Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Brushing Teeth

It is raining here today. My hope is that the bathroom will be chosen as Plan B over the sandbox this afternoon. Send good thoughts my way, if you don't mind.

On my "To Do" list today is to make dentist appointments for both of the boys. I've been putting it off, I'll admit. I face taking our older son there with complete dread, and it's no walk in the park for him, either.

When his teeth first emerged, I was such an overzealous mother! I couldn't wait to brush his teeth. I bought the infant brushing kits which contained a rubber sleeve with attached bristles intended to be placed over one's index finger. The finger becomes the toothbrush as it gently and easily glides across the new teeth.

Yeah, right. I simply was not prepared for the amount of crying and body thrashing that happened when I put my finger in his mouth. He quickly learned to use his teeth to bite me, so I ditched that method. What a stupid invention.

Frankly, I never found an acceptable method. It was never fun. He hated having his mouth touched. He would fight and cry if anyone came near him with the intention of putting their hands in his mouth. Eventually, I started strapping him into his high chair, holding him captive so that he couldn't get to far away from me. I would come at him from behind and work as quickly as possible. My goal was for him to never know what hit him.

I would gladly have given anyone the opportunity to try a "gentler" method if they thought they could do it. But, believe me, there just wasn't one.

Unfortunately, the day came where I could no longer use that high chair. I kept him in it so long he could practically tip it over. Sigh. That was a sad day. No more acceptable mode of confinement for this Energizer Bunny. It took two people to brush his teeth. He had such a sensory aversion to having his teeth touched/brushed that he would fight, kick, scream and run. So, I needed one person to hold his arms. I would hold his legs and quickly brush.

And I was never able to hug away his tears. Our son just didn't like being touched. Period. No hugs. No kisses. And no freaking toothbrush.

Ugh. The dentist.

We go to a dentist that specializes in children with autism and sensory processing disorders. She is wonderful. We have had therapists come with us in order to make the experience easier on everyone. I pack a bag of favored toys. He brings a security blanket.

And, yes, I even bring a vacuum.

There have been times when he has opened his mouth for them. There have been times when he has stubbornly clamped his lips shut as if to say, "I'm not doing it, and you can't make me." There have also been times when the dentist and I have been on the floor with a screaming child as he fights to get away.

We have far more fighting than cooperation and are fast approaching the world of sedation dentistry. If that happens, I'm tempted to ask if parents are allowed to have a little whiff of whatever gas they are giving the kids so that we can all come out the other side alive.

Mention tooth brushing to a group of typical moms, and you might get complaints here and there about the poor habits of their kids. Yet, you mention toothbrushing to a group of special needs moms, and you will hear groans of dread and frustration. It is something seemingly so simple for most people yet a perfect example of how someone with special needs has to work so much harder to do it.

In this house, we get those teeth brushed, but we don't like it. And now, I have a phone call to make. I've put it off long enough.

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