May 10, 2012 · 5:54 pm

Nati didn’t get any teeth until he was a year old.  Actually, his first tooth finally cut through when he fell and hit his gums on a coffee table.  His front teeth grew, and grew, and grew, until he looked like an adorable little rabbit.  

And by the time he was 18 months, he had his first cavities.  I don’t know how it happened, but one day, I went to brush the food residue from his two front teeth near his gums, and it wasn’t food residue.  They were “decalcifications”…so basically, cavities that hadn’t fully hit puberty yet.

I called my mom and cried on the phone. I called my sister and cried on the phone. I called Yohannes at work, and told him very solemnly that I had bad news.  He thought someone had died.

The dentist was a really nice guy, and tried not to make me feel too bad about it.  He said it was in the very early stages, and instead of fillings, they could just grind away some of the tooth so that it had a smooth surface and wouldn’t catch food and bacteria.

So he went from rabbit teeth, to this:

I was so disappointed when I saw the tiny, spaced-out little stubs that were left, but they grew on me they grew.  Soon they were just about has big as before.  If they had never been shaved down, he would have looked like a saber tooth…er…rabbit.  Just in time for his second birthday, he fell, and killed the root in one tooth.  He had to get a crown.

So this poor kid, who was nervous about doctors in the first place because of his heart surgery, in the span of six months had to have two dental procedures.  Dental procedures on toddlers are not pretty.  So when his 2.5 year checkup came around, I told Yohannes it would probably make more sense for me to keep the baby while he took Nati.  (I’m noticing a theme here of getting Yohannes to do all the hard stuff.)  It didn’t go well.  Nati cried when the dental hygienist cleaned his teeth. Most little kids probably do.  But the moment he saw the dentist, he became uncontrollably and inconsolably hysterical.

I’ve always thought the fear of dentists was somewhat overdone and irrational.  But if your earliest memories are of a dentist grinding away at your teeth, who could blame you?  We go back in six months.  What can I do to ease the fear?

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