Can you see the cameras flashing? The banner behind me that says ‘PARENT #FAIL OF THE YEAR’? It is I – destroyer of dentine and decayer of enamel. Welcome to my land of despair.
I took the Smalls to the dentist for a check-up. Basically Small Z went back in the seat, opened her mouth, a light was shone in and I shrieked,
“What the hell is THAT?!”
The polite and ever-smiling dentist informed me it was a tooth with quite a bit of decay – and could he x-ray her please, to check another suspect area?
I wrestled briefly with myself over radiation issues versus a child with a mouth full of blackened stumps, and acquiesced. Leaving Small Z trapped like a bug under a lead apron, we all stepped into the corridor for a moment. Zap. The other suspect area was NOT a hole (small mercies – I was looking for all kinds of small mercies) but, the first one was a PROBLEM. It was a baby tooth (YAY!) but it was one that doesn’t come out until around the age of ten or so…
Smiling Dentist broke it down for me. She could have the tooth filled and would probably require a crown – a stainless steel crown (WTF? Where did the precious metal thing go? What happened to gold? The stockmarket price on it is low, but obviously not low enough…)…OR…the tooth could be extracted, which would mean an appointment with an orthodontist after the fact as she might need a ‘spacer’ inserted to keep the gap open for the adult tooth. I blanched, as Small Z looked from me – the protector (and yet decayer) of her teeth – to Smiling Dentist, Tooth Hero and Owner of the Moving Chair and Big Light.
/…tangent: I have dentophobia. This dates to the age of ten, when it was decided that I needed braces. I had one of those fang upper incisors that had savaged its way through my gum – which looked awesome when I curled my lip like Billy Idol – who was just about to enter the charts. However, it was not considered a good look for the future. Thus, four teeth had to be pulled out to make room for fang-taming and brace application. They did it in two sittings. My memory is full of the dentist wrestling perfectly good teeth out of my mouth – and they didn’t want to leave. There were cracking noises, lots of jerking movements and at one point it seemed that he was almost kneeling on me to get maximum traction. Cue: blood, trauma and extensive cotton wadding. Even then I boggled at what had been done to me in the name of a straight smile. No kid of mine…etc. etc. /tangent
The Smiling Dentist began to look rather strained, because my eyes had rolled back in my head at the word ‘extracted’.
“Ahhh…which is the least traumatic option?”
“Well, she’ll be in the chair for much longer if we go for the filling and crown. The extraction [I steadied myself] would be pretty quick. I would say we should extract it.”
“Um.” I did actually shudder. “Can you look at Small DB while I just think about it a bit?”
I didn’t really get time to think about it, because they flipped Small DB back on the chair… No holes, but serious issues – the enamel on her back teeth is shot. Enamel hypoplasia.
“Enamel hypoplasia is typically caused by malnutrition, illness, infection or fever during tooth formation.”
Crap. Small Z also has some of this. The Smiling Dentist asked if they had had antibiotics a lot as babies. Neither of them has had antibiotics. I asked whether he had heard about the correlation between coeliac disease and problems with dental enamel. He hadn’t. We made an appointment for an extraction for next month, and left.
In previous reading I was sure I had seen links between coeliac disease and dental problems. I came home and found this. The other reason for my new title ‘Decayer of Children’? We have never used (grab on to your chair) we have never used toothpaste with fluoride in it. Why? Three reasons:
1) I didn’t want them swallowing fluoride toothpaste when they were tiny
2) There is a whole lot of gross stuff in normal toothpaste that I think everyone would be better avoiding – stuff like triclosan and SLS
3) I figured they would get a reasonable amount of fluoride from our drinking water
I don’t believe that the State of Decay was caused completely by the lack of fluoride toothpaste. In Small Z’s case I feel like I can definitely attribute some of the issue to coeliac disease. Small DB? I’m not sure – she hasn’t been tested for coeliac disease, but she did have a few instances where she had prolonged periods of fever when she was two or younger. Her teeth are on the edge of being a bit disastrous.
The Smalls are almost a junk-food free zone. They have a lollipop now and again. They have cake occasionally. They do eat quite a bit of fruit (yes, that is also sugar). But OMG, compared to many other kids I am acquainted with – they are DEPRIVED when it comes to sweets. I don’t allow juice (more sugar) – so they get milk, water or smoothies.
Nevertheless, I am now wishing that I had let them brush their teeth with chemical sodden, advertisement laden low-fluoride toothpaste – because if I had? Their teeth would either be better than they are, or not – but it wouldn’t be so directly my fault.
In the afternoon after the dentist appointment, Small Z complained that the tooth was hurting when she ate. There was no way she was going to last a month until the next appointment. I secured a cancellation at the same place, the following day. Smiling Dentist was not available, so she was to see someone else. I told M to turn up and say she had a toothache, and to get a second opinion. I handed the entire situation over to him, as I was a mess and incapable of rational thought.
THANK GOD!! While I sweated at work wondering what was being done to Small Z, M talked to the very savvy female dentist. He pinned her down and said,
“If this was your kid? What would YOU do?”
There was some prevaricating, but she eventually said that Small Z should have a filling and then the stainless steel crown. If it didn’t work, we’d be back where we started – then extraction might be an option. So that’s what they did. Savvy Dentist said that Small Z was the best kid patient she had ever had – very calm, and lots of questions. Small Z reported that the needle to numb her tooth hurt quite a lot, far worse than a blood test – but she had coped.
Little Metal Mouth is fine. I am recovering. We have low-fluoride toothpaste full of foaming agents, new toothbrushes, lashings of dental floss – we are brushing twice day (previously it was just at night) and I am trying to cover the coeliac angle by supplementing the Smalls with liquid Vitamin D – which in moderation can’t hurt, and will hopefully help. Coeliac disease stops you absorbing vitamins and minerals – which is why it leads to bone density issues – teeth are bones. And you can’t absorb calcium to make strong bones, UNLESS you have Vitamin D.
The End. I hope so.
And yes, I will post a picture of Metal Mouth when I can…