Nobody likes going to the dentist. They are modern day sadists. That’s why dentists have such a high suicide rate. If Sweeney Todd could have passed differential calculus, I’m sure he would have been a dentist.
Dylan has been to the dentist exactly twice since his diagnosis – six months ago and again this summer. Neither time was good. Both times were bad. So bad, some have compared it to the finale of Lost. If you’re wondering who “some” is, it’s me. On a scale of experiences where dining at a posh restaurant is one and giving birth without an epidural is ten, taking Dylan to the dentist comes in at a solid 8. So imagine my delight upon hearing the news that Dylan will have to come back for check-ups every month for the next few months. Insert profanities here.
What’s up with this kid’s grill?
There are a number of factors that have contributed to the mess currently going on inside Dylan’s mouth. There are three main reasons why his mouth is in the state it’s in. Two of those reasons could be viewed as occurring directly as a result of parental negligence and one of the reasons highlights my parenting prowess. I’m banking on the fact that a lot of narcoleptics are reading this blog post so I’m going to start with the third reason first, in the hopes that most of the readers will fall asleep before getting to the end of this post and learning of my delinquency.
For over a year, Dylan has been very low on iron. Initially, his excessive daytime sleepiness and protruding tongue were attributed to iron deficiency which is known to cause fatigue and tongue swelling. It seemed to be a plausible explanation but sadly ended up being his most minor issue. Turns out the iron deficiency was just a happy coincidence at the same time he was developing narcolepsy and suffering from sleep apnea as a result of enlarged tonsils. The sleepy man’s trifecta. Impeccable timing anemia.
The cure to low iron is, in theory, relatively simple – elemental iron supplements. But nothing is simple with a narcoleptic three year old. As I mentioned in one of my other blogs, since Dylan is too young to swallow a pill, he takes a liquid form of iron. Like an austere young Bordeaux, iron is a blend of bitter and earthy undertones with a mineral aroma and a pungent metallic aftertaste. It’s repulsive. Among the fun side effects of iron like constipation and vomiting, when taken in a liquid form, one of the most common side effects is a yellowing of the teeth. As a result, Dylan requires extra cleaning.
From my narcissistic vantage point, the more yellow his teeth, the more triumphant I have been. Getting iron into this kid is no small feat. If his teeth are yellow, I’ve done my job.
Narcoleptics, this would be a great time to fall asleep
The other two reasons for his sad chompers can be linked directly to parental laziness. Like many narcoleptics, Dylan wakes up frequently at night. For a long time, the only way we could get him back to sleep was by giving him some warm milk. That was our first mistake. Our second mistake was walking back to bed like a zombie before Dylan finished his milk, neglecting to brush his teeth afterwards. I’d like to say this was a frequent occurrence but the truth is it was an always occurrence.
The second parental failure is our inability to brush this kid’s teeth for longer than ten seconds. He is a fighter, he is strong and he has this annoying habit of collapsing every time we try to get him to do something he doesn’t want to do. I have dubbed this “convenient cataplexy” akin to selective hearing. We spend an hour fighting to get inside his mouth to deposit mass amounts of medicine. Then we have to do it all over again, morning and night, when we brush his teeth. They say you have to pick your battles but we really should have been fighting this on both fronts.
The First Visit
The first visit we had to the dentist post-diagnosis was for a routine semi-annual cleaning and exam. I brought Rylie and Dylan at the same time and ran from room to room like a character from a bad 80s sit-com pretending to have a twin sister. Predictable as always, Rylie was an angel and Dylan was a pint-sized Lucifer. He refused to open his mouth, he kicked and cried but finally he fell asleep in the chair. His hygienist took advantage of his slumber and started cleaning his teeth. Thinking things were finally under control in his room, I walked over to check on Ry. Five minutes later, we hear the loudest, scariest blood curdling scream I’ve ever heard in my life followed by the somehow familiar sound of dental tools crashing to the ground. That was just the opening act though. In the second act the screaming continued and the audience was introduced to main characters wailing and flailing. What brought on this masterpiece theatre you ask? Dylan woke up in the middle of his cleaning with sharp metal tools and spinning drills in his mouth. Shit. Fan. Hit.
He was so scared and shocked when he awoke he probably felt like he was being tortured to learn some important state secret. “For the hundredth time, I told you, I don’t know where I hid Daddy’s keys!” He was yelling so loudly, Spinal Tap would have been impressed with the ease at which he reached volume 11. The hygienist actually asked me, a little too sternly, to make the screaming stop because Dylan was apparently “frightening the other patients”. I’m not sure how exactly she expected me to do this since the model kid I had purchased did not come equipped with an on/off switch. I won’t confirm or deny anything but the thought may have crossed my mind to purposely goad Dylan to continue exercising his lungs just as a big fuck you to the heartless hygienist. To make a long story short, we left the office shortly thereafter.
The Second Visit
This time I brought backup – Mr. Bear. Dylan had fallen asleep in the car on the way to the appointment which we knew from previous experience was much better than falling asleep in the chair. Like last time, he refused to open his mouth. The hygienist couldn’t get inside to clean and the dentist couldn’t get inside to examine. That’s when my backup flexed his muscles and threatened to make Dylan open his mouth the hard way. Some background info is required here. A few days before the appointment, Dylan was refusing to take his meds. Fed up, Mr. Bear asked Dylan if he wanted to take the meds “the easy way or the hard way?” Ever the smart ass, Dylan smugly chose the hard way. Suffice it to say, he did not like the hard way and quickly opened his mouth for the hygienist and dentist upon hearing the loaded threat. It was definitely a struggle, but the skilled hygienist miraculously managed to clean his teeth. When the dentist examined his teeth, she found two soft spots on his back molars. Fuck! Tell tale signs of cavities. To confirm whether these were indeed cavities, they would need to take xrays of his mouth. Fuck! Everyone agreed that was just not happening that day so the dentist suggested coming back every month for a quick check-up to get Dylan use to the process with the goal of getting him comfortable enough to allow them to take an xray. The dentist explained that they would have to put Dylan under to fill the cavities should they discover he in fact has cavities. I didn’t have the heart to tell her about my past experience with putting D to sleep for his MRI. Good luck to you denty.
The tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth
In all likelihood, Dylan has two or more cavities thanks to parental willful blindness and canary yellow teeth that conjure up visions of Austin Powers. Perhaps, as with the narcolepsy, we can chalk it up to genetics and blame Mr. Bear’s British ancestry.
I would very much like to blame him for something.