Healthcare High Needs

Toddler’s First Visit to the Dentist

Most people hate visiting the dentist as adults. Imagine how children must feel? Baobao was around 2 years old when we decided that she should have a her first dentist visit since she had started eating chocolate, drinking yoghurt and refusing to brush her inner teeth. Apparently you are supposed to bring your baby to the dentist once the first tooth comes in – and especially if they are breastfeeding as night feeds ‘supposedly’ cause tooth decay.

Even though a first dentist to the visit is more about familiarity with the environment rather than an actual cleaning of teeth, it still must be able to make the toddler feel safe. The only question was, how do you find a dentist you trust enough to take care of your spirited high needs toddler?

Choosing A Dentist

The Cheapest Dentist?

I asked other parents where they usually brought their toddler to for their first dental visit and they basically said to go with the national healthcare services dentist. The School Dental Centre by Health Promotion Board charges around $9 per visit and the waitlist for an appointment is around 3 months when I last checked in October 2019. Although it is an affordable option with a short waitlist, the uncertainty of the standard of the dentist unnerved me as I have had tremendously bad experiences with the national healthcare system with regards to dentists.

Public Dentist?

Some government hospitals like NUH and KKH offer dental services for children under paediatric dentistry but I didn’t check the price of those.

Private Dentist?

There are a large number of private dentists and paediatric dentists in Singapore but for a full scope we decided to go with a paediatric dentist rather than a general dentist since they would be more specialised with children. I decided to check with the hospital I gave birth at to see if they had a specialist dentistry department and they did.

They had 2 pediatric dentists on staff – one who was quite popular online with a waitlist of 4 months for weekdays and 12 months for weekends. Yikes. The other dentist was available within the next week and regularly volunteered at a known special needs school. I chose the latter.

The Visit

We arrived early to do registration and were sent off to wait at the waiting room outside the paediatric dentist section. I love the fact that there was a reading nook and little toddler chairs for children. Baobao went after all the books in shelves and enjoyed herself while waiting.

Waiting area

“Baobao!” (not her real name) the nurse called out.
“Baobao??? No! No! No!” she reacted and dragged her feet as we tried to bring her into the dentist’s office. The books didn’t work anymore. None of the toys in the room worked. She grabbed the walls and tried to flee. Carried her in, closed the door and she tried to pull the door open to escape.

She clung to the animal-decorated walls of the office ignoring us as we tried to get her to lie in the chair. We posed for a photo instead to calm her down (only slightly) while I sat in the chair and put her on my lap.

Basically the idea was to lean her backwards to lie on the lap of the dentist who was sitting opposite me while her mouth was open and teeth were being counted and checked. Even though the television was on with her favourite Cocomelon nursery rhymes, she screamed and cried. It didn’t hurt, it was more of an uncomfortable unknown situation for her at that point in time. The check was over pretty quickly and within minutes she was back to her usual self happily playing.

As a souvenir, she received a new toothbrush, toothpaste and the framed photo we took earlier. We kept the framed photo on the fridge – which she likes to look at and fondly remember. Thank goodness it was not a traumatic memory to her!

Was it worth it to me? Definitely, considering the types of doctors we have encountered throughout the first two years of her life who were unable to deal with her personality and how to manage it.

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