The Time When We Were On The Same Page (And Then We Weren’t)

It seems like my kids are never on the same page. When one kid is sick, the other one is healthy. When one kids wants to watch a movie, the other one wants to go outside. When one kid wants the lights on, the other wants them off. When one kid wants elbows, the other one wants bow ties. When one kid is afraid of the dentist, the other isn’t.

Oh the stories I could tell you about taking Dylan to the dentist! (The time I chased him into the parking lot comes to mind easily!) Years ago, our dentist suggested that more frequent visits might help desensitize him. She’s one of the wonderful medical professionals in our lives that truly understands SPD, so I genuinely appreciated her suggestion. Still, I couldn’t help but think of a few suggestions for her, like having an open bar in the waiting room or a child drop-off lane out front, because the thought of taking Dylan to the dentist more than absolutely necessary was mindboggling. Every six months, we endured the sometimes good, the mostly bad, and the often ugly. I hoped for the best, expected the worst, and prayed for no cavities, because surely he (and I) would need sedation to survive such a sensory calamity.

During that same time frame, Riley was a champ. For some reason, going to the dentist was as fun for him as going to the zoo or Costco. He was so easy at cleanings that I could scroll through my Facebook feed during appointments.

Thankfully, the stress of taking Dylan to the dentist eased up over time. Eventually, he sat in the chair by himself. He got used to the taste of the toothpaste (vanilla only, thank you very much) and tolerated the sound and sensation of the vibrating toothbrush, the water squirter, and the suction-thingy. He gagged less, and X-rays were doable because they got a fancy new machine that took images without having to stick anything in the back of his mouth.   I wish they had that at my dentist’s office!

It goes without saying that around the time Dylan finally chilled out at the dentist, Riley became deathly afraid.  About a year ago, he had to have his two front teeth extracted because of an unfortunate face plant that happened when he was two years old. The initial incident “immobilized” his front teeth.  They hung on for a while, but by the time he turned four, an infection sprouted in his gums, a scenario we were warned was likely to happen. Sadly, the extraction traumatized him. The poor kid was convinced that if he opened his mouth, they would pull another tooth! After that, Dylan was the easy one (by comparison), and Riley was so difficult that I was once asked to wait outside so they could do whatever it was they did (and didn’t want parents to see or hear) to get the cleaning done.

Last week, I took both kids to the dentist at the same time. I figured simultaneous appointments would be okay since Riley was (most likely) the wild card. If he needed some extra encouragement or a hug (or a bribe), I could give him the attention he needed.

The stakes were pretty high. On one end of the room was Dylan with SPD, and on the other end of the room was Riley with PTSD. Not surprisingly, nothing went as planned, but, thankfully, it all played out in a very good way. No one cried or screamed, no one gagged or tried to escape, and no one asked me to wait outside. The boys had a race to see who would finish first (including flossing and the fluoride treatment), they didn’t fight when Dylan won (by a hair!), and they even chose the same prize from the treasure box. Everything was totally and completely okay. They were fine and finally on the same page!

That is, until our dentist informed me that it’s time to seal Dylan’s molars, a procedure that will protect his back teeth from cavities but will require him to have his mouth open really, really wide for approximately forever fifteen minutes. It’s no big deal, but for a kid with SPD, it’s new and unfamiliar and scary and stressful and a very big deal.

“Do you want us to do it right now?” our dentist asked.

I looked at Dylan. All the color had drained from his face. He was terrified.

“Maybe next time,” I said.

And just like that, we weren’t on the same page anymore.

The Sensory Spectrum



Filed under brothers, dentist, sensory processing disorder, Uncategorized

8 responses to “The Time When We Were On The Same Page (And Then We Weren’t)

  1. eek! We will go to our first dentist appt in a few months, not looking forward to it – it is a weird and uncomfortable experience no matter your age. Bravo on juggling two in that weird scenario 🙂


    • I gagged at the dentist yesterday from those damn x-ray plates they shoved into the back of my mouth. It’s something hard that we have to (are supposed to) do. The kids – despite their difficulties – deserve huge pats on the back for each and every time they DON’T run out into the parking lot. Tell Ian the treasure box is AMAZING! (It really is!)


  2. I was just thinking about this phenomenon this morning as I drove into town still pondering my daughter’s school conference from yesterday and about to have my son’s today…How it does often seem that the pages vary and alternate (won’t pimp my blog here but you can look it up under “hard times alternator”).
    Brava for all this dental care though, Runaway 😉 I myself am quite arrears tho my kids are up to date. it’s just – quite a lot, right?


  3. Well thankfully your kids took turns with the dentist fears….though I feel your need for a bar at the front of the office 🙂


  4. “Still, I couldn’t help but think of a few suggestions for her, like having an open bar in the waiting room or a child drop-off lane out front” — this line is fantastic! Just the laugh I needed before heading off to sleep. For whatever odd reason, my son doesn’t mind the dentist office (I cherish this small miracle among many, many challenges).
    Great post!


  5. Amanda

    OMG…my two boys are exactly the same! And yes, I am the one that really needs a sedative when I take the older more anxious boy. The younger one, who seems to enjoy the sensations, hasn’t had any dental trauma yet and every time we go I say a little prayer! Thank you for sharing!


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