Thursday, September 11, 2008

Momma don't let your kids drink juice

While the saga of Elizabeth's teeth continues, I thought I'd take a moment to delve deep into one of my greatest fears; being a bad parent.

Elizabeth went to see the dentist a few weeks back for the very first time. At four years old, she was scared, but we had been preparing her for awhile, telling her what to expect, what to do, even getting her some books about the dentist. During her checkup/cleaning, she did a wonderful job listening to the hygienist and sitting still in the chair. She even spoke to her (which means she couldn't have been too scared) during the cleaning. When the dentist came in and started calling out numbers and letters and codes, I knew something was wrong.

You see, I've been around dentists long enough to know what that secret speech means. I've had teeth extracted with nitrous oxide (laughing gas), with Novocaine, and with nothing but (what I can only describe as) acupressure (it didn't hurt, so I was okay). I've had braces and all the torture that goes along with it. I've had things ground and drilled and glued. My last "bad" trip involved me nearly choking on a mold for a night guard. Then I nearly choked again at the price. Anyway, that special code meant only one thing. Cavities. Granted, I only have three myself, I still know it isn't a good sign.

So when he was done, the dentist advised Elizabeth should come in for a one-stop fix-it session. They'd put her under (with real anaesthesia, not just gas) and take care of her teeth (lots of cavities and crowns). We were shocked. Scared. Nervous. Angry. All sorts of emotions going through our heads as parents (and I'm sure Elizabeth had some thoughts too).

Well we survived the long dental session (nearly two hours) and the recovery. She still has some pain so I'm sure we'll need to go back to touch up the bite plains. But all of this is just a little taste of how crappy things can get by letting your kids have juice.

That's right, juice. I'm sure most of you drink it at some point during the day, so hurry over to your fridge and grab a bottle. I'll wait while you bring it back.

Back? Good. Now read the ingredients. See anything that could be sugar in there? More than likely you do. Don't drink juice? Not a problem. Think about what you eat for breakfast. According to the dentist, if you eat anything besides sausage, it has sugar in it.

Why is juice (and the sugar in it) bad? Well, we all know too much candy (and the sugar in it) rots your teeth. But we never thought juice would be like liquid candy. We gave Elizabeth two juices to drink everyday when she went to the sitters. Sure, we brushed her teeth, but never religiously. Not every morning, every night, and every meal in between.

I guess I'll finish this long diatribe off with some sound advice from a parent that feels like crap about how his daughter's teeth have fared over the last four years. Give your kids juice during meals only. Let them drink only water in between meals. Brush their teeth as soon as they get them. Once a day is okay, twice is better. When they're old enough to chew gum (and not stick it under the table), make sure they chew sugarless gum (like Trident). All of this will save you two grand in dental bills and a heap load of guilt.

PS - See? I made it a Three for Thursday day!


cinda1212 said...

Our kids go to the dentist for the first time in a couple weeks. Cooper's been for the 'fun visit', but... this will be the first cleaning. I'm a little petrified. I didn't have a cavity until I was in college, and otherwise have completely perfect teeth... but my kids drink juice like there's no tomorrow. They love to brush, but again, you have to imagine a 3 year old's brushing technique isn't the best.

TK42ONE said...

My first cavity was in college too (after drinking Mountain Dew three times a day). Of all my cavities, only one has needed any sort of numbing. The other two were small enough for them to drill and fill with no pain.

And the dentist visit is scary, for the kids and the parents. But if you have a good dentist, it'll all work out.

cinda1212 said...

Their dentist is my dentist - who I've seen since I was 4 (except for a few years when I was in Idaho). I didn't even know I had a silver filling until AFTER it was put in, that's how tiny it was. Kinda irritated he didn't tell me about it beforehand (this was an ID dentist)... oh well.