So after my musings from a few days ago about how I’m ready to officially move on from the baby years, both of my girls were sick this week and got up multiple times in the night over three consecutive nights. I think that seals it – I am definitely, without question, too old for that kind of nonsense. CONFIRMED.
I am not a regular coffee drinker – I have tea every day, but always herbal or decaf – so caffeine and I are not close friends. But this week, I have drunk the coffee. AND KEEP IT COMING, my eyeballs say, as my hands start shaking and I develop a weird facial tic. I’m a bit of a physical and mental mess, is what I’m saying, so forgive me if this seems like a bit of a mess of a post.
What I really want to talk about is modern dentistry. Over the past few years I have become jaded about the need for dental maintenance and other advanced dental gymnastics. Growing up, I was a faithful twice-yearly cleaning kind of girl, and I got the occasional filling, but that was it. I had my wisdom teeth removed in my early 20s, more at my own suggestion than my dentist’s (I was having some mysterious headaches, turns out he was right, it wasn’t related to the teeth), and I went for an orthodontal consulation in my teens, again at my own insistence, in which I was told my bite was just fine and to move along. I always considered our dentist to be a medical professional akin to a doctor, someone who would give you sound advice and you could take that advice and who had no skin in the game except your own health.
Recently, however, I’ve come to view dentists as half doctors, and half salespeople. It seems every time we go for a checkup, there’s some new process or new system or new referral they are recommending. We have full insurance through Sir Monkeypants’ work, so it’s not about the cost, but I still feel like they are pushing things we don’t need. Is this true? Or has dentistry made huge leaps forward and I’m behind the times?
My kids just had their semi-annual checkups this morning and X-rays – both regular and panoramic – were recommended for all three. They recommend X-rays for them once a year. I don’t think I had a single dental X-ray until I went to have my wisdom teeth out – certainly never before all my baby teeth fell out. I refused the X-rays, and I had to sign this big waiver about how the dentist can’t find all cavities if I don’t agree to it. What do you think – more tech than needed, or should I have said yes?
And then there’s ortho. My son just told me yesterday that it’s officially crossed the 50% mark – 14 people in his Grade 8 class now have braces, versus 12 that don’t. When I was in school, braces were a Grade 10/11 thing, not a Grade 7/8 thing, but now I see kids at the school as young as Grade 5 with a full set. It used to be the odd guy here and there with braces, now it seems everyone gets them as a matter of course and those without are the exception, not the rule.
Both of my older two were “referred” to the orthodontist at age 11, and my middle daughter ended up with an expander, this thing that went in the roof of her mouth for six months to create extra space for her new teeth that were coming in. I regret it now – it was annoying and uncomfortable for her, it used up 1/3 of her lifetime ortho coverage, and I really think it was not worth it. At the time she’d barely lost half of her baby teeth and was nowhere near puberty, so there was no way to know how big her mouth would eventually get and what the long term need would be. At the time of the referral, I think my son had only lost about 10 baby teeth. That seems way too young to be considering braces – can’t everything shift around when the rest come in?
My youngest is only 9 and today they recommended she go for an ortho appointment, “just to check her bite.” First, she’s NINE, second, she’s lost a grand total of EIGHT baby teeth, and third, her bite seems absolutely fine to us and we have no concerns. Is this a potential kickback scheme? Or am I paranoid?
(Needless to say, we refused the ortho referral.)
I stopped all dental work myself about four years ago and I feel fantastic about it – I take super good care of my teeth at home and I’ve never been happier with them. I’d stop it for the kids too, but frankly they are all TERRIBLE brushers, I’m sure the cleaning they get twice a year at the dentist is the only time some of their teeth even see a brush. But it’s getting more and more annoying to have to put my foot down and say “no” to a thousand new “services” they offer. Am I the only one who feels this way?