i've been to the dentist a thousand times

 Originally Published: March 29th, 2011

Apologies to Owl City

Once I was done dazzling and amazing the dentist with my lack of dental care supreme survival skills, I scheduled appointments for the whole family to go get cleaned.

We shut the place down for the afternoon last Friday. They did all three big kids at once. Upon arrival, Arwen began to question exactly how good this dentist was. I was puzzled until she pointed out how empty the waiting room was.

Then it dawned on me that we were the only scheduled patients. Because there were so doggone many of us.

Then it dawned on me that I am a mother of four, three of which were visiting the dentist for the first time.

Then it dawned on me that I’ll be 30 next month and this is a very grown up thing to do- taking three kids to see the dentist.

Brent and Evie met us there shortly after we arrived and the three of us (Brent, Evie, and I) wondered the hallway checking in on everyone. Ezra was a tad bit reserved as usual, but eventually he opened up and got a good cleaning. Arwen was very worried that the only choices in “cleaner” flavor were “chocolate chip cookie dough” or “bubble gum.” Evidently she didn’t think either one sounded very healthy and was sure her mother would not approve. I told her to take her liberty and she was very cautious about choosing cookie dough.

I refused the fluoride treatments for all three. No one questioned me. And none of them had any cavities! Everyone got new toothbrushes, which is a relief because Evie keeps sticking them all in the toilet. We go through a lot of tooth brushes.

Today, I had to return again, to have a couple small cavities of my own filled and also have my mercury filling on one side replaced. I felt like I should ask for a key to the place since I practically live there now.

Only problem was that my stinkin’ mouth got stuck open last week when I yawned. Yeah you heard me. My mouth got stuck open. Normally, I would laugh off such a comical sounding event. But this hurt. As in, if I could have gotten a big saw and cut my head off, I would have. Now, this has happened to me before, years ago. I would be up in the night nursing baby Arwen, yawn, and then POP! Uh oh. I’d wake Brent up and he’d take the baby while I applied heat and then slammed my mouth shut. It usually only took a few minutes to resolve. But this time was not so pleasant or easy to laugh off. 30 minutes into it, I was really in excrutiating pain and starting to feel certain that something was broken. I had to type a text into my phone to communicate to Arwen what all my screaming and punching myself in the face was about.

Finally I got it shut and I haven’t been able to yawn since then. So, I saw my friendly chiropractor before my dental appointment this morning. She wins the prize of being the second person to make me cry today. She got all up in my mouth and I said, “OwOwOw!” a lot, and then I cried a little. Which was sort of embarrassing since the waiting area was filled with acquaintances and customers of Cheeky  Maiden. However, she did fix my jaw, because she rocks at fixing stuff.

I made it to the dentist and explained my recent jaw problems, and this made them equally antsy about the upcoming procedure to take place in the very back of my mouth. I opened as wide as I could and they numbed me all up.

With a needle.

You  may not know this, but me and needles? We don’t get along so well. I learned to enjoy piercings at one point in my life. That’s all we will say about that. But, needles in medical settings? It doesn’t jive.

He warned me that there was a lot of injecting about to take place and apologized and said he’d be as quick as possible. And then asked me to open as wide as I could.

My mind desperately searched for a happy place, but all I could think of was Evie’s birth. And I figured that if it wasn’t as bad as birthing a sumo wrestler unmedicated and then being catheterized shortly afterwards, I could probably take the pain.

Turns out I was right. The assistant proclaimed, “Wow! You didn’t even flinch!” And the dentist congratulated me on being so tough.

I told him he had nothin’ on my chiropractor, and kindly left out any mention of my birthing sumo wrestlers in my living room and stories of being sutured and catheterized. Since he was a dude and all.

I only have to go back one more time for the mercury filling on the other side to be replaced and then I’m all done I get to make my appointment for six months from now. (As a side note, please comment and let me know…do all ya’ll go every six months? Seriously?? Your kids too??)

And finally, I leave you with this song, from which I stole the line. Owl City is our family favorite…especially this song lately.

i'm living proof that sugar doesn't cause cavities

Other than that one hiccup (to which I can’t find the link) , I haven’t been to the dentist in about 17 years.

That hiccup I refer to was when a tooth broke while I was pregnant with Evie and I had to go get a crown. It was a horrible awful no-good experience, but it did make us realize that we should probably get dental insurance and have our teeth looked at every once in a while.

We finally remembered to sign up for it this year and I dutifully forgot each month to make an appointment until now. I went in today, confident that they were going to tell me my teeth were no good and they needed to take them out and start all over again.

The real reason I avoid the dentist? I hate that question: “Are you pregnant right now?” right before they turn on the x-ray machine.

Because my answer always goes a little something like this, “uuuuuuuuuuuh”.

It’s bad enough that I haven’t had my teeth cleaned in almost two decades, and it’s bad enough that I don’t go to the doctor for regular physicals or whatever, but it always gets dragged out of me that I homebirth, and all of this makes some people regard me as uneducated or poor.

I mean, who doesn’t get prenatal care, get their kids vaccinated, or get their teeth cleaned regularly than some white trash uneducated mom? This is how the medical profession views people like me.

Of course I’m confident in the reality that I receive the best prenatal care in the world, that I have one of the best health insurance plans in the United States, and that my family and I are incredibly healthy. But I still hate the question. I mean, who doesn’t know if they’re pregnant or not at any given moment? Go ahead, raise your hands, mammas!

However, the folks at our new dentist office were so sweet and did not make me feel bad at all for any of these things. Before she did the x-ray she did ask The Question, to which I responded, “Maybe. Maybe not.” But then I told her about how my midwife says that people use to get x-rays all the time while pregnant and smoke in the delivery room and stuff. (I know, I sounded really smart now.) To which my savvy dental hygienist questioned whether midwives were able to practice in Alabama.

Because admitting to participation in illegal activity is not something I like to do regularly, I usually try to skirt the issue with a “Weeeeeeeeelll…. it’s not really within the scope of the law.” And with further questioning I usually have to admit that what she does is “illegal” and it’s only her insane love for mammas and babies that she takes that risk, but that I, however, have done nothing illegal thankyewverymuch.

They did the x-rays and the cleaning and did a little beepy cavity detector thingy. I knew I had some, and anxiously awaited the arrival of the dentist to tell me that all of my teeth had to be removed right that minute, because just like you can’t have a healthy baby without a sonogram, you cannot have healthy teeth without regular dental x-rays…. right?

He was pleasantly surprised as he announced to me that my teeth were in great shape, despite my lack of dental care. I did have some very small cavities way in the back that needed to be filled, but nothing out of control.

“You must not eat very much sugar, because your teeth look really great.” he said.

Bless his heart. I smiled sweetly and said, “No, I guess I don’t.”

What I really wanted to say was, “Silly dentist. You don’t know that over consumption of processed grains and under consumption of raw fruits and veggies causes dental decay? And one only needs to clean the teeth gently with my fabulous Dental Soap occassionally to get them sparkling clean?”

Because I love me some sugar. I can control my sweet tooth when I want to- and I do, but to say that I avoid sugar would be a major lie. Now, I do avoid it when we’re sick, and I enjoy it in moderation (like, moderately, every day, k?).  I do not let anything touch my lips that is “Sugar Free”. This means that when I chew gum (which isn’t often) it’s the real sugar-laden kind. And when I eat ice cream, it’s got tons of the good stuff in it too.

However, it doesn’t take you long to figure out that we really enjoy good simple food around here. Raw stuff everyday at lunch and minimal amounts of grains and hardly any processed foods. So yes, maybe an apple a day really does keep the dentist away.

I stopped and got a Chocolate Milk Shake on the way home just to prove my point. 

And when I told Brent the good news he asked, “Did you tell them you never brush your teeth?” (I do brush my teeth, just not every week day.)

Of course I didn’t! But they did send me home with a tooth brush and some tooth paste, so maybe they’re on to me.