A small tooth matter

12:57 PM

One of the few things that kept us busy last Saturday was a trip to the dentist, as Ishita had two tiny cavities that needed attention. I am not sure if the ordeal was worse for her or me to be frank. Because you see, as a mom I felt terribly responsible for it. And for no fault of mine either might I add.

I've always insisted on good oral hygiene, made sure her teeth were brushed correctly, she doesn't eat that many sweets because I don't allow candies to be a staple in her diet, we don't do juice often, soft drinks are extremely rare. And I make a point of checking her teeth regularly for any sign of trouble, mostly because I know a 4 years old is not always going to brush carefully and that there are some far to reach spots in the back that could potentially not get any attention...in brief, I am a careful parent making sure all is done to minimise cavities...yet they happened! I was doing a routine check in her mouth on Friday when I saw two light brown spots and chipped enamel. I know for a fact they were cavities, all these videos and picture they showed us in schools until I was 15 are too vividly printed in my mouth (they are big on oral hygiene awareness and prevention back home). I knew it was time for a dentist trip, I knew they were small and in early stage, I knew I did everything right, but I still felt like an inch tall and rotten with guilt.

My baby had cavities!

She had cavities on her milk teeth, while I grew up having not a single one until the age of 22 on a back molar that was very deep creased and would have been prone to such thing according to my dentist. Ishita's ones were on the front of her top canine and the side of one of her top middle tooth! A spot I would expect to be less prone to them than a molar. DH also seem to have inherited might hard enamel and teeth as he never even had one in all his life, and there we have a daughter who seem to be far more cavity prone...how? How? HOW? Needless to say I took to google to find some answers to try to make me feel better about my parenting and caregiving skills. You know anything that would stop the "worst mom ever" shouting voice in my head. Turns out that while sugar is indeed a cause of tooth decay, it is not the only culprit, your teeth overall hardness and quality also plays a huge role, so does the natural PH of your mouth, and a truck load of hereditary factor. Basically if you were born with a tendency to have soft teeth and thin enamel, the risk of having said teeth attacked by these sugar loving bacteria is much higher. I also learned that vitamin D deficiency also can lead to being more cavity prone along with being deficient in other minerals. So yes, candies are not the best thing in the world, but your children eating a few here and there and brushing regularly is not going to be harmful.

But back to my mommy guilt shall we? Researching cavities did make me feel a tad better, I even realised that I could help Ishita's teeth strength hyping the fat soluble vitamins in her diet. Introducing cod liver oil to her diet, insisting on her eating eggs daily, offering cheese in the evening, as it is apparently a food known to lower acidity in the mouth on top of being even more calcium and protein rich than milk. I called the dental clinic to make an appointment on Saturday morning, to meet a pediatric dentist in the afternoon.

But I was myself scared, not of the pain she could get, but of the potential backlash and lecture I could get. which might seem ridiculous, but 10 years in India has taught me that there are a number of health care providers out there that like to make assumptions about me or my daughter solely based on the fact I am not Indian. And served me stereotypes of "foreigners all eat junk food" too many time, this is after all how a certain gynaecology of mine refused to investigate my weight gain issues until I out my foot serious down. "You are a foreigner, start by learning how to cook to loose weight" she said, without asking me about my diet, my lifestyle or anything...my skin colour was clearly enough an indication of my lifestyle alone...dang it. he wasn't the only one, I had other doctors jumping to conclusions quickly. had pediatrician doing the same, telling me that Ishita was the way she was because westerners are less good parents, feed their kids crap all the time...get the idea? This has led me to feel a bit on edge each and everytime I have to see a new doctor, for myself, or my daughter. With something that is often related to food issues such as cavities, I was bracing myself for a full blow of cultural bashing.

The blow never came! The dentist was a sweet man, who gently looked at Ishita's teeth, and told me that I caught these early, and even informed me that there was a decal indicating spot on the other top canine that could even be treated at home with a fluoride treatment. He then focused on Ishita and took time to show her his tools and let her feel things, but never even got to start doing the very superficial drilling needed on her teeth on that day. He congratulated her for being such a good girl and then asked me to come back on Tuesday to try again, asking me to show her YouTube videos of children's dentist visits to help her feel better and more confident about it. She loved the videos, she loved my initiation noises of the drill and slurpy straw. She was fine about going back there, until she sat in the chair again. The dentist's initial plan was to start filling only one of the two cavities, the drill part was only to be a few seconds considering how small and superficial said cavities were, but Ishita never let him, he was fine with it and offered me a plan B that consisted of him gently scraping the cavities clean with a manual scraper and fill it with a fluoride rich filling. Ishita was fine with it too and this is what we ended up doing instead.

Now as a grown up who grew up going to a regular dentists for all my check ups, I never knew pediatric dentists were so gentle and caring about not scaring the kids either. My generation never liked going to the dentists, we all have memories of scary guys that do things to you without explaining a single thing before hand. My family dentist was a guy who had anger management issues and was not even patient with adults, more less with kids afraid of the straw and polisher. Seeing a dentist take double the time for each procedures and finding funny things to say about a drill was something really nice. Heck Ishi's dentist even told her that once he was done she could even get treated to an ice cream by her mommy. In my days I think the dentists would have told us that sweets were bad and made us feel horrible about having cavities...that is what the dental hygienist giving the lecture on oral care once a year was constantly saying. Ishita told him that she wanted cake, not ice cream and he played along with her and filled the two cavities in one sitting telling me to just allow the filling to dry and set for one hour before giving her that slice of cake and to come back every 3 months for check ups to see how the fillings are holding and of again congratulated me on catching the cavities in her mouth early enough (mommy guilt begone!!!!!).

After that second trip Ishita told me she liked the dentist, and that he was nice. I could not agree more with her, and after the hour was over, we headed to a coffee shop to celebrate her courage with some cake (we brushed afterward, that goes without saying).


  1. Navya3:51 PM

    Seems like you found an amazing dentist... I have always had teeth issues, I blame heredity - it started with braces at age 12 and many tooth decays later due to poor teeth quality - I have spent most of my childhood at the dental chair with mouth wide open :), the dentist I used to go to is actually a very fond memory of my childhood like how I assume Ishi's would be.

  2. There is definitely some hereditary factor at play with teeth and cavities. I always had strong teeth and the only tooth woe I had as a child was when I bumped hard into a chair and my tooth turned black, the nerve I. It was dead and apparently I had to go get it desensitised to avoid it rotting, but I don't remember that, I was really young, that tooth only caused problem when the adult tooth grew behind it and we found out that since the tooth was dead the root was not melting preventing its fall, so we had to extract it. After that I had braces like most kids at age 12 but I never had cavities until I found one on a back molar at age 22. The dentist I had then told me that it was due to my molars having deep creases that are tough to keep clean but added that with the thick and very hard enamel I have on my teeth I was going to be far less cavity prone than others all my life. Ishita mprobably inherited some recessive genes because I know I have some relatives with lousy teeth.

  3. You are so lucky to have found a dentist that your daughter liked. My husband hears horror stories from his patients sometimes, because they've been traumatized by bad doctors as a child. I'm glad you still let her have cake afterward. She deserved it!

  4. She definitely deserved that cake, she was very brave. I grew up with a dentist horror story, because our family dentist wasn't the most patient type, and I am sure he had anger management issues as well. As a small child I bumped my tooth against a chair while falling, it died and needed to be desensitised, while I don't remember that part, I remember


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