Wednesday, October 16, 2019

When you refuse to brush your teeth...

I have this dwarf, and he refuses to brush his teeth.  I can't recall exactly when it started, however he has had, for at least two years, shown increasing and advanced stages of gingivitis at the ripe old age of 17.

I have tried all the tactics I can think of to encourage him to brush, and not a thing works.  As a matter of fact, he will go to extremes to pretend to brush, all the while never doing more than putting a wet toothpaste covered brush in his mouth, spitting and rinsing.

At each dental appointment, things keep getting worse, yet even in that, he is still refusing to brush or to take the necessary steps to help combat his severe gingivitis and potential tooth decay.

Last month I took him for his dental check up.  I was told that because he was a minor that I had to stay at the office while he was in the chair. (I had hoped to run a few errands because I knew it would be a while.)

Since I was not able to leave, I situated myself in the lobby with my book and started my long wait.  Fifteen minutes into the wait, the hygienist comes out to me and says, " Mom, we have a problem."  I sort of roll my eyes in my head and think, "no kidding".

I ask her politely, what the problem is.  She indicates that said dwarf is refusing to open his mouth.  Shocked, (not really) I ask why.   She tells me that as she was water picking his mouth and counting his teeth, that his gums had started to bleed, and he is in pain and is refusing to open his mouth, so she would like my permission to give him some numbing pain relief.  Which of course is going to cost me X amount of dollars.

Now I roll my eyes for real, thinking she has to be kidding me.  But she is not.  I authorize the numbing agent, and as she is preparing to walk away, tell her that if needles are involved, she could do it twice, and I would happily pay for once on the top row of teeth and once on the bottom.  Sadly for me, it was just a numbing rub.

I settle back into my reading and am just getting to the good part, and she is back.  "Um, excuse me, mom... we have another problem."  Really?  I am almost 50 and I have never ever ever, had problems at my cleanings.

Oh, right.  I brush, regularly, and with enthusiasm, as this is my free gift to all I come in contact with each day!

Now she goes on to explain that they have to irrigate his mouth with antibiotics, as the bleeding is continuing and spreading harmful bacteria throughout his mouth. Geez, I think to myself.  All this because he refuses to brush his teeth....

Fine (and of course there is a fee for this as well) they irrigate his mouth.  An hour and a half later, the cleaning, numbing and irrigation, and I would venture to say  what he thinks has been torture, is over, and my purse is much lighter.  As we are leaving they admonish him to do a better job at his oral hygiene and that he needs to do a salt water rinse every day two - three times a day to help heal up his gums. 

As I am leaving the dentist office,  I turn and ask them, how much it would cost to have him come every month for a tooth cleaning.  " What ?" they ask.   A teeth cleaning.  If I bring the dwarf that refuses to brush his teeth (and knowing that, he will also NEVER rinse with salt water) every thirty days for a cleaning, what would the cost or the fee for that service be?

$50.  $50 is not too high of a price to assist in helping my dwarf, who will not help himself, try to keep and maintain his teeth until he at least reaches the age of 18.

So in another week we have a one month cleaning appointment.  Even though he has the knowledge of said appointment, he has not rinsed with the salt water unless I have made it, and by rinse I mean he takes a swing and spits. (no swishing, no gurgling, not getting throughout the entire mouth.) and his oral hygiene has gotten no better. 

Maybe the monthly torture sessions, I mean visits in the dentist chair, will eventually lead to the desired result, him owning his poor habits, changing them, and saving his teeth and gums... but then again, maybe not.

Know this, I will not be paying for numbing and irrigation for the "standard" monthly cleaning.  He has all the power and knowledge to fix this, or at least make it better, and his refusal to do the basics, means the same for myself.  I am committing to the basics, in the hope that he tires of his time in the chair, and the pain, and gets motivated himself to do what needs to be done!

PS- If there was a little bit of, peer pressure, aka kids making fun, like 35-40 years ago when I was in school,  I venture to say, (of course no one knows for sure), that none of this would be an issue for the dwarf.


  1. For what it is worth, I think you are doing all that you can or even should be doing. He is nearly an adult (Legally) and is able to understand every aspect of this issue. It literally comes down to it being a matter of his choosing. All you realistically can do is talk to him, and recap where things stand, and offer to help him change his ways, if or when he is willing. And he may not change anytime soon, if ever. My only suggestion is that you might try buying a kids toothpaste, because minty ones can irritate the mouth. I can't stand minty toothpaste; It burns my gums while I use it, and for quite a while after. The kids paste is more gentle, and if his mouth is already hurting, starting with a no-burn product might help. Of course, not unless he chooses to use it. By the way, you really ROCK this parenting gig!!!

  2. Oh... It never occurred to me that the mint may be causing pain, I will get some kids flavored toothpaste for him, it may help. At this point I am not going out of my way, but at some point will be at a store and can do that... Thanks for the encouragement, this is not at all what I thought life would be like, but I am plugging along... one day at a time!

  3. If it were me, I wouldn't pay $50.00 a month. When he turns 18, let him pay the bill for what it costs to get the situation taken care of (ex. pull the teeth and get false teeth.