The process that got us to this place has been a slow and painful process. Painful, in that every day sometimes three or more times a day, even at the age of 12, I send Bashful back to the bathroom to re-brush his teeth. Most times I watch him stand in the bathroom, in front of the mirror with a wet toothbrush, tap in on the sink counter, and dance a little and replace it, with the brush never going into his mouth. On other times he has been observed, putting tooth paste on the brush, running the brush under the water (which is turned on so high) that the paste is blown off the brush into the bottom of the sink, and he places the empty brush in his mouth, and chews it and removes it. Additionally there have been times when the brushing has been a straight in and out, on one side or on the top only, rarely in the front of his mouth, never on his tongue.
As with all our dwarfs, we set the course for good oral hygiene by setting a good example. (the Prince and I combined probably brush 5 or more times a day.) By doing it for the dwarfs when they were small, by shadowing them as they grew into toddlers, encouraging them through electric toothbrushes, fancy colorful and flavor filled kids toothpaste options covered in cartoon characters and bright colors, and we have purchased gallons and gallons of fast acting, mint tasting, plaque identifying rinse agents. Feel free to relive the fun oral hygenie story posted many years ago to understand how long we have been working on these type of issues. http://www.malingle.com/2014/02/a-new-brand-of-toothpaste.html
However with all the tools he needs for the job, and all the redirection, teeth checks, and regular dentist visits, he has earned the affectionate name of "dog breath" here in the Kingdom, and has been directed on more than one occasions, randomly in the middle of the day to go brush away the funk... our motto is this:
"Brushing your teeth each morning is your gift
to all that you are going to come in contact with today."
A year ago, before the move, we had all the dwarfs go to our family dentist. Everyone checked out just fine! About four months ago, I noticed that Bashful had some additional "fangs" growing in his mouth over his already in place adult teeth. So, I started working on finding a dentist here in Florida that accepted our insurance, dealt with special needs, and had some good ratings as providers. I called and had to wait many weeks for the appointment... and the day arrived finally.
X-rays are done and we sit in the chair. The hygienist "T" Bibs him up, tips back the chair and so begins the fun. Literally she is not even putting pressure on his gums to brush them and they start to bleed. As a casual observer from the corner, I can see that this is going to only get worse as she is just at the bottom rear of the first side of his mouth. (for the record this dwarf has an incredible tolerance for pain, and a pride-fulness that never allows for him to admit pain or defeat) As T continues to work her magic cleaning his teeth, the blood is flowing freely, and they are having to clean out his mouth often as to keep a clear image of the teeth and the process of cleaning them. Yet the dwarf has yet to flinch even once. I on the other hand am averting my eyes and feeling a bit squeamish.
T gets the job done, and completes his final rinse... how she did it without a flinch or a raised eyeball is beyond me! I am not sure if she was judging me as a parent, but I let her know in the beginning, (as I smiled brightly for her to see my dental hygiene routine was stellar) that Bashful was special, and that we are aware that his mouth has a lot of potential problems, most concerning was the new arrival of the "fangs".
So we get his new toothbrush and toothpaste and floss and wait for the dentist to arrive...
What a delightful woman she is ! She scrubs up and settles in to take a look at the dwarf's mouth - she is reviewing the x-rays and matching up the mouth to the films... calling out the teeth by number and then adding the details of what needs to happen at each one if anything. The progression is shocking as the mom, 9 cavities in total need drilled and filled, 2 of which will most likely need root canals because of the extent of the decay, and two removals (the fangs) as well as a diagnosis of gum disease. Did I mention we are not discussing a 50 year old, but a 12 year old boy?
As the dentist begins to talk to me about the issues. I kindly stop her and instruct her to speak directly to the dwarf in the chair. While I can see that one would assume that the parents are some how at fault or are ignorant of good oral hygiene, the words she was saying as the professional, but not the mom, are words that I say everyday, to him, sometimes multiple times a day which fall on deaf ears, cause significant attitudes, and often times complete meltdowns. Many times a week I hear his response to which is always the same. " I don't want to brush, it is stupid. I do not care if my teeth rot and fall out because I will buy new ones." So I manage to redirect her, by also encouraging her that perhaps hearing it from Dentist, since I sound like Charlie Brown's teacher to him, would make this seem more serious, more pressing.
To her credit she did a good job of discussing the seriousness of the situation with him. He perhaps still did not get what she was saying until she told him that for a few weeks she would like his parents to oversee his brushing and flossing and that if we thought it was beneficial for him, that we should just brush and floss his teeth for him. (that did not sit well with Mr I Can !!) He wanted to make excuses of course and also asked if he could have braces to straighten his teeth, to which she indicated that no one would take the risk of putting braces in his mouth since most of his mouth was rotting. (that was a good shock tactic) Perhaps the final conversation that got his attention was this one:
Dentist: " Do you still think that girls have cooties?"
Dentist: " I see, so you are starting to see that girls are cute and have nice smiles right?"
Dentist: "So the smile is one of the first things you see about someone and it makes a big impact on others... when they see your smile they see gum disease and rotting teeth."
Bashful: "Fine I will stop smiling."
Mom: " I think what the Dentist is saying Bashful, is that when you are able to go on your first date you have to sit at the table and watch her enjoy steak while you sip on soup."
Dentist: " While I have never heard a mom be so blunt, she has a point."
Bashful: " Why can't I have the steak?"
Dentist: "Because if you do not change the way you care for your teeth now, you will either have nothing left in your mouth but your gums, and you can't gum a steak and get it to your belly easily, OR you will have to spend all your money on new teeth, and you can only afford for one of you to eat the steak."
So Bashful has a summer of oral surgeries and procedures in front of him. None of these will be pleasant and while he is a bit freaked out about the root canals and why he can not be put to sleep for them, we indicated that each and every day that he has fought us on proper tooth brushing procedures, refused to do what he is instructed and to do it the right way, he was laying the ground work for this visit to the dentist. This visit today was all about consequences that he has brought on himself. He really should be grateful that we do not require him to get a job to pay for all this dental work!! I think a little discomfort and a couple root canals is more than fair consequences for years defiance, meltdowns, mouthing off and refusal to do one simple hygiene item...
You really can't make this stuff up.... but I am guessing that Bashful wishes that perhaps some of this was an exaggeration.... but it's not!