How To Get To A Dental Appointment In Rush Hour With A Baby In A Pushchair

Don't try this at home

How to get to a dental appointment with a baby

by Nell Frizzell |
Updated on

A pneumatic drill to the face holds little fear to any woman who has recently given birth. And so this week, as I checked my diary (while simultaneously cooking porridge, keeping the bin shut with my foot and being hit in the thigh with a Lego dragon), it wasn’t the prospect of pain that had me worried; rather, rush hour.

Like some sort of D-grade amateur I had booked a dentist appointment, a train journey away, at 9am. As smack, bang and in the middle of rush hour as a peak price ticket. Now, as a lifelong cyclist and currenthome worker, I feel about rush hour the way sailors feel about icebergs: disquiet, mixed with a sort of mythical wonder and urge to abandon ship. I rarely have cause to origami myself into a rabbit hutch, nor do I spend much time scuba diving through puffa jackets, so I am as utterly unprepared for rush hour travel as I am crack cocaine.

Of course, I have also managed to book a dentist appointment for a day when absolutely nobody I know is free at 9 o’clock in the morning to come and sit in a peppermint-smelling office and read The Bumblebear while I get water squirted into my crevices. Which means I have two options: cancel entirely (and possibly incur a fine), or bite down and give it a shot. I choose the latter.

I am now the proud owner of two very useful things: a fold up pushchair and an unwavering gaze. I can give eye contact to a man at 40 paces. I can catch a glace running at full pelt. And so, as I karate chop my buggy into two, grab my son, stagger down the stairs of my local station and hoof it along the platform to the beeping doors I manage to wrench a good second’s worth of eye contact with at least three people standing in the train vestibule trying to wish themselves out of existence. Like good city people they give me a quick look up and down, sigh and shuffle approximately 12cm to their left, right or rear. I have my chance. I step up into the train, my rucksack suddenly feeling the size of a Ford Mondeo, my son sliding down my hip like crude oil and the pushchair in my hand. We make it and, of course, my son immediately strikes up a friendship with a young guy in glasses who is, I can only assume, a semi-professional peekaboo player. While they take some time to bond, I surreptitiously run my tongue along my gums to check on the flow of blood that was spawned by this morning’s last minute panic bout of flossing. Still going, but not enough to stop me having a bash on the softmint I found in an inside pocket.

Once we get to the dentist’s I start to unpack. This takes some time. In fact, it looks like I’m going on the world’s least romantic minibreak to the dentist’s. First, there are the toys: a chewable wooden ring, a Playmobil bus driver, an old remote control, a tupperware full of unpopped corn, a Winnie the Pooh ball and a clothes peg, to name but the highlights. Then I take out the (I hope) dentist-friendly snacks: sliced apple, rice cakes, raisins, a satsuma, breadsticks, sliced grapes, sweetcorn and a handful of cooked broccoli that I know will make the entire building smell of flatulent uncle if I dare open it indoors. Then I unpack the books. Then the puppets. Then I accidentally pull out a dirty nappy in a carrier bag that I’d forgotten about. Then, at last, I give my surname and fill in the forms.

The secret to a single-handed appointment, whether that’s the dentist, the bank manager or a smear test is, I realise, just strapping your baby into the buggy for as long as you can get away with it. An incredibly kind dental nurse comes in with an inflated latex glove she has decorated with a sticker advertising a brand of toothpaste. With this strange little pair of udders my son is utterly occupied for at least seven minutes, giving me time to get my teeth x-rayed. Then, as the dentist mentions root canal, my idiot son manages to trap a fold of hand skin in the clothes peg I use to attach the blankets to his buggy and starts wailing like a man in the midst of, well, root canal. Flustered and irritated, I get him out of the buggy and, like all great and lazy mothers, start to breastfeed him under the glowing halogen tooth light until he has calmed down. My dentist shuffles some paper.

Although still sniffing and looking a bit red around the eyes, I manage to extricate my son from under my jumper and strap him back in the buggy, only remembering a few seconds later that my boob is still very much on show. I smile awkwardly, tuck everything away and go back to lie down for a teeth clean. The sight and sounds of this - the whine, the gurgling, two people hunched over my open mouth with tools - sends my son off into another fit of wailing. So I whip two of my trusty hand puppets (Spot the Dog and a seal called Humphrey) and start doing a little silent play across my lap, as the dentist grinds against my cavities and the nurse sucks spit out from the side of my tongue. There is dancing, there is kissing and, of course, there are ornate leaps off the spit sink onto the trampoline of my stomach. My son watches on, chewing his bib noiselessly.

Within twenty minutes the whole thing is finished. I walk out of the surgery with tingling gums, a rucksack full of toys, and a tear-stained child gently palpating what looks like a dead man’s hand.

Mission: accomplished.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us