Dental Drama~Parenting Lessons Learned the Hard Way

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Well, the last couple of weeks have been fun…no that’s not it, interesting…still not quite right, dramatic…yes, that’s it!  The past couple weeks have been dramatic and quite emotional for this mommy.
Here is what happened….
After two and a half years since our last visit I decided it was time to go see the dentist.  Now, like quite a few people I know, we don’t have dental insurance.  So I shopped around for a good deal that many dentists will offer to new clients.  I called up what looked like a very reputable dentist and made appointments for myself, my husband, and Big Brother.  This would be Big Brother’s first visit to the dentist. 
Big Brother had a great time watching a movie on the big TV in the cleaning room while the hygienist cleaned his teeth!  He thought the camera they stuck in his mouth to take pictures of his teeth was “real cool”.  What was not really cool was how many cavities they said both he and I had and how much it would cost to fill them all.  As far as the cost went, well, you could purchase a used car for the cost of all the work this dentist wanted to do! 
Seriously?!  Is there a faster way to make someone feel like they are being taken advantage of than to say, “Hi, I know I just met you and that you are a new patient and all, and I know that I only took x-rays of a few of your teeth and just took pictures of the rest, but would you please pay me several thousand dollars so that I can put a fillings in every single one of your teeth.”  Um, no. 
He wanted to do two root canals on Big Brother and give him 4 other fillings!  He’s only three and a half!  
At this point I was really less outraged about the cost and more depressed about what a bad mom I must have been for my child to have this many cavities at such a young age (I don’t think I had any cavities until I was a teenager).  I’m sorry I only brushed his teeth once a day!  I’m sorry that we gave him lots of juice–this one however, was not my fault.  Big Brother was so skinny and so picky about what he ate and drank that the doctor told us to give him more juice for the calories.  I’ve learned my lesson on that one.
Once I’d recovered a bit from the shock I decided we needed a second opinion and we were fortunate enough to find a dentist who did them for free.  This dentist had much better tidings for my teeth, however he said that Big Brother’s two molars (the ones the other dentist wanted to do the root canals on) would have to be removed.  OH NO!!!  Now my child is going to be without molars for the next ten years!
So what did I do but seek a THIRD opinion.  (By now Big Brother was totally skilled in the art of opening his mouth on command while patiently letting the dentist poke around.)  While I was calling around for another dentist that I could take him to a receptionist suggested we take him to a pediatric dentist.  They see little kids all the time and know best what to do in tricky situations.  I found a pediatric dentist I knew absolutely nothing about, made an appointment for the following day, and hoped for the best.
Holy Cow!  Not only was the office amazing, but the staff was amazing, and the dentist was amazing.  They were all so friendly and the dentist took quite a bit of time going over the x-rays, looking at Big Brother’s teeth, and explaining everything to me.  It turns out that Big Brother will not be needing any teeth pulled, will not need any root canals, and will only need four fillings (as opposed to the original six). 
I’m still sad that he needs any fillings at all, but I’ve learned my lessons. 1) Lots of brushing even for the little ones. 2) Be wary of dentists who hand you a bill that equals the cost of a small car.  3) Don’t hesitate to seek a second opinion.


About Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom

Amy is mom to three, wife to one, and a sister and aunt to many. Her family is a former military family now settled in Lehi, Utah. Oh So Savvy Mom began as a way for Amy to share parenting and product advice with others. Just as she has evolved, Oh So Savvy Mom has evolved into a resource for Healthy Living for Families, Food, Parenting, and Family Travel.


  1. I think all your lessons are true. So far so good with us (my girls are 4 and 6). We use homemade toothpaste, for the most part, and I brush their teeth at least once a day. They brush their own teeth all the rest of the times throughout the day. Since my 4 year old has expanders, sometimes her teeth are brushed 4 times in a day.

    Glad that you didn't take the 1st dentist's word for it. I probably would have and had the bad results that you avoided.

    My only suggestion is that you don't skip twice yearly appointments. Even when I didn't have the insurance I paid out of pocket. For me (which I can't say this would be true today, since my situation has changed), it was better to pay and know that my teeth were okay and to know where to concentrate to avoid the costly fixes. I'm afraid to have work done on my teeth because of the pain and the cost. So my point was to try to avoid the cost of the work by getting the regular checkups.


    I'm curious to know how little your little guy is. My soon-to-be-5-year-old weighs 32 lbs as of last Thursday.
  2. I totally know what you mean. I've learned my lesson. :) You don't mess with the teeth! Big Brother is 3.5 years, is in the 50th percentile for height and weighs 32 lbs. so he's still on the charts, but he's thin. Not as thin as your little guy it seems.
  3. Yeah, I have learned that there are many different types of dentists, just like there are many different types of every other type of doctor. If you have a dentist that wants to fill every single cavity in your mouth you are in for a big surprise. Pretty much every tooth will have some wear and tear on it without putting the tooth in any sort of danger. There are dentists that want you to have a perfect mouth and there are dentists that don't really follow technology and could be missing a lot of things, and there and everyother type in between.

    So, I totally agree with you. If you are really surprised, or uneasy about what you are told (from the dentist or any other doctor, talk to more until you feel comfortable, not meaning until you hear what you want, but until you feel like your concerns have been addressed).
  4. You know what, even lots of brushing doesn't do the trick sometimes. Some kids are just prone to the bacteria that eats away at the enamel (am I impressing you with my knowledge?)
    I have four kids. Some were obsessed with oral care, others, not so much. And you know what, they all had cavities by the time they were four.
    Don't beat yourself up. You are actually taking the time to give a crap about their teeth. That's terrific...ok, now I'm climbing off my soap box...
  5. Thank you for sharing. I think the lesson I learned was to take kids to a pediatric dentist.
  6. Yuck! My kids see a peditrician, but if I had to switch to a family doctor I wouldn't freak out. However, a pediatric dentist is a must. That's just one thing that needs to be more specialized! Sorry about your bad experience!

    BTW, our peds dentist says every six months. Yikes. I'm lucky to be able to schedule four appointments and make them once a year. :)
  7. Thanks for sharing, Amy. We were so sad for him when we found out, but I am glad it's all going to work out OK.

    Which dentist did you go to first? I went to one a few years ago to get my wisdom teeth pulled, and right before they were about to start working they informed me that the fillings that I had had done not even a year before were no good and had to be replaced. Right then. Even though they had told me at my previous appointment that nothing more needed to be done. To this day I am convinced that there was nothing wrong and that they managed to swindle me out of a couple of hundred dollars. I am so mad at myself that I let them go ahead with it, and I wish I had have had the presence of mind to get a second opinion. Needless to say, we have a new dentist now.
  8. Oh my gosh, that is so crazy! I can't believe the first one wanted to give a 3 year old root canals!!! That is ridiculous! I'm so glad you got the 2nd and 3rd opinions. We haven't taken Avery to the dentist yet, after all she only has about half a tooth but we will definitely be going to a pediatric dentist!
  9. Cassandra Eastman says
    Wow, you have no idea how much better this post makes me feel. We just took our 4 year old to the dentist a little over a week ago, he hasn't complained about any tooth pains... we've always been good about brushing and not too many sweets. The dentist said 'One tooth needs pulled which also requires a spacer, he needs 4 caps, and some fillings!'. The total bill he gave us was over $4,000 dollars. I was in tears, first thinking we were horrible parents and second there is no WAY we can afford that! We are seeking other opinions now, and i'll definitely look into finding a pediatric dentist. Thank you!
  10. We have a pediatric dentist for my boys and he goes crazy on the fillings and oulling of teeth and such, so don't always trust a pediatric dentist either :/ but, don't feel bad about tooth care. No matter what our dentist tells us to do, we still end up with problem teeth. I think it has a lot more to do with genetics than what you eat and drink. I know people who drink sugary drinks like they're going out of style and they never hae cavities---i greatly dislike those people haha!