Living

I haven't taken my daughter to the dentist in two years -- am I a bad mother?

I hate everything to do with the dentist’s office. I hate the smell, the sounds, and the tastes. I hate going to the dentist so much that I literally cry when booking an appointment -- and that’s just for a check up. I’m getting the shivers just writing about this.

Masterfile

I hate everything to do with the dentist’s office. I hate the smell, the sounds, and the tastes. I hate going to the dentist so much that I literally cry when booking an appointment — and that’s just for a check up. I’m getting the shivers just writing about this.

And you will get the shivers when I admit that I haven’t taken my 7 year old to the dentist in almost two years. I like to say that “Time flies!” and “Has it been that long?” and “Well, she hates junk food, doesn’t drink pop and hasn’t complained about any pains, so why do we really need to go?”

Well, I’m failing as a mother in this department, that’s for sure. She hasn’t been to the dentist in as long as I haven’t been. I also learned that my three-and-a-half-year-old nephew went to the dentist and turned out that he needed not one, but two root canals! I cried when I heard this, because the little guy is only three — root canals are my worst nightmare! After that, it hit me that I really need to take my daughter to the dentist — my sister-in-law’s dentist told her that my nephew “just had bad teeth” and that “sometimes that happens, depending on your genetics.”

I talked to Dr. Roy Suarez, a dentist at Delisle Dental Group so he could literally yell at me for not taking my daughter to the dentist — and also so he could provide tips about childhood dental hygiene (which I know nothing about, except for the two times a day when I yell “Go brush your teeth!”).

How to take care of your child’s teeth

1. Dr. Suarez said that children should start going to the dentist at age three — “unless they fall and have an accident or chip a tooth. Or if you see a tooth turn brown or yellow, regardless of their age, take them to see a dentist.” Then it’s “every six months until they’re 90,” he said.

2. He said that, yes, some children are just born with bad teeth, but a lot of that can be about bad hygiene. “You can have two siblings who eat the same things and brush the same, and one will have more cavities than the other. Maybe it is genetic. But, generally speaking, you do have to have good hygiene.”

3. Most of the time when children three-years-old or younger have cavities, it’s because they sucked on bottles with juice in them, he said. “If they are going to bed with a bottle of juice, or drinking a bottle of juice all day long, that juice stays in the mouth and causes decay.” Parents must learn, as quickly as possible, to dilute the juice and work their babies up to drinking just water if they don’t want to see their young ones have cavities at a young age.

4. He did yell at me (kindly) about not taking my daughter to the dentist in almost two years. “It’s good that she doesn’t eat junk food or drink pop, but that doesn’t mean there may not be a problem.” In other words, while everything looks good to me, I’m not a dentist.

5. I tell him that my daughter has awful breath in the morning and ask if this is normal. He says it has to do with her toothpaste. He asks what kind and I tell him: watermelon-flavour Colgate. “To have good breath you need mint,” he said. “But as long as they’re brushing with toothpaste with fluoride that is dentist approved, no matter what the flavor, it’s okay.” Teaching your children to brush their tongues will also help with bad breath.

6. Children should brush for a full two minutes. He also said that at age seven they should start flossing. (Bad mommy!) He suggested getting children an egg timer to make sure they finish their two minutes of brushing.

7. I admit to Dr. Suarez that I really hate going to the dentist. I’m not alone, he said. “But the sooner you get your children in, the easier it will be for them to be comfortable at the dentist.”

After that chat, I’m going to book me and my daughter for dentist appointments. She’s coming with me to my dentist so we can both have appointments on the same day — and so I won’t have to see the dentist more often than I need to. Okay, and also so my daughter can hold my hand. (Sorry dentists. It’s not you, it’s me.)

Are any of you terrified about going to the dentist? Have you gotten lazy about taking in your own children for checkups?

Follow me @rebeccaeckler and How to Raise a Boyfriend