In case you were wondering — or even if you’re not — here’s an update on our family’s dental care: We’ve already spent about $1500 this year on dental care for myself, my wife and my oldest son.
That’s a lot of money that could’ve gone to other more enjoyable purchases. Instead, those hundreds of dollars filled cavities, got antibiotics put on my gums and allowed me to undergo what my dentist lovingly called a “deep cleaning.” It was so deep, in fact, that they had to numb my face each time they did it.
I suffer from gum disease. I have dealt with it for years and because of it I’ve become the self-proclaimed “Cal Ripken of flossing.” I have not missed a night of flossing for about 15 years. Is there a Hall of Fame of Flossing? Surely I’m a first ballot entry.
The trouble is that when I was a kid I remember my parents allowing me to brush my teeth hard. Very hard. So hard that I think i did lasting damage to my gums as my overbrushing lasted well into my 20’s. While I deal with this, I watch my oldest have a similar tendency toward the “If I brush harder, I’ll be done quicker” mantra. He, like his old man, wants to get brushing over with so he loads up his toothpaste and sets to work like a worker employing a jackhammer, treating his teeth and gums like a piece of bedrock that needs to be bored into. He takes it as a challenge.
But all that brushing doesn’t seem to be doing much good. Earlier this year, his dentist informed my wife and I that he had 6 cavities. Hey, that’s one for each year he’s been alive!
As a result, I’ve been preaching this mantra to him: “Brush gently and thoroughly.” My dentist recently reminded me to feel as if I’m barely touching my teeth with my toothbrush. Sounds sort of Zen to me, but I hope it works for my son and me.
I did a digging and discovered that the good folks at Oral B recommend starting flossing “once a child’s teeth start to fit closely together, usually between the ages of two and six.” Flossing a 2-year-old’s teeth sounds about as much fun as a root canal, which I’ve endured as well. But I suppose that you can never start too soon.
Just getting my kids to brush their teeth is a challenge and we’ve started using a timer to make sure that they brush for two minutes. Or let me rephrase — that they keep a toothbrush in their mouth for 2 minutes. I cannot attest to the quality of their “brushing” so we wind up doing it for them most nights.
The bottom line for me is this — all this dental work is seriously affecting my bottom line. I want to use their dollars for something more pleasurable. Like a colonoscopy.