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My Kid Got a Cavity and I Felt Like a Failure

Baby's First Cavity“Brush your teeth, Noah! You don’t want to get a cavity!”

We used that line quite often during the kicking-and-screaming-to-the-bathroom part of bedtime. So often, in fact, that I wondered whether we’d give him a complex with our, “CAVITIES?! AHHHH!” paranoia tactic. We just wanted him to open his mouth for us, not to be permanently terrified of getting a cavity. Because what if he actually got one? Would he spaz out in a panic, repeating the word “needle” under his breath?

**Cut to the dentist’s chair.**

“Well it looks like Noah has a tiny cavity in his molar,” the young-looking dentist uncomfortably announced after a round of teeth X-rays.

“I’m sorry; excuse me? Cavity? He has a cavity?” I interrupted.

I saw my little boy’s eyes widen, but it didn’t go much further than that. He was a pretty cool cucumber about the reality that THE WORST THING TO EVER HAPPEN HAS HAPPENED. OH MY GOSH, A CAVITY?!?!!?

Nope, it was me freaking out. I worried all the way until his next appointment, when the cavity would actually be filled.

I worried about the laughing gas — considering his body has never been exposed to as much as antibiotics. How would he react to it?

I worried about him panicking mid-way through the ordeal, sparking a life-long fear of the dentist. (And isn’t the sound of the tools, the sight of the needle, scary enough?)

I worried about it all.

The one thing I wasn’t prepared for is just how heart-wrenching it is to watch your baby lying there helpless, breathing in laughing gas with his mouth propped open, stuffed with noisy tools.

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Ooph. My heart.

Beyond all of that, I felt this nagging embarrassment and guilt about my preschooler getting a cavity. This had to be my fault. Could I have brushed his teeth better? Is he eating too many sweets? Have I not taken his oral health seriously enough?

I didn’t take into consideration the natural deep grooves in his molars, which made cavities more of an inevitability than a possibility.

I didn’t take into consideration that he’d be totally, completely fine throughout the (LONG!) procedure.

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After all of that worrying, watching, and guilt-tripping, we made it out on the other side. No complaints, no panicking, no crying. Not a single tear was shed! (Although, I’ll be honest, I had to choke back my own.)

Maybe we are just harder on ourselves than we need to be. Maybe these types of situations aren’t as bad as we blow them up to be.

Or maybe I’m just lucky he didn’t catch a glimpse of that needle!

 

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