Brace the facts – a toothsome tale
She parks her gas-guzzling grocery-getter in the narrow parking space, grabs her larger-than-life handbag stuffed with every MacGyver-style ingredient, and remembers to grab the keys out of the ignition before locking the doors. She demands her son stop his free-ranging run up the wheelchair ramp and notices that he’s wearing his stinky barn shoes and not the summer sandals she asked him to put on before they left. A groan escapes her lips. They walk through the door, she gives four names to the receptionist and then sinks into the plush, leather waiting-room sofa, uttering silent prayers that the cavity monster would avoid her family … just once.
Two hours later they leave the office. One child has two cavities in his baby teeth and though she wonders if it’s really necessary to fix something that’s going to fall out in another year, she agrees to the sealing procedure and writes out a check for $85. Another child needs sealant on the large pits in her brand-spanking-new 12-year molars. They’ll take care of that at the next appointment. The other child has one cavity. That will need fixed — let’s schedule it for July – no, that’s fair week, the next? Sure. They also recommend a prescription toothpaste with fluoride. It’s $12 a tube, but it’s worth it they say.
Oh, and it’s time for the oldest to get braces. The middle child? She’ll need them in another year or so. The seven-year-old? Chances are … some day. A quick Google search presumes the average price of braces is $3,000 to $7,000. She wonders what they’re charging for stress-induced heart attacks these days.
Why do my kids have cavities? Lest you think my kids are popping candy and guzzling sugary juice drinks … no. Not in this house. We’re a waterlogged, milk drinking party of five. Usually I only buy orange juice for camping trips. I’m not a fan of boatloads of sugar. Also, I’m a bit of a drill sergeant when it comes to tooth brushing. I’m a stickler for the fluoride rinse-n-spit before bed.
The dentist told me it’s the nature of our modern culture. He says sugar is unavoidable these days. He also admitted that his own daughter recently had two cavities. Strangely, that made me feel better. Apparently I do not need to carry around the burden of blame for my children’s teeth. Whew! That’s one thing I can cross off my list. I also feel it’s necessary to tell you that we love our dentist and his staff. We trust him completely and appreciate his expert care. But dang! Beautiful smiles are expensive — something I’m sure many of you already know.
She had planned to leave the dentist and go to the you-pick place for strawberries to make jam. Dental dilemmas and wayward raindrops weigh on her mind, and they head for home, instead. She realizes those flabbergasting numbers are probably closer to the truth then she ever realized —you know, those figures published in parenting magazines that preach the astronomical costs of raising children. She always considered them with disbelief. Her children certainly didn’t cost that much to raise! Well no, not then. Now, though … maybe. They are starting to eat her out of house and home on a daily basis. The 12-year-old has started pointing out potential pick-up trucks for when she’s driving in a feew years. What?! So yeah … maybe those cost of kids numbers don’t lie.
Ahhhh, the parental plight. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m just entering a new season of childhood that takes some getting used to. I have tweenagers who correct me, question my logic and seemingly have all the answers. Yes. It really is happening, just like they told me it would. There are mood swings and hormonal outbursts and inexplicable tears. Also, there’s the youngest child who some days stares at his sisters with utter disbelief and on other days, determines to control them with stern orders and scathing remarks.
It’s like I’m surrounded by short, really annoying adults. Hmmm. Certainly I never acted in such a way … !