My Parenting Fail: Alternately Titled Cottage Cheese Teeth

Saturday, November 3, 2012

This is second in a series of sponsored posts for The Motherhood's SweetSmart campaign.

So, let me tell you about one of my more recent parenting failures. It involves my son and his dental habits. I thought we had resolved our issues back when we bought him the Sonicare for Kids, but I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

About a month ago, he lost one of his last baby teeth. It was on the upper right side of his mouth. A few days later, we were talking and I noticed his breath was terrible.

"Holy cow, your mouth stinks! Did you brush your teeth today?"


"Well, go swish some mouthwash and brush extra tonight at bedtime."

The next day, it was the same thing. His breath was awful. Rather than swish I made him brush his teeth. Much protesting ensued and he insisted he had already brushed that morning. 

For a week, Tyler would talk to me, his breath would knock me over and I'd send him off to brush. Finally, I figured I needed to take charge and see if I could figure out what was happening in there.

We went into the bathroom at bedtime. I sat on the toilet lid so I could have a birdseye view.

"Alright, open up and tilt your head back. Let's see what's going on in there."

And then I almost threw up.

It looked like each tooth on the right side of his mouth was covered in yellow cottage cheese. The plaque was so thick I couldn't see enamel.

I got out my dental pick and started scraping. I wiped the plaque onto a piece of toilet paper so he could see it. I told him that growing pile was leftover food.

"Why didn't you brush that side?"

"After my tooth fell out, it hurt to brush over the hole so I just stopped."

Okay, then.

By the time I finished scraping and flossing, I swear there was enough plaque to make a small scale model of a tooth. We had another long talk about brushing, flossing and using mouthwash. 

I told him when he loses his last baby tooth, he can't not brush but to go back the the manual toothbrush on that side until his gums aren't tender. We talked about occasionally swishing with a mixture of warm water, mouthwash and hydrogen peroxide. 

Even though our son is 10, apparently he still needs supervision for basic things. I was hoping we have reached the point in his life where I can count on him to wash his own face, brush his own hair, clip his own nails and not arbitrarily decide to stop brushing half his teeth, but obviously, leaving him to own devices is not a good idea. I will never be able to clean the image of his furry teeth from my brain. 

Still, at least we have the tools to keep his mouth healthy. Many families so not and their children really suffer. Read on to learn a few fact about pediatric dental disease and then please leave me one of your recent parenting fails so I don't feel quite so bad!

Statistics from America's Tooth
*An estimated 17 million children in America go without dental care each year.

*Pediatric dental disease is 5 times more common than asthma and 7 times more common than hay fever.

* 44% of American children will suffer from pediatric dental disease before they reach kindergarten.

*4.5 million children develop pediatric dental disease every year.

*Pediatric dental disease is a primary reason for emergency room visits in children.

*Left untreated, pediatric dental disease can lead to malnourishment, bacterial infections, required emergency surgery, and even death.

*Dental disease has been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pneumonia, poor pregnancy outcomes, and dementia.

This post is sponsored by The Motherhood. I received products from Johnson and Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNeil PPC as part of the Listerine Smart Rinse Sweet Smart Challenge.

Adult Braces: My Advice for Healthy Teeth and Gums

Monday, October 8, 2012

This is first in a series of sponsored posts for The Motherhood's SweetSmart campaign.

I'm not going to lie, having braces as an adult was a terrible experience. Not because of anything my orthodontist did, but because as adults, our mouths are pretty resistant to change. It took a lot of maneuvering to get my teeth straight. Now that the braces are off, I wish I could say I'm finished thinking about my teeth, but I'm not. You know that saying "the disease is worse than the cure?" I've been going through something like that ever since my braces came off.

In order for the orthodontist to have enough room to get my mouth in line, I had to have eight teeth pulled including my wisdom teeth. Now, even though my teeth are touching one another on top, there are really big spaces at my gumline and they're causing me huge problems.

My 'before' teeth
Had I known, I would have asked my orthodontist what problems I might expect after my braces were off. I would have asked if there was anything I could do before my braces were even put on that would help with the aftercare. Based on what is happening to me now, my biggest advice for anyone getting braces is to make sure your gums are as healthy as possible before the braces go on. Had I known this, it might have saved me some of the pain I'm having now.

The spaces and pockets along my gumline are larger than they were before my braces went on and they're especially deep around the back molars where the anchor band was. Nothing I'm doing now seems to be helping them return to a completely healthy state, though the dentist assures me the areas aren't getting any worse. Still, if I could go back in time six months before my braces went on, here are four things I would do religiously:

Floss every day
This seems like a no brainer, but I hated flossing so I rarely ever did. My teeth were so crowded together it was really hard for me to get the floss to pass through. Now, the extra space means I have to triple up on the string of floss to have even a hope of getting any of the trapped food to come out.

Brush three times a day
Even if I had to use a manual toothbrush while I was out, more brushing would mean less opportunity for trapped food and plaque buildup.Even the disposable toothbrushes are better than nothing.

Buy a cordless Waterpik
I don't know about you, but sometimes the only way I get things done is by multi-tasking. Brushing my teeth in the shower is a pretty common occurrence. I think I would use this system more often if I had the option of using it in the shower. Plus? No food bits in the sink. Yuck.

Combine mouthwash and hydrogen peroxide
This goes along with the Waterpik. My hygienist told me to do this. When I do remember to use the Waterpik, I add a full cap of mouthwash and about two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide. The mouthwash is for freshening and the peroxide is for the germs.

My new smile
Who knows if this would have helped me, but it definitely would have given me a fighting chance at having completely healthy gums and put me a bit ahead of the game whereas now I've fallen way behind. I thought that getting my braces off would mean a return to normal dental habits but I'm spending just as much time at the dentist's office as when I had them on. More importantly, I'm still spending a lot of money on special cleanings and extra exams. If you know braces are in your future, do yourself a favor and make your gum health a top priority.

This post is sponsored by The Motherhood. I received products from Johnson and Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNeil PPC as part of the Listerine Smart Rinse Sweet Smart Challenge.
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