Monday, February 16, 2009

National Dental Health Month

Did you know that February is National Dental Health Month? Neither did I until my weekly specials link to a major online child-product retailer filled me in. So I quickly made an appointment for Fletcher's first trip to see the dentist. I mean, not seeing the dentist in February, during National Dental Health Month, would be un-American, right?

Actually, I have wanted to take Fletcher to the dentist for months now (in general, but also because of a brown spot on one of his incisors), but we failed to add him to our dental insurance last January, and based on articles like this one which indicate that prematurity can lead to a number of dental problems, I was afraid once we went in for an appointment we would leave with thousands of dollars of dental work to do. So, in my warped reality, it is better not to know what bad shape your kids teeth are in until you can pay for the work to be done, rather than get the diagnosis and then have to wait for the insurance coverage.

So, Fletcher's dental insurance coverage kicked in on January 1st, and we made an appointment early this month with a pediatric dentist. After all, I want a dentist familiar with working with kids, and the one we scheduled also has experience with kids with special needs.

The morning did not start off well. Trevor had planned to be home in the morning and was leaving to catch a flight at noon. Unfortunately, due to weather and loads and other pilot-type stuff, he had to catch the 9 am flight, which meant that I was flying solo. Not a huge deal, I am used to Trevor being gone, only I forgot to bring the stroller and it is not fun trying to deal with new-patient paperwork one-handed. Also, because I didn't have the extra pair of hands, their are no cute "first-time-at-the-dentist" photos.

The string of bad luck continued as I sat in the waiting room and the receptionist informed me that I have a dental HMO and can only see my primary dentist. I had been so focused on choosing the right health insurance plan for our family, that I completely ignored the dental options and chose the cheapest. I didn't even know that there were dental HMOs. So, now the dentist I had been waiting nearly a year to see wasn't even covered by our insurance. Ugh. Luckily, a routine appointment was only $40, so I decided to just go through with it and brace for the worst, and if the worst came to be and Fletcher needed thousands of dollars of dental work, we could change plans in June (when the baby is born, which would be an adequate "life event" to warrant a change in coverage).

We are called back and the dentist has me sit on a stool with Fletcher sitting on my lap facing toward me, with his legs on either side of my hips. Then the dentist sat on a stool facing us and I just lowered Fletcher down so his head was in the dentists lap. This worked like a charm and Fletcher tolerated a good five minutes of probing and scratching. This guy really was a pro (if you live in KC and want a good pediatric dentist recommendation, let me know). He took the little hook tool and scratched the little spot on Fletcher's incisor and I was in shock as the stain lifted and his tooth was completely white (I have scrubbed and scratched on that spot countless times with no luck). He explained to me that what I was sure was a cavity or at least missing enamel was actually rough enamel that just holds on to particles and becomes discolored.

Then he told me to increase brushing his teeth from once to two times a day and that he'd see me in six months. What? I was sure that he had missing enamel or worse, and this dentist is just telling me to be extra diligent in brushing... wow! So, that is it. The rough enamel does have a higher propensity to hold food, and therefore decay, but otherwise we had an uneventful appointment. I was shocked. You maybe be thinking, what's the big deal, he went to the dentist and his teeth are okay. But, unless you are a mom to a special needs kids, you do not understand how exciting it is to go to an appointment (albeit dental vs. medical) and have the professional tell you your kid (or in this case, your kid's teeth) is typical. That you don't have another appointment, or procedure, or condition to worry about. Seriously, it is the best feeling!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Happy for you - and knowing how much it means.

Very cute! (last post)