Dental Cares and Caries—by Jamie Levine

Good teeth are very important to me; I’d never date a guy who didn’t have a nice smile, and I’ve been blessed, myself, with a strong, healthy set of choppers. My dorky dentist effusively compliments me on my teeth and makes me feel like a supermodel when I come in for my bi-annual check-up. And while I admit to having a vice for sugar, I do try to keep most of my diet pretty healthy—as well as my daughter’s.

Jayda, like most kids her age, is a dessert-queen. She begs for ice cream before dinner, bases her excitement for birthday parties on the kind of cake that will be served, and cries for chocolate after a challenging day. And she does get her share of treats—but in moderation. I never serve her regular soda or juice, buy her single-serving packets of cookies, and take her out for low-fat frozen yogurt when she asks to go to the “ice cream store.” I’ve also been brushing her teeth carefully ever since she had any—as well as flossing them regularly for over the past year or so—and have been giving her a fluoride-treated vitamin for ages. Jayda visited the dentist for the first time when she turned two, and since then, has returned every six months for a check-up. So how is it that now—when she’s not even four-years-old—I’ve been informed that she has four cavities—and possibly more? It’s horrifying.

Several months ago, after our health insurance changed, I left my beloved pediatric dentist and took Jayda to a dental clinic, where our life-altering cavity-discovery was made. The dentist told me she clearly saw four cavities, but that x-rays would give her a better idea of how deep they were, and if there were any others emerging. The wait for another appointment was several months, and we returned recently to take Jayda’s x-rays and to potentially start filling the cavities. Things didn’t go well.

Jayda was a trooper—but she was uncomfortable with the way she had to fit the bite-wings in her mouth, and the dentist didn’t get the x-ray films she needed. They decided to proceed anyway and fill two minor cavities by giving Jayda nitrous oxide, which they told Jayda would smell like ice cream. After allowing her pick out the flavor (chocolate), they laid my child down on a table, and, as she held my hand—with tubes stuck in her nose—I tried to stay calm. So did she. Until the dentist started drilling. Despite the fact that the dentist had described all of her instruments to Jayda in kid-friendly terms, and had promised that nothing would hurt, the noise of the drill and its strong vibrations scared Jayda—and she started crying and screaming hysterically. Fortunately, the dentist stopped; she said she didn’t want Jayda to associate bad feelings with the dentist—which was exactly what I had been fearful of. So we set up yet another appointment to have all of Jayda’s cavities filled while she is under a sedative. It’s a seemingly reasonable solution—but it still worries me sick. And what worries me more is how on earth my daughter got all of these cavities…and how to make sure this problem doesn’t continue when her adult teeth come in.

I’ve tried to stop allowing Jayda to have lollypops, fruit snacks, and other overtly sweet/sugary treats, but it’s not easy. She doesn’t understand that I’m trying to protect her teeth…she only hears the fact that I’m denying her something she loves—and sometimes, something one of her friends or classmates is enjoying right next to her. And I’ve continued my brushing/flossing vigilance. But that’s probably not enough. Some kids never go to the dentist, eat candy like it’s going out of style, and suck sugary soda through straws all day long—and never get cavities. But my kid isn’t as lucky. And it’s awful…and even a little bit embarrassing for me. I’d like to blame it on genetics (and maybe I can, since I never did learn specifics about my sperm donor’s teeth), but that won’t make the problem go away. I just wish there was something—other than painful dentist visits—that would.

  1. 17 Responses to “Dental Cares and Caries—by Jamie Levine”

  2. The problem IS most likely genetics. My son has incredible teeth…which amazes me because he thinks touching his toothbrush to his 2 front teeth constitutes "brushing his teeth." I asked our dentist what was most important about having healthy teeth. His response was #1: Genetics; #2: Diet and #3: Dental Hygiene. The only conclusion to my son's great teeth are my great teeth. I have never had a cavity in my life (and never expect to) and never needed braces. If my son has my dental genes, it will be one huge headache less to worry about. So far…so good.

    By Cara Meyers on Mar 29, 2011

  3. Jamie—Nora just finished having 3 cavities filled, the last one included a "baby route canal" discovered necessary as the Dr. started drilling. All were filled with the aid of strawberry laughing gas which made Nora fly…she didn't mind a bit going back for each visit. It was hardest on me that first visit….I can't believe she sat through it with no problems. Miss Olivia? Never had a cavity yet, which is why I found it so shocking at 3 1/2 to have so many! Hope things go well for Jayda! Email me to chat further if you like.

    By coffeegirl on Apr 11, 2011

  4. Thanks, this post is really interesting. I'm wondering may be you can also post topics like Teeth Whitening.

    By Pamela Falle on Apr 12, 2011

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    By arronbond on Oct 19, 2011

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    By Brake on Nov 17, 2011

  8. A great idea to have great teeth is to teach your children oral hygiene and make sure to make it a habit for them. For mom's like you its also a good idea to limit sugary foods in the fridge to lessen the sugar intake of your children.

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    By andreafox21 on Nov 18, 2011

  9. No matter how hard it may be to keep anything from your children, you should still limit the dessert they get because you don't want early dental problems.

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    By Amarant on Nov 24, 2011

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  11. It's not just genetics Cara but also proper hygiene and diet is what makes incredible teeth.

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  12. It's good that you are aware of the importance of tooth care. Many parents overlook this in their parenting programs.

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  13. The teeth can really show how clean a person is. It really matters for many individuals for sure. It is important for us to take good care of our teeth and make it whiter and cleaner all the time. We always talk, thus we need to make our breath smells good and fresh.
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  14. You are so lucky to have awesome teeth. I used to always go to the dentist to get my teeth aligned and fixed.

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  15. It is good to know that you take care of your teeth and your daughter's teeth very well. This will benefit you in the long run. Plus your dentist will always be happy every time you visit.

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    By Margie on Jan 26, 2012

  16. I agree with the comments. It is always a must for every individual to take good care of his or her teeth. This will make us more confident. The better the appearance of the teeth, the more proud we are to smile in front of many people. It's also a must to visit our dentist twice a year.

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