Sweet tooth for the dentist


The boys can’t wait to go to the dentist.

A tradition that started with my eldest son several years ago. Now, I shuttle two, eager boys several stations away every couple of months to get their teeth checked and cleaned.

Their dentist has gone all-in on catering to children. Lego and Playmobile figures are arranged in glass cases that appeal to children and adults. Like a good Disney movie with punchlines for the adults, I also noticed some unusual minifigs amongst the collection today. A Stay Puft Marshmellow Man minifig caught my attention and had me thinking this dentist knows a thing or two about legos.

The decor doesn’t stop with Lego either. As the kids lay down on the dentist’s chair and gaze up towards the ceiling, they are greeted with a small TV playing the Cartoon Network. There are half a dozen chairs throughout the room with children mesmerized by Sponge Bob as their plaque is scraped away. Luxuries beyond luxuries.

When you are ready to pay the bill and head home, the kids are also handed a small coin to put in the gashapon (vending machine-dispensed capsule toys). The toys are always meticulously designed erasers about the size of a big grape. The engineering on these things is something to behold. My kids got a slice of watermelon and sheep recently. Miniature in size, but big on detail. For example, the rind, meat, and seeds of the watermelon are all separately molded pieces. You really have to see it to believe it.

Even with my eldest in elementary school now, the gashapon is a big draw for going to the dentist. He keeps holding out that he’ll actually get something he likes, an airplane or train perhaps. Murphy’s Law makes sure he keeps getting watermelons and bowling pins.

The tradition is not just going to this Disneyland of dentistry. That awaits 30 minutes after the last kid finishes their cleaning. The bare minimum amount of time you need to wait after having fluoride put on your teeth.

I feel guilty about it, but the next stop is the donut shop. We take the walk from the dentist to the donut shop leisurely to pass the time. The boys love this time chatting, taking in the small streets that only cater to foot traffic, and just hanging out. The week is often winding down, with no more commitments for any of us and the weekend ahead. Finding a bench to chat about our weeks, we munch on our donuts while shooing away the pigeons. This always feels like the perfect way to spend time with my boys.

I’ve never had a complaint about going to the dentist from them. Even requests to go again the next week. If you’re looking for a way to make an experience that children shy away from or even dread, perhaps see if you might be able to sweeten the deal.