The airlines are ecstatic that my mother’s house is nearly sold and we’re back in the air again. After years of being very careful to avoid overexposure to radiation from dental x-rays we have now spent enough time at high altitude that we give off a slight glow in the dark. Helpful at my age since there are frequent trips to the bathroom at night. It’s also easier to find Susan in the night which I think has improved her life significantly. In mid June we flew to Florida for Jameson’s first birthday party. In late June we were in North Carolina with Susan’s extended family for our annual beach vacation and we now find ourselves in Reno, in the summer, where it’s 105 degrees in the shade! Take note that these excursions are all taking place during the only few weeks a year that the weather is idyllic in Ithaca. Hi Ho!
During this month of travel I have been in close contact with the next generation and their offspring, and the questions that frequently arise involve the timing of a child’s first dental visit and how to brush their teeth. I am retired now so finally have the liberty of being honest. I deal first with proper care of the deciduous teeth. Without exception they report that it’s nearly impossible to be effective with a tooth brush due to wiggling, screaming, arching of the back, hysterics, etc. ( Yet someday they will become puzzled if a filling on an upper second deciduos molar doesn’t stay in). I assure them that they can simply wipe the child’s teeth with a wash cloth until he/she is old enough to accept a tooth brush…. or…..pour a tumbler of bourbon, dip the tooth brush in the bourbon for the child and then chug the bourbon, thus rendering whole bedtime ordeal less troublesome. They report that they have tried the wash cloth trick and that it is also impossible (which I knew!). At this point I emphasize that it’s critical to do whatever it takes to get those toddler teeth clean (lots of guilt applied here). These are the shiny white pearls that will introduce their child to the world and without the parents’ uncompromising effort they will become little black stubs which will render their most precious gift to the world a social outcast at an early age causing permanent damage to their self image and ability to interact socially….forever. My work now well on it’s way, I sit back and savor a measure of my own bourbon.
Next we address the issue of bottle feeding. I quickly dispelled any notion they had of simply putting the infant down with a bottle of juice or heaven forbid milk and explain that milk (lactose) is just another word for SUGAR! Boy this is fun. Then I make several more references to little black stubbs. I also recommend that if they’re still breast feeding they should dedicate one breast for just water, for the night time feedings. New mothers are so much fun to toy with! My work nearly done here, I can focus on the next question.
It seems that there is some pediatric guru out there – obviously not a dentist – recommending that they take their child into the dentist as soon as they begin to get teeth. If any dentist is half honest with him/herself they will tell you that they don’t want to see anyone in their chair under the age of fifteen. It was about this point in the conversation when my daughter asked if I had actually ever treated any children? Yes my dear, I HAVE! However, as little as possible once Rich and then Betsy joined the practice. Subsequent to that, if I saw a child under the age of six enter the front door I moved quickly toward the back door, and even faster if a pregnant patient arrived. Perhaps more on that kind of crazy later unless I’m the only husband who ever had to rearrange the furniture after midnight on successive nights during that “nesting ” period.
If you encounter a dentist that says he or she likes to treat children, loosely translated it means -I don’t care about the dentistry! It’s virtually impossible to do really nice dentistry on children due to the wiggling, screaming, arching of the back, hysterics, etc. So to all you parents out there, if you want to find a good dentist, find one who doesn’t like to treat children! Also, if they like children they probably don’t want to do dentistry on them!
Whenever a patient would relate their sad stories about the terrible dental experience they had a child I could only think…………”Damn good dentist!”
It’s nice to have that off my chest after all these years. We’re babysitting our one year old grandson tonight, it’s bedtime so I guess I’ll go clean his little white teeth with a washcloth…… and a whole lot of bourbon!!!
Until next time,
Happy on the Grump stump. ——–Oh, one more note to you young parents. Wrap your cell phone in a washcloth. No one year old can resist sticking an i-phone in his mouth and chewing on it!!