dentist’s office as part of the parenting package?

2 Responses to “Dr. Shellie”

  1. goldsteinrita says:


  2. blg says:

    Related to the fact that I am only a regular daily flosser in the two weeks before my dental check-up.
    And that I won’t go to the dermatoligist in the summer when I have a tan.

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