6/19/13

My Biggest Failure Update: I Never Brush My Kids Teeth Part 2

when they all had their baby teeth. Photo by Keith Pitts
To prepare for my storytelling class, the teacher asked us to bring a 2-to-3 minutes short story that shows an individualistic quality about our self. He suggested it be something we find a little daring to share. He gave us some examples like, "Everyone thinks I'm hard as nails, but I'm secretly a softie!" or "I know it sounds crazy, but I really do believe in angels!" I decided to go with something like, "Everyone thinks I'm a great mom but I've totally neglected to teach my kids the most basic personal hygiene habits." I reworked this old post to fit into his guidelines. I'm working on memorizing it before our Saturday class . . .



I walked into the dentist office with my 4-year old twin boys on a crisp September morning. It was their first visit to the dentist ever. As I was greeted by the receptionist, I thought about how I did nothing to prepare them for their first visit. I’m not talking about reading them a book about going to the dentist the day before the appointment, I’m talking years of unpreparing at the most basic level. Brushing their teeth was one of my parenting responsibilities I completely let slide. I had spurts of caring about their teeth, but then I’d misplace their tooth brushes or be so exhausted after preparing them unprocessed whole foods, bathing them, reading to them, singing folk songs, getting them in clean diapers, give them a kisses all day everyday. They're just baby teeth anyway, I secretly justified. The rough draft to the final version.

After I was greeted by the dentist's receptionist, I sat down to fill out their required paper work for new patients. I was confident my secret wouldn't be found out as I looked at my boys putting a puzzle together on the floor. Look at those smiles--white as could be! The dentist will never know I’m lying when I check the box “Brush teeth twice or once a day.” I rounded way up. Maybe they'll have a few tiny cavities in the back of their mouths. Totally normal. I stayed in the waiting room as they got their cleanings. Everything seemed fine as they returned to me. Then I heard the dentist calling my name.

I felt the guilt rush over me as she inquired, “So how often are they really brushing their teeth?”

“Oh, eh, it’s the craziest thing. I’m horrible at reminding them! They almost never do.”

I thought she would find my honesty endearing and refreshing. Instead she looked offended. I realized I’m dealing with a person who takes teeth seriously. There’s nothing endearing to her about treating the most basic personal hygiene need as an oversight. I stopped smiling.

“The combined total of cavities for your boys is 9.”

“Wow. That’s a lot! I’m thinking it could possibly be genetic. Because I never brush my daughter's teeth and she’s never had a cavity in her life! And she has 2 more years of neglect on the boys.”

“No,” she said without the slightest bit of compassion, “It’s because you’re not brushing their teeth.” 

“Oh.”

$300 dollars later, I thought I learned my lesson, but at the next check-up, one of my sons was due for a baby root canal. Every time I see his shiny metal tooth in the back of his mouth, I’m reminded of my biggest failure as a mother. They say failure is the secret to success. I just think it’s the secret to a lot less cavities.

I wanted to give another shout out to the Go Mighty Team. Their idea to create, connect, and share goals is brilliant. I would've never signed up for the storytelling class without posting this goal on their site. Set up a profile and start with one goal. Just one scary goal. See where it will take you! Read  where it took me. 

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50 comments:

  1. Aaaaw, it's so hard to do everything right!

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  2. Great story! But not much of a parenting familiar. :) Do any of us remember to brush their teeth? I believe the its genetic theory!

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  3. I love the story - well written and captivating...and I love that I'm not the only one finding it hard to remember to brush their teeth.
    Suzanne

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  4. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

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  6. I've always had horrible teeth (father's side - true story)! My mom was good about making me brush them, but...that didn't mean I did a good job or knew what I was doing. I still remember the look of shock on my mom's face when, after getting braces on at 7 and off at 11), the dentist was concerned about my gum line and asked about my brushing and flossing. He was giving me a demo ("Flossing?!" I asked) and when I exclaimed, "Wait, you're supposed to brush the BACK of your teeth?!" I'm pretty sure I saw my mother's heart break.

    It should be mentioned that all of my dental work growing up was done without having insurance. Thanks, Mom! (Dad, I still need to talk to you about these teeth you gave me...hmph.)

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  7. That's terrible. Your job as a SAHM is to make sure their basic needs are met, tooth brushing included.

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    1. this might be my favorite comment in the history of this blog.

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    2. Seriously?!?! Anonymous, you must not have children.

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    3. Mine too Rob, too much!!

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    4. Hahahahaha, great comment Rob:)
      ~C

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    5. Looove the comment, love it

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    6. though the comment above is hilariously rude, i DO hate when people say "OH YOU MUST NOT HAVE CHILDREN" as if you're some kind of martyr for having kids. Just leave that part out...

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    7. No one thinks they are a martyr for having kids, it's just really easy to be judgmental about parenting unless you've walked a mile in their shoes, you know? Even fellow parents shouldn't be quick to judge one another, everyone's experience and struggles are different.

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    8. If a teen mom said she didn't brush her kids teeth you'd be calling social services. Just brush your kids teeth and more importantly teach them how. They could've been brushing their own teeth when they were 5, might not have done the best job but it definitely helps and in the beginning it makes kids feel "grown up" and theeennn if they start to neglect it, it's on them besides the bill being on you ;)

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    9. Social services has bigger fish to fry than parents who don't make their kids brush their teeth.

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  8. I can so relate to this story! Having 3 kids as well, when it's time for tooth brushing, I would rather stick needles in my eyes. That being said, my girls (who brush their own teeth ages 12 and 10) have never had 1 cavity. My son (age 7) has had 5, including the baby root canal. So I totally go with the genetic theory! Man, you just can only do so much, you know?

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  9. It's totally genetic! I've always been a sort of freak about teeth hygiene. I even floss nightly, and I still get cavities all the time (in fact, I think I may have one right now)! My brother, on the other hand, eats sweets all day, never brushes his teeth unless my mom calls him to remind him before he goes to bed, and is constantly downing iced coffees, has the most beautiful, cavity-free, sparkling white teeth. Not fair?

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  10. Sharon, you will be Mother of the Year & your dentist will love you forever if you teach your kids this song:)LOL
    ~C

    Well, you wake up in the morning,
    It's a quarter to one and you wanna have a little fun

    (Chorus:)
    You brush your teeth (brush, brush, brush your teeth)
    You brush your teeth (brush, brush, brush your teeth)
    You brush your teeth - get 'em real nice and clean

    You wake up in the morning, it's a quarter to two
    and you wanna find something to do (Chorus)

    You wake up in the morning, it's a quarter to three
    and you wanna flash your smile at me (Chorus)

    You wake up in the morning, it's a quarter to four
    and you think you hear a knock on your door (Chorus)

    You wake up in the morning, it's a quarter to five
    and you start to hear those birds come alive (Chorus)

    You wake up in the morning, it's a quarter to six
    You know you better get those teeth brushed real quick (Chorus)

    You wake up in the morning, it's a quarter to seven
    When I'm brushing my teeth, I'm in seventh heaven (Chorus)

    You wake up in the morning, it's a quarter to eight
    You better finish brushing those teeth, or you're gonna be late (Chorus)

    You wake up in the morning, it's a quarter to nine
    When you're brushing your teeth, you know you feel real fine (Chorus)

    You wake up in the morning, it's a quarter to ten
    If you want any more, you'll have to sing it again

    (Chorus)

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    Replies
    1. Gotta love good ol' Raffi! :)

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    2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dup3IArSNs Here's the video ... love it!

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    3. I love that song, have known it since my own childhood, but it doesn't ever inspire me to actually brush my teeth :( Or my child's :(

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  11. At the age of 3, my husband had to have ALL of his baby teeth capped because his mother put him to bed every night with an apple juice bottle. I love those pictures of his little metal-mouthed smile. Everybody has their thing...

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    1. Oh my gosh ... so sad ... but so funny ...

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  12. well, that's very honest! My mom was the same way (she had 5 kids) she never checked if we had brushed her teeth, and of course, we didn't.
    Today, I have lots of cavities, crowns and need an implant. It doesn't help that I like candy so much! But I'm a real control freak when it comes to my kids' teeth, we found out my daughter (8) has been lying to us about brushing, so now she has to do it in the downstairs bedroom, in front of me...

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  13. I am tired after just reading that song.

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    1. Hahahaha...me too:)I sing it every night and my teeth are pearly white with no cavities...just sayin'.
      ~C

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  14. Oh my goodness, as a child my mom was good/not so good at helping us kids brush. She reminded me nonstop and sometimes I would listen and other times I would disregard her requests. (Like maybe I ignored her more often than not.) Dumbest choice EVER! Ever since I have had bad teeth and it's been an EXPENSIVE struggle ever since. I VOW to teach my children how to brush and to like it/do it for the sake of their own happiness and health. I can't even tell you how many root canals I've had (or redone ... the worst!). I feel like it's both a result of bad genes and poor hygiene at least for the first 10 years of my life. Thousands of dollars have been spent on my teeth ... that's the worst part (if you overlook the painful healing/shame and guilt that come along with it).

    Not only is it hard to lose that money, but creating a habit for healthy teeth is just so essential and challenging! Girl, I feel your pain. But for the sake of your future children and your bank account AND (especially)just for the sake of avoiding ANY drilling/fillings/caps/etc ... please, I beg of you (can you tell I've been through a lot?!) to help your children avoid unhappy visits to the dentist.

    Also, I just went to the dentist this morning and I'm always terrified that I'll need some work. And actually, more work is just an eventuality. SO LAME! (Which may be true for most people, but I feel like a lot of it could have been prevented.)

    Anyway, good luck with your kids. Sometimes they can be so squirmy! But just know that it's one of those struggles that are TOTALLY WORTH IT!

    P.S. I think you are still cool and I don't judge you. Because honestly, I've been where you are. Keep on keeping on!

    Amy

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  15. My sister brushes his teeth every night. (He's 18 months). She took him to the dentist and they found that he had 9 cavities. Thankfully their insurance covered the cost of sedation and work, but they were able to give him white fillings.

    It turns out he was pocketing food in his cheeks for the heck of it. Funny kid. My sister nearly had a heart attack over him having to have that work done. Now she makes him rinse his mouth with water after every meal. :)

    Alicia

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    1. "My sister brushes my nephew's teeth every night." Opps! - Alicia

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    2. lol just for the heck of it, saving it for a late night snack

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  16. I really love your honesty. I am also guilty of the same thing. My son is not an easy child, and the whole process of getting him bathed, making sure he goes to the bathroom before bed and reading books amidst massive tantrums or him just plain running away from me and staling the whole bedtime procedure was exhausting. He would FIGHT brushing his teeth and sometimmes run into bed, and I'll admit, I was so happy he was actually in bed, I'd let the tooth brushing go by the wayside too often. He had 6 cavities when I took him to the dentist. I know, I'm guilty. But i've changed my ways. Just saying thtat parenting an "explosive child" isn't easy, But I know it's no excuse,

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  17. You know what helps- showers..no really skip the baths and have them open there mouth in the shower alot and rinse and spit- gigantic water pic.

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  18. this makes me sad lol what went through their little minds whenever a kids show talked or sung about 'brush your teeth' were they like what tis this thing about brushing teeth? you brush your hair not your teeth silly rabbit trix are for kids

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  19. I was the oldest in my family and obsessed with brushing my teeth perfectly as well as flossing. I have had a few cavities and I am pretty sure I need my 2nd root canal. My mom never made my youngest sibling brush his teeth and he's doing just fine. Although I think that brushing is probably a good idea for their future (you know, for their romantic futures haha), I do believe that the things that will go on with your teeth does have a lot to do with genetics. I have a toothless baby right now and I think about having to get her to brush her teeth with a weird sense of dread all the time so this post really speaks to me. Thanks for being honest!

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  20. I learn so much from this blog. Sorta surprised about the brushing thing, but more interested in the comments. I look forward to revisiting the issue when I have kids.

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  21. People are talking about cavities but the only thing I can imagine is these gorgeous kids with halitosis. Not nice. :(

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  22. Yeah I agree...for the sake of your kids' oral health, and their BREATH, please brush their teeth!! Remember tooth decay and gum disease have been linked to heart disease in adults.

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  23. it's one thing to relate to someone's story of not quite living up to the PERFECTION that's often expected of mothers - and i must say, i can relate totally and wholeheartedly. but i really hope people don't allow this familiarity and camaraderie to mask the importance of the issue. growing up with a dentist for a father and a fledgling in the medical ranks myself, the things i've seen and heard of about peoples' oral health - unbelievable! not here to judge or lecture only to say even the smallest, seemingly unimportant things can have huge ramifications for our health, teeth included.

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  24. Honestly anything can happen so people need to take a step back with the "obvious health concearn" remarks. Being a mother of one can be challenging but I couldn't imagine having three and having to remember countless things to keep them happy and healthy! I am 28 years old and brush three times a day with a super expensive toothbrush and still get cavities literally every dentist visit. I eat a clean diet and don't binge on candy so I do believe its genetic. Atleast my husbands health insurance covers all dentist bills as I couldn't imagine the costs! Obviously we all know dental health is necessary for overall health but shit happens and thank god Sharon's children have excellent health!

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  25. neville longbottomJune 27, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    they'll start brushing their own teeth once one of their friends (or god forbid a crush) makes a comment about their breath lol

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  26. Ha, I also now can't stop imagining your sweet children having bad breath in all these pictures.

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  27. These diapers are SUPER absorbent. We've changed more than one leak from expensive diapers and most of them were all from 'weird angle!' accidents and the diapers were barely wet. With honest diapers you go to change the diaper and it's as heavy as a softball and you're just flabbergasted. They pull everything away from his skin, and are simply wonderful.

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  28. You are the best!!!! Super honest.

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  29. You are the best!!!! Super honest.

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