Dental Joy

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Disclaimer:  This is a shameless plug for Smiles for Kids.  Just so you know.

Ruby doesn’t like going to the dentist.  That being said, I don’t know any kids or many adults who do.  I don’t, either, but after enduring nearly 3 years of braces as a teen, the dentist seems like a walk in the park.  I know I don’t have to expect some heavy metal bands inserted into little metal grooves on my teeth.  Nor do I have to try to hook dinky rubber bands around the extra grooves, realigning my jaw while making me feel like a human trap.

We haven’t taken Ruby back to our regular dentist since the latest visit resulted in a fiasco with tears all around.  I researched the pediatric dentists recommended by our clinic.  None of them took our insurance.  Going back to the source, I called our dental plan.  They emailed a list, the closest clinic an hour away.  No go.  Not happening.

Jonathon, man about town, stumbled upon a kids’ dental clinic in Lacey.  He walked in.  He spoke to the receptionist about our health plan (state government) and she said they took it.  Amazing!  I called and scheduled an appointment.

Ruby, ever dubious, didn’t erupt with joy at the prospect.

We left when school started, a beautiful, sunny day greeting us.  Ruby sat quiet in the back seat. Puffy clouds rode the breeze to add texture to the endless blue.  Not bad, so far.

I found the clinic and we walked in. I nearly tripped on a fire truck. The young blonde receptionist greeted me.  I filled out paperwork while Ruby watched “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”.

Then another 25-year-old gal came out and talked to me.  Anorexically slender, she had completely mastered the smokey eye. Her green-blue-gray eyes stood out a mile. I couldn’t tear my eyes away.  Which was good, since she had something important to say.

“We aren’t sure your insurance will cover Ruby’s visit today, ” she told me.

I got a little hot, and it wasn’t from the sun pouring in the waiting room onto my sweatshirt-encased back.

“My husband came in and talked to you, ” I gestured towards the front desk, “and you said you took it.” I kept my voice low.

“Oh, I know, ” she reassured me. “And we do take the main form of your insurance.  But there are all these changes to plans now,” she smiled.  “We’ll have to call to make sure all our effort to be a preferred dental provider paid off.”

I looked at her.  I didn’t want to leave.  Ruby had a chance in this place. The gal stood up.

“If you want, we could still do a cleaning, since you’re here.  It’ll be $49.  We can at least get her in…”

“Yes, “I replied.  “Let’s get her in.  She needs it.”

Ruby, curled up next to me, wasn’t  listening.

We walked back to the X-ray room.  Ruby was a trooper, holding the mechanism in her mouth.  Much less unwieldy than the one at our regular dental clinic.  She got a Wreck-It Ralph sticker for her pains.

Then, the hard part.  Ruby sat in the chair and the hygienist lowered her back.  She polished Ruby’s teeth in stages.

“Do you want the magic straw? I need to get the spit out of your mouth, ” the hygienist asked, holding up the suction device.

Ruby, visibly freaked, shivered and shrunk into herself.  Aha!  That’s the thing she’s afraid of.

The young hygienist, a real pro, offered Ruby a cup to spit into.  Which she did, numerous times.

Ruby dutifully laid back down, with a little coaxing, each time.  Except for the last time, when she wouldn’t lie down for anything.  She didn’t like the buzzing, polishing little round brush, either.  At all.  She held it together until the very last part.  Ruby cried a little, brown eyes shiny. The hygienist and I cajoled, wheedled and encouraged.  I prayed a little, too, under my breath.

“How would you like hold a monkey?” the original smokey-eyed gal asked Ruby, appearing out of nowhere.

Ruby nodded.  Score!

She returned with a large stuffed monkey who sported a full set of teeth.  Creepy, to me.  Wonderful, to Ruby.  She hugged the monkey and watched the kids’ TV show playing on the ceiling.

The rest of the visit went well.  Dr. You’re Young Enough-To-Be-My-Son recommended better brushing.  I think all dentists read from the same script – brush better, floss more, etc.  Part of the dental code.

“Ruby, how do you feel?” I asked as we drove back down the highway to her school.

“I feel awesome.  I did it!” she said, her smile lighting up her whole face.

Yes, baby.   I smiled, too.  And $49 was a bargain.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.