Keepin' it real: My kids have dirty mouths

It’s that time of year again. Rest assured, I’m not talking about the holidays right now. You don’t need me to tell you that they’re here. Hobby Lobby did that back in August when they put out their Christmas decorations. No, I’m talking about the biannual reminder that I fail miserably at some aspects of parenting. We visited the dentist office this week.

Hooray.

I’m not a big fan of the dentist. I take my children more often than I even make myself go in. I blame my childhood. As a kid, I was such a fan of candy, sugary snacks, pop and juice that even though my poor mother took me to regular cleanings, I almost always had at least one cavity. This has continued into my adulthood. So to me, one trip to the dentist means at least two visits that week and there will be pain, followed by a numb face that will prevent me from eating for eight or so hours. Therefore, I’m not fond of sitting in that banana shaped chair.

So I have made taking my kids regularly, a priority. I want them to see it as a routine that is somewhat enjoyable and not scary. I even made sure to take them to a fun, pediatric dentist in town that has TVs, sugar-free treats, butterflies and toys throughout the office. My girls love it. The fact that they think the dentist is an outing on the same level as a visit to the library is huge to me.

However, it’s still not fun for me even when I’m not the one being drilled on. While the ladies in the office are fantastic, I end up leaving feeling like I’ve already failed my children’s dental hygiene. (To be fair, I’m not doing a spectacular job.) They start every appointment asking how often we brush their teeth.

“They brush them mostly alone, once a day-ish.”

Time of day? “In the morning.”

Strike one and strike two right off the bat. This hygienist reminds me that I should be assisting them every time and that they should brush morning and night. Even if I can’t get two sessions in, night time brushing is crucial. Well, super.

Then she asked what they drink at home. “Milk, juice and sometimes water.”

She says I’m supposed to be limiting non-water drinks to meal times and brushing teeth after drinking anything sugary. Super duper. We’ve not been doing that. At all.

Strike three. I’m out, right? She continued on by asking what they snack on. Oooo! Oooo! I’m gonna win this question, I know it! They told me at HJ’s first appointment to skip fruit snacks, fruit rolls, and dried fruit. DONE. “They eat grapes, cheese sticks and crackers, mostly.” EHHHHH. Wrong answer. Apparently, crackers have a tendency to collect in teeth crevices and will need to be brushed out when they’re finished eating.

Good God. I can’t win. I CANNOT follow these crazy children around with a toothbrush all day. Do you know how many snacks they consume in a day?!

Next up to discuss was flossing. I just laughed. I’m lucky to remember to floss my own teeth. I could count the number of times I’ve flossed my three-year-old’s on one finger. It’s a battle to get my kids to let me help them brush their teeth and to keep them from swallowing their toothpaste. Flossing?! Yeah, right.

I’m sorry if you’re a teeth person. And I’m sorry if this whole post grosses you out. I’m a terrible maintainer of my children’s mouths. Unless I’m feeding them, catching their vomit or checking for a tooth to determine if they’re teething, I just have no more energy to care about what’s going on in there. My days are spent making sure they’re eating right(ish), learning shapes and numbers and keeping them from killing themselves by diving off their toy box. Their baby teeth that will fall out in a few years, aren’t at the top of my priority list.

But like I say after EVERY visit, I’m going to be better. We’re going to brush every night. We’re going to attempt to remember to floss. And I will continue to eat their fruit snacks for them.

(It’s totally to protect their teeth, I swear.)

B's first dentist visit

B's first dentist visit by Megan Spreer

Tagged: dental health, parenting

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