Why I Feel Guilty When My Kids Have Cavities
Note from Smiles Dental: This post was written by guest blogger and Smiles Dental mom, Monique Tindall. She hopes that by sharing her personal dental stories, other parents will understand the importance of dental health for their kids. Her articles take a look at the humorous side of teeth-brushing and dentist visits. Thanks for reading! When I was a kid and it was time to visit the dentist, it was all about getting the report that we had no cavities. Cavities meant you were not doing your job in taking good care of your teeth. They meant you would have to go back to the dentist, get a shot and have the cavities filled. A cavity meant you failed. Ugh. Growing up, I had deep crevices in my back teeth — and even though the doctor told me that there was probably nothing I could have done better — I still felt guilty every time I had a cavity. Well, now as the mom of three, that guilt has transferred to their oral health. As the parent I now wait anxiously to hear from the dentist whether my kids have cavities or not. I fear that I haven’t made sure they were brushing well enough or they have been eating too much candy and refined carbs. We are always so proud when they get their stars for no cavities. Then that dreaded day came when my daughter had some small cavities. Boom! I was struck with guilt that I hadn’t done my job as a mom. I should have helped her brush more. The doctor assured me that she just had deep crevices in her molars, as I had, and there wasn’t much we could have done to avoid these small cavities. So, to help other moms who struggle with the same feeling of guilt, here are some thoughts on crushing that monster when it comes to our kids’ teeth: Genetics are not your fault. Some people just have softer teeth or deep crevices. It is the way they were born, and no matter how much brushing you do, staying cavity-free may be a challenge. You are not alone. According to The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, as much as 42 percent of children ages 2 to 11 have had dental caries in their primary teeth. At some point kids need to be responsible for themselves. My teen just had a few cavities filled. We have taught and encouraged good oral hygiene, but many times teens lack the motivation for their oral hygiene care. This is a common challenge for parents of teens. It’s important to teach them that, as they grow up and become adults, that they are responsible for their own health. What can you do to help avoid cavities in the mouths of your kids? 1. The best thing you can do is to teach your kids great oral hygiene. Remember that they do not have the dexterity to fully brush on their own until age 8. Encourage them to brush twice per day and floss daily. 2. Consider sealants. Dental sealants are great for those deep crevices or for individuals who have challenging dental genetics. Sometimes, as in my case, insurance doesn’t cover the cost of sealants, but it is definitely cheaper than paying to have cavities filled. 3. Visit your dentist regularly. Getting your kids to the dentist regularly is the best step you can take for great, life-long oral health. 4. Be a good example of taking care of your oral health. Brush and floss together with your kids. Let them know when you are going to the dentist. Kids will mimic what you do. I recently talked with an 83-year-old great grandma who brushes after every meal. She does it with her grandkids. She hasn’t had a cavity in more than 50 years! She says her kids, grand and great grandchildren all brush after every meal because of her example. She is proud of the good example she set for them, and she said she’s never felt guilty about cavities. She’s done her best and the rest is out of her control. 5. At the end of the day, remember: Cavities are out of your control.