Guilt and dental hygiene

In most aspects of my life, I feel like a reasonably adept human being. But when it comes to dentists and dental hygiene, well, I don’t think I’ve ever emerged from a dentists office without feeling like a complete failure. I figured that this was limited to me, and that my sons would escape the scourge of dental-insufficiency. (Well, when I thought about it at all.)

Then we took Grey to the dentist, about a year ago. They were “concerned”. And a few months back, it went from “let’s keep an eye on that” to “he needs fillings – 8 of them”.

The kid only has like 20 teeth, and 8 of them have cavities? Given that his teeth are my responsibility, I once again feel like a failure. I’m pretty sure it’s from the milk he took to bed with him for the year between 1 and 2. We’ve been brushing his teeth since he turned 2, but the damage must’ve been done by then.

He got his first filling today. He did great. He also got his X-rays and did fine. He got a Bakugon as a reward. (What? You don’t know about Bakugan? They’re cool. They’re little balls — perfect choking hazards — that you throw on the ground and then they explode into robots. They’re “collectible”.)

The point of this isn’t really cavities and my bad parenting. It’s Thane. Having a second child, you find you remember much less about each stage than you think you might. It feels like you’re doing it for the first time all over again, with momentary flashback now and again to illumine a particular issue. I had forgotten how hard it was to get Grey to bed at the same time. We had elaborate rituals that included ALWAYS something to drink, music on the cd player, the mobile on, sneaking out, etc. They didn’t usually work. Even in the middle of the night it was hard to get him back to sleep.

Thane though? Thane goes to sleep easily. I change his diaper. I read him two stories. I sing to him. I pray for him. I put him in his crib and turn on the mobile because it seems like the thing to do. I close the door. I do not hear from him until I feed him right before bed. He pretty much ALWAYS goes right to sleep. I think I’ve gotten back out of bed once? Twice? in the middle of the night after he failed to go back to sleep.

Children are so different.

Even if they don’t look different.

Which kid is this?
Which kid is this?

The same or different?
The same or different?

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

2 thoughts on “Guilt and dental hygiene”

  1. They do look alike, don’t they? I am sorry, but I think Grey went to bed really easily at this age too. I remember being amazed by it. We will see!


  2. Please try not to beat yourself up over the cavities too much. For you or your kids. It’s not bad hygiene, it’s genetics. Some people are cavitiy prone (weak enamel) and some people aren’t. I know because I am one of the cavity prone, and as an obsessive person my lack of control over my cavities eats away at me (pun intended.) I was a cavity-prone kid, and I’m a cavity-prone adult. I do everything I can to keep my teeth in shape, from brushing at least twice a day to using floss and fluoridated mouth wash on a daily basis. But every time I go to the dentist, I have cavities. My husband on the other hand does none of these things – brushes only when he remembers or I remind him – and he never gets cavities. Those annoying people you meet that have never had a cavity in their life? That’s not because they’re so much better at brushing than us, it’s just luck of the genetic draw.

    Luckily there are more things you can do these days than were available back in our day, like having your kids teeth sealed when they get a bit older. That might help ease some of the pain. And my last visit to the dentist I had them restart fluoride treatments – the kind you get when you’re a kid – in hopes that it will help. I can’t tell you yet if it’s working, but they’re not that expensive if you want to try it for yourself next time.


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