Monday, February 4, 2013

Dental Shame

Today is the first (of many) appointments for Sofie to see her pediatric dentist to correct a problem that apparently has been going on for some time unbeknownst to me: her rotten teeth.

If you want to feel like a bad parent try taking your four year old to the dentist, only to find out that more than half of their teeth have melted away with decay. Apparently this is something I should have recognized ages ago, and how could I have waited so long to address this massive dilemma?

Wait. Back up. Hold the phone with your holy-hygienist guilt trip. Aren't these teeth supposed to fall out? Aren't these the set that kids are given so that when their parents don't notice the dark holes appearing in the nether regions of their mouths we can try again with a fresh set of bigger, stronger teeth? I am confused (while still feeling downright shameful that this has happened to MY child, I can't help it, mother guilt is the strongest emotion known to man).

Francisco was more horrified to hear about the $2000 price tag that accompanies Sofie's lengthy dental procedures (and yes, that's WITH the dental insurance) than he was to hear about the teeth themselves. He figures this is the practice run. "No one in MY country ever had these baby teeth fixed, and the people still seem to grow new teeth. We eat fine! What's the problem?" But this from the man who had two of his molars yanked out instead of filled when they bothered him. Not sure he's qualified to make this decision either.

She has to go this morning for fillings, caps, and laughing gas, and then five more times to address all of the many damaged teeth. I don't know if this is warranted, I am not a dentist, but merely a horrified parent who will believe pretty much anything these people tell me. At the same time I am torn between the medical lectures and "how could you"s and the pull of not wanting to put her through this and the strain of our already thin-stretched pockets.

There should be a manual for this kind of thing. How the hell is any parent supposed to know what to do? We brush regularly, don't sleep with bottles of apple juice, what more do you want from me? I am reminded of my mother being lectured by a well known asshole dentist in my town more than 25 years ago when my brother and I each had a mouthful of cavities. The dental shame is apparently passed on through the generations.

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