Monday, October 17, 2011

The dreaded early childhood caries or baby cavities

Gideon went in for his first dentist appointment when he was 14 months. He had a very badly chipped tooth and a few yellow spots on his teeth. The dentist looked in his mouth and immediately said, "He'll need all four front teeth capped."

So, we talked to the business guy and he explained the costs if we did at the hospital (he had to be put under) or in the office. We decided on the hospital because the insurance fully covers that- except for the white porcelain caps. There was no way we were going to put silver on his front teeth, so we asked for those.

I was very upset. I felt like it was my fault- not brushing his teeth often enough, letting him nurse through the night (which, by the way, turns out to not be the cause). After researching though, it looks like genetics is the biggest factor in ECCs. And, they haven't figured out a sure fire way to prevent them- just like adult cavities. We debated on getting a second opinion. I didn't really like the dentist much and wanted to know if there were other options.

They are kind of hard to see, but the tooth all the way on the left is very chipped.

After much research, I saw that caps were the most common option. There are some other alternative treatments but with his chipped tooth, I was afraid of him losing it altogether if it wasn't capped soon. It continued to chip even more between the original appointment and the surgery.

Well, a month ago, they called to give us our appointment day. He had a pre dental work appointment with the pediatrician to make sure he was healthy enough for the anesthesia. Also, Gideon believes that all nurses and doctors are there to torture him- appointments are really fun and loud.

His dental work was done a week ago. The scheduled him for early morning so he couldn't nurse after 1 am. It was a LONG night with little sleep for me or Dave. We finally had to put Gideon in his car seat and drive. Once Gideon was asleep, we parked and Dave slept. I think I only had two hours total sleep that night.

Waiting for the anesthesia was the hardest part. Once they gave him some oral meds that made him loopy, we had to hold him- all while he fought us to get down. I went back with him while they put him under. By that time the drugs weren't making him loopy, he was grumpy and he SCREAMED until he was out. It was the hardest thing ever to walk away from him. He looked so tiny on the hospital table.

The actual procedure was very fast. The dentist met with us and suggested we stop giving him soda (I wish there was an eye rolling smiley I could put in here. WHY would he assume that? Also, we told him that we have never given Gideon soda at the first appointment.) Once we told him that again, he said, "Hmm, guess the cavities were genetic." (And, the great part, the bill we received for the dental work included a $35 charge for oral hygiene instruction- insert eye roll- was that what that was?) If we were paying out of pocket, I would be disputing that!

His new teeth. It's the best picture we've been able to get of them!

Anyway, Gideon is doing fine. He had a rough couple of days and we kept him on baby motrin. His teeth look good and we are being VERY diligent about brushing. Hopefully we can keep the other cavities away.

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