PART 1 of many…
A couple of weeks ago, Jetzen made his first trip to the dentist. His teeth have shown signs of decay since he was under a year old, which has always concerned me. I mentioned this to his pediatrician at his 1-year check-up who said that was “normal” and that 3 was a good age to take him in for his first visit to the dentist. So, for a couple of years I continued to shrug off the nagging worries about the cavities I could see forming and growing in his little pearly whites despite our regimented daily brushing schedule.
The visit to the dentist proved to be as challenging as I had feared it would be. Jet sat in my lap on the reclining chair as the dentist, his technician and me all tried to coax him into opening his mouth for a quick peek. He sat welded to me, offering a tight-lipped “uh-uhh” each time he was asked to “open up”.
At some point he conceded to open his mouth – for me. The dentist could look inside but I had to hold the tools: a mirror and an explorer. Since I’d been brushing his teeth every day for the past three years, I knew all the problem areas to point out to the dentist. After about 30 seconds of looking, the dentist removed his gloves with a “That’s fine. I’ve seen enough.”
Really?! All that prodding for a 30-second peek? I was surprised and relieved… and also concerned. The dentist escorted us to a room with a big-screen TV and a small conference table. “You can pick out a toy from the treasure chest,” he said to Jet, and then “have a seat and we’ll go over his dental plan.” I sat and listened as he informed me that Jetzen needed approximately $5,000 worth of dental work, which could be performed in a 3.5 hour surgery under general anesthesia. He said the sooner the better. My head was spinning with thoughts and questions. How could this be? We brush every day. We only do sweets occasionally. He drinks water when most kids drink juice, sodas, etc. Should we have come in sooner? Was 3 too late? How could this be? “Is this normal for his age?” I asked.
“No, not at all. A lot of kids have a small cavity or two by the age of 3, but his decay is very advanced.”
“But how could that be?” After ringing in my ears, it felt good to get it out. “How could that be when we brush regularly and avoid sweets?”
“Obviously there’s something else going on with him.” he said. “He doesn’t have much plaque so I can tell that you’re brushing. Even a lot of sweets shouldn’t cause this much decay at such an early age. I don’t know, really… we see situations like this occasionally. Genetics, maybe.”
“I see.” I said, but I didn’t. It didn’t make sense and I was feeling a knot build in my stomach. The money was one thing, but the anesthesia really freaked me out. Being the naturalist that I am, the thought having my little guy put under for dental work seemed so extreme. “Are there any alternatives?” I asked, hopeful.
“Oh, no. There’s really no other option at this point. The anesthesiologist will be here on the 24th, we can schedule you then.” And with that he walked out of the room, leaving me to watch Jetzen as he played with the toys in the treasure chest.
I paid the $75 office visit and declined to make the appointment on the 24th, with an “I’d like to think this this over a bit and I’ll give you a call.” And then we drove home… with Jetzen commenting on how the toys in the treasure chest weren’t really “treasures” and me feeling the knot grow bigger. I smiled at my baby in the rear-view mirror and wondered, again, “how could this be?” – and then made the decision to get a second opinion.
Stay tuned… the second opinion may surprise you! :-)