Monday, October 16, 2006

In the Denist's Chair

Today I went to the dentist. The dental hygienist told me:
  • to floss more (big surprise -- I get that every time)
  • night feedings can cause tooth decay once babies have teeth (Swee'pea has 2 teeth)
  • I'm supposed to be brushing Swee'pea's teeth already
I discovered something else for the first time. When you are getting your teeth cleaned you are at the complete mercy of the hygienist. She can subject you to all kinds of verbal torment (to say nothing of the other oral torments). Usually the hygienist chats away about something we may have in common. Typically I enjoy the one-sided chat, or at least I don't mind it, and even contribute my own thoughts here and there when the sharp instruments are removed from my mouth. But not today. Today I was subjected to the thoughts of one [relatively ignorant] mother on how to deal with sleep issues. Which is funny [peculiar not ha ha] because although I have been obsessed with these sleep issues and solving them in the past, I am no longer. I accept that I have a wakeful baby with an intensely curious, sociable and cheerful nature who cannot bear to be left out. I accept that it will likely be years before he sleeps through the night, and probably longer than that before I do. So now we're just in survival mode, or as Bubandpie calls it, "do whatever makes life easier now and let later worry about itself." If you wanted to get all new-agey about it, you could also call it In the Moment Parenting.

When I told the hygienist that Swee'pea is a very wakeful baby and that he sleeps with us and therefore has free access to the tooth-rotting, all-night milk bar, she assumed that it was making me miserable. What I would have said if she hadn't been wielding sharp implements in my mouth follows.

She said, "Don't worry, it gets better." (I'm actually just fine with the way things are. We've figured out how to make things work for our family.)

And "Have you read any books?" (Oh, honey, I think I've just about read them all.)

"Because I read one book and decided not to read any others because I really needed a clear head." (That's a clear head??)

"The one book I read that worked for me was The Baby Whisperer." (I hated that book. It made me feel guilty for our in the moment parenting philosophy, and the author's not even a parent. I won't link to the Amazon page for the book, because in my opinion it is a Bad Book.)

"Have you tried putting him in the crib?" (Yes, we did for months and it was making us all miserable. We've been much happier since we stopped trying.)

"Have you tried lately? You could try again." (No thanks.)

"I have a friend who slept with her son until he was about a year, then she started putting him in the crib. So your son will probably sleep in the crib then." (I actually like sleeping with him. I know that around 4 months I was desperate to get him to sleep in the crib, but I like sleeping with him now. I think we may do it until he's ready for a toddler bed.)

She said more annoying stuff while she poked and prodded my gums but this is just getting boring. I think I may be developing a fear of dentists now.

Oh yeah - and in the spirit of In the Moment Parenting, we may be able to put something in the boy's mouth and make some actions resembling brushing his teeth, but we will definitely not be giving up those night feedings yet. I mean, those teeth aren't even permanent. How important can they be?

* * *

In other news, I'm starting to get more excited about our upcoming trip to South Africa. We already almost have our flights booked. While looking for accommodation I found this unfortunate wording:
... lovely sunny lounge and Victorian fireplace, quaint dining alcove and well-fitted kitchenette oozes old world charm with modern conveniences...
I have an old house. I know how old world charm can ooze. And I don't think I want that on vacation.


penelopeto said...

I absolutely hate it when people act like having a family bed is a problem waiting to be solved.

yes, like you state in your next post, sometimes you are clinging to 5 inches of bed while baby sleeps sideways. yes, night feedings are frequent, as the lovely booby smell is never far off, and yes, the mattress has to be on the floor, like we are back in university and broke the futon during rambunctious sex. (er, maybe that was just me)

but really, what parent does not experience their share of nighttime woes? they come and go, and there is always a trade off. when people try to 'solve' our bedsharing choice, i just ask them if they think bee is a happy, well-adjusted, secure, healthy baby. since the answer is 'yes,' i must be doing something right.

and forget the hygenist for now - i had one suggest that i wipe out bee's mouth after every night feeding - as if! instead we gave her a toothbrush with some weleda's milk tooth gel to suck on and get her used to it. i'm sure swee'pea will love it as much as bee does.

penelopeto said...

p.s. not to be morbid, but the baby whisperer is dead. so her advice is bad as well as soon to be outdated.

mad_hatter said...

A couple of things. First off I don't think you need to worry too much about night feedings until Swee'pea has molars. The other teeth should be fine as long as you wipe them with a cloth or a finger toothbrush one a day (and no that doesn't have to be in the middle of the night). We did this with Miss M and gave her her first real toothbrush in her stocking at Christmas when she was 11 months old. We have been brushing her teeth one or twice a day with it since.

Miss M was on the bottle until 15 months and always had a before bed bottle without brushing her teeth afterwards. When I asked my dentist about it she seemed ok with it as long as it didn't go on too long after the molars came in.

The first teeth might not be all that important, as you say, but keep in mind how hellish it would be to have to strap Swee'pea into a dentist's chair at 3 for a filling. This happened to my little brother and it wasn't nice.

On a separate topic, if you don't know about the Sweet Juniper blog and it's archived Sleep Wars Trilogy, go check it out. It is one of the most informed and funny things I have read on the topic of sleep. The blog is at and the Sleep Wars Trilogy can be found under the Classic Rock heading on the side bar.

bubandpie said...

Look how late I am, commenting on this post. I tried to subscribe to you through Bloglines, but the feed doesn't seem to be working. What up with that?

Anyhow, I've always been amazed that The Baby Whisperer has such a good reputation, because as far as I could tell, her book was exactly the same as Baby Wise, and if you even mention that you've read Baby Wise people start reporting you to CAS. Now, apparently, the edition of BW I read was the updated version where they took out all the stuff that, you know, kills the babies, but still.