U: The Unknown (and feared, in this case)
The most interesting thing in life going on right now is a trip to the dentist. Truly reflective of the season of January in a northern climate. The chilly temps coupled with the renewal that the new year brings finds me with calendar on laptop, scheduling all sorts of appointments — even for stuff I don’t need. Just scheduling, that’s my main agenda.
Looking back at 2010, the kids’ dental hygiene was not stellar. I don’t want to undermine their efforts – they were brushing twice a day, I swear! The first visit of 2010 to our children’s dentist occurred in April. April was warm, sunny and full of optimism. Calvin, my 5-yr-old, walked into the dentist like he owned the place. Confident in his smile. Ava, my 7-old-yr, had a small cavity at age 5 – – the needle of novocaine a distant memory for her. She had no expectations that the dentist would be any less than praiseworthy after a quick check.
It had been eight months since we’d been in. The dentist’s office boasts an open floorplan, meant to be fun, full of light and welcoming for children and accommodating for parents who need to sit nearby and witness the whole appointment go down. Which I have done for four years now. At the same time they filled Ava’s cavity in ’06, they also did a capping of all the teeth – – a preventive measure. She has always sailed through with flying colors, toys and stickers. Calvin, in 2010, was a different story. In our April appointment, he was held up in x-rays and the review of them with Dr. Sally was even more discerning.
As the x-rays told some startling truths, I watched a very uncomfortable Dr. Sally break the cavity count to me in a slow, painful way. At first, “There are four cavities here.” …a pause, more assessment of x-rays on the light box, “and there are a few smaller ones on each side.” Me incredulously, “What – he has six cavities?” The butterflies floating from the ceiling turn unfriendly. “Yes, well… there are a few here and a few here…” pointing to the lightbox. This goes on a while, the pointing, when I just have to know “How many?” … dejected and possibly worried that I might lose it she confirms, “Eight.” Silence.
I look at my innocent little boy with his mouthful of brushing or over-indulgent sweet teeth gone wrong and immediately believe I have failed as a mother in this way. The kid is going to need four consecutive trips to the dentist to fix this mess – two will be dealt with on each trip. Three teeth are actually going to get silver caps. How terribly sad. He’ll be looking at those til age 12 (the 12-yr molars). Oblivious to his four-appointment sentence, he picks out some toys, slaps on a sticker and we’re on our way.
I will spare details of the four trips only to say that by trip number four, they have no other kids in the appointment room – six empty chairs. He tried to be so brave, bottom lip quivering, but there is no trust left at the end. Calvin is a questioner. He now demands of Dr. Sally, “how can you live with yourself… telling kids lies?” He wants to know how she ended up being the type of person she is. She handled it well – the hygienists were also pretty amazing (they are in general, I can say because my mother-in-law is one). The four-appointment series ended in July and I forced myself to schedule an appointment for future at that moment.
We cry a lot, prep for the return visit four months later, only to find out we need to reschedule (see alternatives for a missed dentist appointment here). Finally, we make it back. I don’t plan to entice proper behavior with rewards, but after they behave really well I can’t help but warrant a stop at Patrick’s Bakery. They tout their toy (an orange slinky) and stickers “No Cavities Allowed” (a red circle and line strike out over bad foods) and “Great Picture Taken” (with a happy tooth and x-ray) while I continue on the NO cavities proclamation high. We indulge in a savory breakfast and get a sweet treat from the deli to go, pending careful teeth-brushing post-treat later that eve.
I can’t bring myself to Google “poor enamel” or try to find out if genes play a part in this twisted fate – one child is going to have good teeth (taking after her father) and the other problem teeth (taking after me). I’m sure of it. Maybe we could even cut back on sweet treats… naw.
We started doing more after the fateful series of appointments – ACT for rinse, more flossing (although not nearly enough) and parent-supervised brushing (which I relearned is critical until at least age five). I hope the dental gods will smile upon us at our next semi-annual. At least until braces come along.
Note: Officer Flossy is the “toothfairy” in these parts, a derivation from the Officer Flossy character of the beloved Richard Scarry books with Dingo the Dog at the root of all trouble.