Toddler teeth are trouble. The trouble is really that they are attached to toddlers.
First, they cause all kinds of pain and crying when they come in. Then, they have to be brushed twice a day every day for years on end. And to top it off they need to be checked out by a dentist every six months. I have a hard enough time making sure I brush my own teeth before I literally pass out from sheer exhaustion some days and finding a day to myself to go to the dentist, well, yea, let’s just say I’m behind.
With my oldest son, who is now nine, I did everything right. I helped him brush his teeth twice a day from the time he had any. I started with the little blue rubber finger brush when he was just four months old. Then moved on to the big kid toothbrush and toddler toothpaste and finally on to the real deal. He never gave me any trouble about it.
Despite all the brushing and withholding of sugar, my oldest ended up with cavities and a tooth root abscess by the time he was three and a half anyway! Poor baby. One of his molars actually had to be pulled!
The dentist wanted to “sedate” him. Because I have a medical background (which makes the worst patient), I asked what drugs they would use to sedate him and they informed me they would use ketamine and propofol. These are anesthetic drugs we use regularly in animals and are not sedatives at all. They are a full-blown anesthetic drug. Short-acting yes but, anesthesia just the same. He was a very good kid so I asked them to at least try and just use laughing gas and numb the area. It worked. They were able to do the fillings and pull the tooth with the laughing gas and the Novocain. This just goes to show you that we need to be advocates for our children and not always just go with what the doctor says right off. Ask questions so that you really understand what the plan is and do your own research.
Unfortunately, my now three-year-old is a completely different story. He will literally fall apart if I try to help him. I try to hold him down and he just fights me. He is surprisingly strong and I think I end up with more toothpaste in my mouth than his. Luckily, at his dentist visit, he was part of the no cavity club! Thank GOD because this one will need all the drugs AND a team of people to hold him down if he ever has to have a tooth pulled.
This struggle has left my two-year-old neglected for fear of having to struggle with both of them after I am way too tired to handle that kind of stress. He has teeth and they need to be brushed but, basically, he is on his own. Some days we remember. Some days we don’t. Today, as I am writing this I realized that none of them brushed.
At what age do they reliably brush their own teeth? Oh well, they are going to fall out anyway, right?
As a veterinarian, I am always telling people that if they could brush their dog or cat’s teeth even just once a week that it would do wonders at preventing major problems or at least stave it off longer. I don’t think the same applies to toddlers?
I seriously need to up my dental care game! Feel free to share your tricks in the comments below this article.
Please…really…I need help!