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toddler to the dentist

I've ruined my child's teeth. We have a dentist appointment Tuesday to find out just how bad the situation is, but at least one molar just looks like it's rotting out of her face and I swear the one on the other side looks a little weird too. I'm making this confessional entry to see if it helps with my guilt at all, because so far I'm pretty sure I'm the worst mother in the world.

Here is where I went wrong:

1) I was quite aware that wichita did not have flouride in city water, too many tin-foil-hat types have voted it down too many times. This is the first place I've lived that didn't have flouride in the water. I never had a cavity until I was 24, and living here. Seems like that should have been a sign.

2) We bought Josie whatever silly cartoon character "training toothpaste" she wanted, or all-natural hippie stuff, either way, no flouride. As soon as that child could understand how to spit I should have had her on the real stuff.

3) We let her brush her own teeth for like a year, sometimes I'd take a turn but I'll admit, we were lazy about it. I brush my own teeth twice a day and floss at least once, but in the busy-ness, I was not pressuring her enough to let me brush her teeth.

4) Our dentist said he doesn't see kids until they're three and a half, so I didn't put her on our dental insurance plan. Just kept it cheap.

5) When I did notice a mark or stain on her teeth, I didn't take it seriously. And if I did want to, what the hell, she wasn't insured anyway so I figured she could make it until 2014.

6) In the last few weeks, under close inspection, I've realized she can't. That's when I called the dentist and they agreed to take a peak for no charge, but told me that most parents overreact to stains, surely my child doesn't have a cavity.

7) She ate way too much sugar until we started really fighting it. When we noticed the first mark on her teeth, I started noticing how much sugar was in her diet... it was awful. So I had to get the WORLD on board, ask the gym not to have candy out at the front desk, ask her grandma not to give her suckers every time they meet up. Yes, you can get excited toddler hugs for ten cents... but the cost is soooo much more than you know!

The only good things I can say is that 1) at least I only ruined her baby teeth and 2) at least I only ruined my first child's teeth. I'm just worried sick now about what the dentist will say, because dental procedures are traumatic and sometimes require having kids this age knocked out, I've been exchanging stories with coworkers and a number of people told me they were caught offgaurd too, and it was a BIG deal. Shit. And we have no insurance for her for three more months, just medical, not dental.

so it's all just great, huh. I'm awful.

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
browngirl
Sep. 29th, 2013 09:19 pm (UTC)
Ouch. I send healing vibes to her and hugs to you.
aposteriori
Sep. 29th, 2013 10:18 pm (UTC)
Does she complain about pain?

We didn't have fluoride in our water supply either, and my teeth were always awful, but the dentist just knocked me out and pulled them out (they're just baby teeth after all, they'll grow back). And when I was older, he gave me the "happy gas" and pulled them... i never noticed when they got pulled, no pain.

Once I was in school, they gave us fluoride rinses once a day at school to make up for it not being in the water. And I also had fluoride pills prescribed from the dentist -- they tasted like candy, maybe you can ask your dentist about them. And when I got older, I just brushed my teeth properly and didn't have any problems until I went 5 years without a dental visit and cleaning (no insurance). When I finally went back, it wasn't pretty, but it was manageable.
chezmax
Sep. 30th, 2013 09:45 pm (UTC)
Oh my god, I remember doing flouride rinses in my school in the country. Damn they were awful. I can't remember how often they were? Monthly?
aposteriori
Oct. 1st, 2013 01:31 am (UTC)
Yup, they were AWFUL. I remember trying to lie on multiple occasions and claim that my mom said I didn't have to do it since I was taking the fluoride pills at home (which were chewable and tasty) but they wouldn't go for that without a note and I couldn't convince mom to actually write one. A few times I only pretended to put the stuff in my mouth and swish, but I got caught once and then they were more careful to check my little bag.

For ours, now that I think of it, I guess it wasn't daily. But that's what we did at the start of every gym class up until 5th grade. And I think gym was ... 3 times a week? twice?
astrogeek01
Sep. 29th, 2013 11:03 pm (UTC)
They have supplements for places without fluoride in the water, I don't remember the details because we do here. For littlest ones, you can get some stuff to rub on their teeth or something, I forget exactly what, since it's been so long.

I would look into a pediatric dentist if you can. Anyone who says they don't see kids until they're three and a half isn't who I'd take my kid to. They should be seen much earlier than that.

Not your fault, I'd blame your dentist for being so laissez-faire about seeing kids!
filmstar
Sep. 30th, 2013 12:43 am (UTC)
My sister in law is a dental hygienist and she says don't bother taking kids until they are three, unless there's a problem. They won't take x-rays until they are at least that old anyway, and the dentists who take kids earlier usually just do it to get them used to the experience and tell the parents what they should be doing rather than because there's anything to be done that early (usually).

I chose not to take the twins until they were three because I could not see how taking them at age one or two when they would not understand what was going on would help them, and it was more likely to freak them out. It was way better, in my opinion, to take them when they were three and talk them through the experience beforehand so they would understand what to expect. They have now been twice and they LOVE going to the dentist (does not hurt that he gives them lots of swag).

Here's what my SIL has advised that we have followed (and, thank goodness, no cavities yet):

No eating between meals, and that includes drinking milk. Water only. If someone gives my kids a treat, I put it in my purse and they can have it at the end of the next meal.

Brush morning and night. I let the kids do their own morning brush, and I do their evening brush. I know, ideally, I should be doing both of the brushes and there should be flossing, but whatever, I figure it's more than I got as a kid.

Fluoride! We have it in our water, but if we didn't, they would be getting a supplement. My SIL is a HUGE believer in fluoride.

Nothing at night after teeth are brushed except water. I never nursed them to sleep, so this wasn't an issue for us, but I know that's a ritual for a lot of familes (or a bottle of milk).

For what it's worth, we've only just started using fluoride toothpaste (they just turned four).

Good luck! It sucks if Josie does have something wrong, but you are right -- it's just her baby teeth, and you have another kid you can apply your learning experience to. :)

Edited at 2013-09-30 12:43 am (UTC)
smittenbyu
Sep. 30th, 2013 01:44 am (UTC)
egads.. you are the second mom in a month taking/taken her 3 year old to the dentist. We are waiting for our dental plan to kick in in November. And I am nervous. My friend who has been very strict about it all has a boy with cavities! So, makes me nervous!

Sometimes though it's just your genes! :S Myself haven't flossed for 36 years, get my teeth cleaned like once every 3 years, only started brushing twice a day since marriage and am cavity free. I decided though, I am not going to push my luck. I think the big thing is the snacking/juicing in between meals that is really rotting a lot of our teeth! My snacking dad has bad teeth and my disciplined mom doesn't! :S But that's what I constantly hear from previous generations and ours, the amount of snacking our kids do! I have been good with D on that, she has four meals a day! Nothing in between. And she rinses her mouth after every meal (at least when she is with us).

She saw dad's filled teeth and it seemed to really hit home to her! She brushes well, she does it the first few minutes and I take my turn at the end of the brushing session! I kind of want her to learn the method too!

I wonder if fluoride is stored? India is one of the 2-3 countries in the world where there's an oversupply in flouride that we have to buy fluoride-free toothpaste! We are still using fluoride free paste since she doesn't spit it all out! :S
aliki
Sep. 30th, 2013 02:09 am (UTC)
I agree with previous poster that if they say they don't take children until they are three, it's because they do not specialize in children. Look for a pediatric dentist instead.

In fact, I think according to the American Dental Association, they recommend that you bring your child at age 1. No joke.

As for Josie's teeth, it's her first set, so now that you are aware of her pitfalls, I think you'll be very good with her next set :)
meemo506
Sep. 30th, 2013 02:18 am (UTC)
That happened to my brother because my parents gave up fighting him about brushing. I think it happens to a lot of parents. Make sure they knock her out if they do work, just to be safe. I was given nitrous/local numbing shots for my wisdom teeth and found out the hard way that not everyone responds to them.

On the flip side of tooth health, I ate better and brushed better than my brother, but also grew up with no fluoride, and I've never had a cavity or gingivitis or anything. I skipped the dentist for 6 years because we didn't have insurance and I was fine. My grandma grew up with well-water and brushed with baking soda and salt and she has the best teeth I've ever seen. Perfect and straight and white and she still has all of them at 80.

So I guess...do your best but at the end of the day a lot of it is genetics.
tabloidscully
Sep. 30th, 2013 03:34 am (UTC)
In Sephie's first week of life, she had a legendary awful diaper. In my postpartum delirium, I had the bright idea to cut her onesie off, so I wouldn't smear fecal matter all over her face. At the final snip of the scissors, I got her thumb. She bled ALL OVER THE PLACE and I was convinced for days that CPS was going to show up and take her away from me.

They didn't. She still has a tiny, crescent-shaped scar. It will be there forever, most likely, even though most people will probably never see it, I will always know that it's there and that I'm directly responsible for putting it there. But parenthood is rather like Sephie's scar. We make mistakes, and some which happen to stay with our kids forever, but they are part of us and part of them and reminders of how to do better.

Give yourself a break. Like me, you just didn't know. You made the decisions that you thought were best with what you had available to you. And the damage to Josie's teeth, unlike Sephie's thumb, isn't permanent. You aren't an awful parent. <3

Edited at 2013-09-30 03:35 am (UTC)
aparecida
Sep. 30th, 2013 10:27 pm (UTC)
Clare is right; the recommendation is at age 1 now. I advise this for my patients. I also check my toddler patients' teeth at checkups starting as soon as they have teeth.
litlebanana
Oct. 1st, 2013 02:27 am (UTC)
If it makes you feel any better, Melanie had 4 cavities that needed to be filled at her very first dental appt at barely age 3. They did it while she was awake and she found the whole thing fun.
kbuggle
Oct. 2nd, 2013 04:36 am (UTC)
For Olive, age 1! Take a pediatric dentist trip, it helps to get them used to it, gives you advice about any early trends the dentist sees, and can prevent later problems.
kirstene
Oct. 7th, 2013 06:36 am (UTC)
I suggest you check out a copy of Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye by Ellie Phillips. From all I've encountered on our dental decay with a toddler adventure, I think xylitol sounds like a good fit for your family. It is very easy to get a child to take it because it is sweet.
ext_2124499
Oct. 16th, 2013 08:44 pm (UTC)
I think that I need to find a new dentist in Lethbridge because the one that I was going to isn't very good with kids. Do you know of any good ones?
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