I posted back in July about my daughter's teeth problems. (http://mothering.com/discussions/sho...threadid=16787
for the thread, but just to recap -- she has four cavities in her top front teeth, and the pediatric dentist we saw told us that we could either have her put under GA to deal with them, or he could drill and fill them without anaesthetic.)
I spent about a month waffling about this. I really disliked both options, first of all. The idea of GA freaked me out, because kids can die
just from GA. But the idea of drilling without anaesthetic freaked me out too because I'm afraid of them hurting her. The dentist was not terribly reassuring: he said that you can tell that you've hit a nerve in a screaming toddler's tooth because usually the tone of the screams will change.
Also, he said that they might not be able to get all the decay that way but it would still be okay. Smilemama disagreed with both of those statements in her response to me -- first, she said that dentists should know where the nerves are and whether it's going to be possible to drill out the whole cavity without anaesthetic. Second, she said that it really is important to get all
the decay. I ended up feeling like I couldn't really trust the dentist I'd seen.
So, a couple days ago I called another dentist. Zollerman Family Dental (I live in Minneapolis) advertises in the local freebie parenting magazine as "no shots, no drills, no mercury." They use air abrasion to take care of cavities. So I called and made an appointment to bring in my daughter. She is almost two (she turns two next month).
Dr. Zollerman looked at dd, but he wasn't able to see a whole lot because he is strongly opposed to prying open a child's mouth or to force dental care on them that they're not willing to go along with. Which basically means that he can't
actually do anything about dd's cavities ... for at least a year, probably. And he said that he thought this was okay. His philosophy is, basically, that teeth are important but they're just teeth; it's not worth the risks of GA to treat cavities in baby teeth, and it's definitely not worth the risks of traumatizing a child by strapping them down or having the mom hold them down. He said that most of the adults they see who avoid dental care do so because of really bad experiences as children, and so in the long term, they felt it was more important to avoid trauma.
The way they deal with children is to have them come for regular visits where they don't actually do anything until the child is comfortable with the staff and willing to cooperate. Fortunately, they don't charge for any visit where no work is done. (Unfortunately, they're a 40 minute drive from my house ... out in the suburban boondocks. Sigh.) However, I don't expect that dd will be able to cooperate fully in dental care (even if she likes and trust them) for a year yet (though she's changed so much in the last year, it's hard to say how much she'll change in the next six months ... does anyone have any ideas, based on their own kids?)
I have to say that the general philosophy makes sense to me. A lot of dentists I've encountered seem to have this Teeth Uber Alles philosophy where you structure the child's entire life around making sure their teeth stay healthy. Like, you wean as soon as the teeth erupt, you never feed them anything sticky, you never feed them snacks, etc. (Never mind that with a lot of toddlers, grazing is the only
way to get a reasonable amount of nutritious food into them.) So it's nice to see a dentist who feels that it's more important not to permanently traumatize a little kid than to fix their teeth. (And who, like me, is uncomfortable with the idea of GA for something that isn't life-threatening, or at the very least doesn't threaten the child with a permanent disability.)
On the other hand, I'm also freaked out by the idea of just leaving
this for a year. (It doesn't help that I can see
one of the cavities; I'm reminded of this every time I look at dd's smile.) What are the ramifications of just leaving decay for a while? We have been brushing her teeth with fluoride toothpaste in the evening, and with water in the morning. The dentist we saw said that it would not reach the point of hurting her in a year and would still be fixable. Also, he said that it wasn't true that cavities in baby teeth could affect the permanent teeth.
: Smilemama, I would really, really appreciate your comments and insight.
Anyway. Dd liked the dentist and the dental hygienist a lot. After we left, she said, "more dentist!" and wanted to go back
So, well. I can definitely see the merit of their approach. I guess, though, that I need some reassurance that I'm not going to threaten my dd's long-term dental health if we just leave this for a while....