A Father's War On Cavities

Dental flashbacks: I was a dentally stubborn child. Dramatic, to be more specific. Dr. Steigner was his name, and the very smell of his office combined with the mechanical zzzzzzz sound of dental tools set me into a sweaty panic. Every. Time. No offense to Dr. Steigner; he was a nice man with a thriving practice, who took his staff annually to Hawaii. But, every one of my trips to his office was essentially just a pre-booking for my return visit to fill a cavity. Other kids left their chairs only to take a Polaroid picture in front of the “No Cavities!” sign. I simply grabbed my Yo-Yo and begged my mom not to take me back. The struggle was real. And expensive.

It’s all about the genes: It wasn’t that I didn’t brush my teeth, so you can scrap that assumption. Before twelve, I wasn’t allowed to watch television, let alone, eat sugar. But apparently, as I have been informed multiple times, I have “weak” teeth. That said, I am pleased to announce that I have genetically passed on to Elle both my “weak” teeth and dentally- dramatic-patient-profile. Life, you’re a funny one! It was a slow crescendo of visits that finally reached its tipping point during Elle’s cleaning and checkup. After a tearful hour, eerily similar to my own as a young child, Elle left with floss, toothpaste, a balloon and four cavities. My prize: a bill bigger than I would care to foot, and based on her dentally-dramatic-patient-profile, four separate trips to the dentist to have them filled. I mean, come on!

Have Internet, will Google: Parenting through moments like these is the reason Google is the end-all-be-all. So, after the laughing gas kicked in during cavity-filling trip three, I set out to find something, anything, to help my fight in the war against “weak” teeth and out of pocket dental co-pays. Low and behold, the Internet delivered, and it wasn’t even a meme. Quickly in my search, I found an article in the Wall Street Journal about a “green” toothpaste. As easily-influenced-by-good-intentions consumers, my wife and I have a weakness for anything with the words all natural, plant-based or gluten-free. Bingo! And so, when I discovered Plaque HD, the dental Heavens cried out with joy. Seriously, though, it was a game changer.

Getting my teeth dirty in the name of parenting: You see, Elle’s dilemma is parallel with my own was as a child. It was not that she isn’t brushing her teeth, she is; I help her. It’s that she essentially has to brush like a Grade A champ just to stave off cavities. And yes, I help her brush, but honestly, how can I actually tell if it’s working? Full disclosure, it took a bit of coaxing to get her to use it at first, as it didn’t have cartoon characters all over it. But as soon as I smeared it on my own teeth and she saw it attach itself to any and all plague in my mouth, it was game on. Who can get the green out first? It was kind of like that weird tasting red tab my mom would cram in my mouth to look for plaque, minus the cramming of the weird red tab. Using Plaque HD gives you what I call camo-teeth; your teeth look as they normally do, except where there’s plaque, there’s green. And no one wants to leave the bathroom, let alone the house, with camo-teeth.

Happy wallet, happy dad: Not to sound too money-obsessed, but dental bills are no joke. Each visit to fill a cavity is a few hundred dollars. This is hard-earned money that could be spent paying for her piano lessons, a family dinner out, or after school care. Whatever the case, I’m happy to report that we’ve made significant progress on the war against cavities. Yes, the financial savings are great; but what’s better, is Elle can now brush her teeth, like a dentally typical child, sans the micromanagement of her dad. Gone are the evenings spent issuing idle threats regarding future cavities while I frustratingly waving her red Elmo toothbrush. Gone are the tears of dread as we approach the dental chair (minus my own internal tears associated with Dr. Steigner). Plaque HD is legit. And as a dad of a dentally stubborn child, a must have.

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