Since then, we've been pretty good about caring for her teeth. Or so we thought. Thoroughly brushing before bedtime (almost every night, and always if she had sugar or juice that day), never nursing her to sleep or giving her anything to drink in her crib, and not giving her hard candy or other obvious culprits for teeth damage.
Not good enough.
I know if my college-roommate dentist friend is reading this... palm. forehead.
I just took Penny to the dentist for her 18-month preventative care exam. Eye opening.
A mom with morning sickness (Dan didn't come this time), and a toddler who has just entered into the shy-around-strangers phase, made this second visit less fun from the start.
We watched the last three minutes of the USA/Canada men's hockey game in the waiting area, which was a real bummer (and also the only Olympic coverage I actually watched this year) then walked back into the exam room where Penny immediately panicked and clung to me like Apollo's hair on black pants. Maybe she knew what was coming.
The plaque on her teeth was awful. I was so embarrassed. It was way up at the top of her teeth by her gums in a place you can't see unless you manually lift her upper lip up toward her nose. It was orange. It was slimy. It was tooth-brush proof. Dr. Culp had to use a metal scraper tool to get it off for me. Penny cried. Maybe the most sobering experience of my motherhood so far.
I had no idea so much gunk was growing on her little teeth, I thought I was adequately checking the box for toddler oral hygiene.
Later I googled 'early childhood tooth decay' photographs, that's enough to get any parent to wake up and smell the fluoride.
|Caries = Cavities. image source|
So, moving forward... twice a day, at least. Brushing thoroughly is a two-man-job, one to hold down her hands and distract her, and the other to hold her head and brush each tooth thoroughly, lifting her lips to really get to the base of each tooth. She hates it in the moment, but she gets over it very quickly, and amazingly she looks forward to the next time we get to brush.
Also, I'm buying her an electric toothbrush, which are much more efficient for bristle revolutions in a short amount of time. Dr. Culp even suggested that we might want to get a tool like the one he used on her, in case any any of that aggressive plaque starts to show up again before her next visit this summer.
Oy vey. If you are reading this and have a kid younger than mine, please, do better than us in this area.