Wednesday, December 29, 2010

365 Days a Year, We Floss

Every day, since my daughter has had teeth, I have brushed them. As a little one, fine motor delays made it necessary for me to do it for her. I'd give her a crack at it, then go over them myself. After her first dental appointment in which I had to peel her from the ceiling, we knew it was vital for us to keep at it, going over her teeth every day, keeping them very clean. God forbid she'd ever need a cavity filled; not with her kind of anxiety. We still go over them twice day after she's brushed and we floss her teeth once every evening. 

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At the dentist last week, Riley sat in the chair, being brave. This is her third time in this particular office, and before her first appt. I pre-paved, informing the dentist about Riley's anxiety and sensory issues. This time, Riley blurted out "WAIT!" a few times. She said, "OH NO!" once or twice. But she really did well.

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At one point, the dentist pulled out a line of floss and asked "Are you flossing every day?" I answered, "Yes. I floss her teeth every day." Riley nodded. 

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The dentist began flossing, and Riley said, "Ow!" 
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Smugly, the dentist said, "The fact that she's saying ow tells me you aren't flossing everyday."
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"She says ow every day," I said, arms folded, glaring at the dentist. 
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It seems trivial, but her casual remark really pissed me off. Ten years old, and the child has never had a cavity. Because of my effort.
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How hard would it have been to look at her teeth and say something nice? 
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To all the special needs parents who willingly, lovingly give so much of themselves...to any parent who feels unrecognized for your efforts, big and small, I honor you.
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Namaste.
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Michelle O’Neil has contributed to A Cup of Comfort for Parents of Children with Autism, and Special Gifts: Women Writers on the Heartache, the Happiness and the Hope of Raising a Special Needs Child. She has written for Literary Mama, The Imperfect ParentAge of AutismThe Bark! and Sensory Integration Special Interest Section (SISIS) Quarterly Newsletter, a professional journal for occupational therapists.

7 comments:

  1. To that dentist, I say, are you friggen' kidding me? It's not PAIN or unhealthy gums making her say ow! It's anxiety. Visual examination alone should have shown him the care that has been given to Riley's oral health. I honor your efforts. I know how difficult it is. I KNOW.

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  2. How hard, indeed? This reminds me that we all have an option everyday to lift people up, or try to trip them up. How will *I* choose today? Not to be this dentist...
    The fact that I am still dealing with a tooth that was never taken care of in childhood, because I didn't have a mom like you who would go so far to take care of me, just makes me love you all the more. You are a GREAT mom, not just a good one. A great one.
    love

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  3. Hmmm--flossing? I'm supposed to do that with my daughter?

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  4. I'm so glad we have a good dentist...who didn't judge us when my daughter had 8 (yes 8) cavities. We do brush every day, but had not been flossing - didn't know we needed to, but her teeth are so close together that they do need it, so now we do. You would think knowing your kid is 10 and has no cavities should be enough to tell the dentist that you're doing a good job.

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  5. Argh! I can completely understand your frustration! You are a great Mom, and doing way better at the whole teeth brushing & flossing than I am!

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  6. Namaste to you, my friend. Dentist sounds like she needs some social skills training. ;)

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