Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The gravity of a cavity

It went a little something like this.

Me asking anyone and everyone, when is the right time you are supposed to take your child to the dentist? And like most things, getting a variety of answers. Then inquiring upon my dental hygenist friends about the stains that showed up on Mason's two front teeth. Followed by me pleading with my husband to put our kids back on dental insurance because I was certain Mason was getting to that age. However it wasn't until I was filling out the many forms required for my son's preschool, and the question asking for his dentist being left empty, that I seriously decided that I needed to get on the ball.

So yesterday I did a lot of research, phone call inquires and debating in order to find the right dentist for my child. About an hour later I had an appointment scheduled with Little Pearls Dentistry for Children. I chose them mostly because they are in-network for our insurance but also because they seemed to really have the children's comfort and interests in the forefront.

That night, I prepped Mason for what to expect. To help ease any anxiety that I was sure he might have. This is where I really love the internet. Mason in my lap, I pointed out the picture of the dentist, he is going to count your teeth. And if you have any questions or concerns you can ask him, just like your teacher. O.K.? I also pointed out the pediatric dental assistants to which Mason asked, Do you think the girl in green will clean my teeth? I read him the many testimonials from patients. Yes, the children. Things like: ...they give you a puppet to hold and let you watch your favorite t.v. show! Dude I don't get to watch my favorite t.v. show at my dentist. That is sooooo cool! And off to bed he went with a promise to bring whatever car he wanted, to hold instead of the puppet.

I woke up today having high hopes. Later in the afternoon, I left to pick up Mason from school. Getting my running hug, as always, I asked if he was ready for the dentist. Unfortunately we hadn't grabbed a car before we left and he pleaded to stop at home to get one. Being located just up the road from our neighborhood, always a plus when appointments are close to home, I didn't see a problem. Car now in hand and Mason in high spirits, we were off to the dentist.

We were greeted by a waterfall and fish tank as soon we walked in and were surprised with a Thomas train table around the corner. So while I filled out the necessary paperwork, Mason played with the train table while Sophie watched from the stroller. Once done, Mason got to choose a movie from a long list, he chose Aladdin, and holding on to my hand for comfort we headed to the back.

Holding tight to my hand, I placed Mason into the chair and the dental assistant promptly put on the movie. She was so great with Mason. Showing him the toothbrush she was going to use, how it worked and letting him touch it. Helping him put on sunglasses to shield his eyes from the light she needed to use to see in his mouth. I'm Dana by the way. I don't think I told you that. She worked as I stood in the background. The only issue Mason had was with the flavor we chose for him, raspberry. I don't like that, he said. The feeling? Does it tickle? Or the flavor? The flavor. Second time around he chose orange and liked it much better. I want orange every time o.k. mommy? Duly noted buddy.

He sat there so still, listening to her and following her directions when asked to open wider or chomp on the saliva ejector (yeah, I had to look that one up). I was so very proud of him. Do you mind if I take pictures? Camera at the ready. Go ahead. SWEET! Click. Click. Click. Enter Dr. Mike. He sat down, asked if there were any concerns on our end and started counting Mason's teeth. I turned my attention to Sophie, who was modeling excellent behavior herself. One of the nurses had given her a plush dolphin and she was showing it off, all smiles. So he is missing a tooth on the bottom. My attention shot back to the doctor. What? From what I was told this is not uncommon. Turns out instead of the normal four he only has three, missing an incisor. Sometimes the baby tooth just doesn't erupt. Nothing to do at this point but later on an x-ray will be necessary to see if an adult tooth is there or not.

Still trying to absorb the realization of my son missing a tooth (and the fact that I had no idea) I was hit with the news of a cavity. Crap. Really? No I didn't say that out loud but it's what I thought. And felt. The stain in between his two front teeth on the top, yup it's a cavity. And now I feel like such a failure as mother. While I have not taken very good care of my own teeth I really wanted to do better for my children. Still it is what it is, and I have to just accept it and move on. So I was told that we need to use a fluoride toothpaste and place a dab on the front and back on his teeth before bedtime. They said we could choose to separate the teeth to loosen the space between them to help. Not sure if I am comfortable with that. I'm not sure what it all entails, maybe sedation or numbing with a needle. Both of which would not go over well with Mason and cause him to fear the dentist in the future. So I guess we'll try the fluoride and see in six months how that goes. There was no mention of a filling or anything, so I guess it's not that bad but still it is a cavity. It was mentioned to stay away from foods with carbohydrates like goldfish and I seriously looked at the doctor like he was insane. He wants me to keep carbohydrates away from a three year old? Or he said to make sure to brush after he eats those foods. Realistically, I'm not thinking about brushing his teeth that many times a day and quite honestly he isn't in my presence for a whole three hours where he gets snacks. So honestly I don't see that happening too much.

I'm sure I'll be thought of as a horrible mother now because I don't brush my child's teeth more than just at bedtime but seriously I'm doing the best I can with strong personalities. I barely have enough time to get my son out of bed, fight with him to eat breakfast and then get dressed before heading out the door for carpool. And be on time. So to add tooth brushing on top of it is like, OH MY GOD, adding fuel to the fire. My daughter, I try to brush her teeth with the gum brush thing but, HELLO, she BITES MY FINGER and bites it hard. So bad that I have cried, certain she drew blood. You can bet I think twice before sticking any finger back in that death trap. But still I find myself so distraught over their heath, and now especially their teeth.

I went into this dental visit feeling hopeful that Mason would once again impress me with his coping skills, which in true fashion he did, but I left feeling depressed and concerned and a complete failure as a mother over a simple cavity and non-existent tooth.



just a note: my husband so proudly came up with the title and I just had to give him credit. (Bet you didn't think you'd see me write that did you, babe?)
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