When I found out my kids had cavities I wanted to cry – I’m not sure if it was the $600+ bill I was looking at that I would ultimately pay out-of-pocket (insurance is a scam) to get their teeth back right – or the guilt I felt like I had failed them as a mother. The dentist sensing how upset I was – tried to reassure me.
“Cavities are so common. There’s so much sugar in everything now.”
Now let me be the first to admit I have a mean sweet tooth. There are some days where candy literally helps me get through them. I honestly believe that sugar is a drug and yes I’ll admit I’m addicted. Instead of coming home to a relaxing glass of wine, I’ll opt for sour gummy worms instead. So it’s only right that my weakness for candy and sweets was passed down to my children. But all this time that I have eaten candy and sweets I have had all of one cavity and that wasn’t until I was at least 16 or 17 years old in high school! I mean I ate so much candy growing up that instead of brushing my teeth sometimes, I would just sneak and eat peppermints as a substitute. (Don’t tell my mama.) When it comes to my heredity sweet tooth –Kayden got it honest. He loves powdered donuts, cookies and of course candy. Powdered donuts being one of his favorites. Just a big smile lights up his face at just the thought of donuts. To hear that my children had cavities I think the tears that were welling up and ready to flow were really because I felt like I had failed them. All this time I felt as if I made them brush their teeth—but obviously not good enough – and not enough. I always made sure they brushed their teeth in the mornings but we may have skipped the bedtime brushing routine here and there. I also felt as if we were pretty healthy when it came to our diet choices. I have always tried to steer clear of high fructose corn syrup. I thought I was doing the right thing by picking up 100% juice. I remember reading a book awhile back about the food industry and how top food executives actually held meetings to decide on how to get Americans hooked to unhealthy foods. It was really an eye-opener for me – and a good read.
But despite all of my so-called knowledge– my kids still had multiple cavities. There was also something else that came to mind – the lack of dental visits my kids have had over the years. Kura is 5. Kayden is 3. And when the dentist asked me when were their last visits I honestly couldn’t remember. What I do remember is calling around several years ago trying to find them a dentist – receptionists weren’t really welcoming or helpful. They were shocked that I was calling for what were a 1 and 3 year old at the time. It was as if I was calling too soon. They made me feel as if my children were too young to go to a dentist. So I figured well they are kids – they’ll be okay. And I left it at that.
Wrong. I had to learn the hard and expensive way. The enamel on a child’s teeth is a lot thinner than adult teeth, which is what makes them a lot more susceptible to cavities. The amount of sugar in everyday products is another problem.
I went through the store and checked out some common items that I’m sure most households have.
One shocker; applesauce. The “regular kind” has high fructose corn syrup. Why the hell does applesauce need an artificial sweetening syrup? Shouldn’t applesauce just be made from you know — apples?! The food industry is getting out of hand. The “natural” kind of applesauce does not have the high fructose corn syrup – and has 11 grams of sugar. The “regular kind” has twice as much, with 22 grams. Now remember this amount of sugar is referring to the serving size which is that tiny ass cup of applesauce.
I went through some of the cereals and surprisingly a lot of my kids favorite cereals like Honey Nut Cheerios and even Cinnamon Toast Crunch didn’t have as much sugar as I thought. Just 9 grams of sugar each! But that’s where things get tricky — that’s based on the serving size, which unless you are a damn Stepford wife you are not meticulously measuring out bowls of cereal. I usually will give Kayden more than Kura (he eats like a grown man already, I’m screwed). So to be honest, my kids could really be eating 2-3 servings, which could equal out to 27 grams of sugar! But think about how close that is to the tiny ass cup of applesauce with high fructose corn syrup!
The moral of my story is that while sure cavities can be repaired and fixed. All of this could have been avoided on my part. I still feel bad and as if I totally missed the mark on this one, but I have definitely learned a very important lesson. Instead of being complacent and accepting people’s notion that my children didn’t need dentists, I should have been calling my insurance company to find one — or better yet make them tell my why I’m paying for dental benefits when no one will service my children. I should have fought harder against all the urges to say yes when my children begged for candy and the thought of two seconds of peace seemed worth it all. No matter what it is or how small it may seem–always fight for your children.