My dentist is always a little overwhelmed – and perhaps just a little fearful – when I burst into his surgery, exclaiming “Here comes your cash cow!”. He knows that I’m onto him – that I’ve discovered his recent car upgrade, which was only made possible by my crumbling teeth. And I’m sure he’d suggest taking out the damn lot and putting in dentures – except for the promise of future root canal and implants which might secure his children’s – and his grand-children’s – futures.
Still, he’s a nice man and I like him very much when he’s not causing me excruciating pain or draining my bank account to drought levels. Which is actually never, now that I think of it – except, perhaps, when the kids are in the Chair, and even then my lack of personal pain and expense is only because they’re not at the “re-mortgage the house” stage of their dental care.
Or so I thought. The other day The Pixie had her first check-up, and my dentist must have wet his pants with excitement when he looked into that mouth of hers. Summoning me over, he showed me that when she closes her teeth, instead of the top and bottom teeth meeting at the front, there is instead a little Pixie thumb-shaped gap. It’s called an “open bite” and it turns out that The Pixie is one of those few thumbsuckers who is managing, through sheer force of her suck, to do long-term damage to her teeth before the Tooth Fairy has even paid one visit.
Part of me was horrified that something like this could happen on my watch; another part of me had to marvel at the adaptability of the human body where a child’s mouth can evolve to accommodate a well-loved thumb; yet another part of me wondered how she still managed to leave such impressive bitemarks on her brothers without a full bite; and there was definitely a part of me that wished that gap had been there in The Pixie’s final weeks of breastbiting. Oh silly me, of course I mean breastfeeding.
We were sent on our way with strict instructions to cease all thumbsucking *immediately*. Mr Justice was even given the job as “Thumb Monitor” by the dental assistant, who obviously didn’t realise she was giving him an open mandate for violent acts against his sister every time she succumbed to the Thumb. So the trip home was one of those ones where I had to find the Happy Place in my head amidst the screaming.
Of course, the first thing I did when I got home was to go scare myself stupid by googling the term “open bite”. The very first page I looked at had pictures that made me think, if the sound was turned up on the computer, there would be that banjo song from “Deliverance” playing in the backgound. Eeeeeeee!
The next thing I did was to google tips on giving up thumbsucking. And boy, what a wealth of information there was out there, including tying woollen gloves on their hands at night, slathering their hands in a mixture of sorbelene and chilli oil, and using a rewards/punishment sticker chart where they either get a toy at the end of the chart or have their thumb amputated. And all the while, The Pixie’s shouting in the background “I like sucking!!!” in that scary way that makes me think she is about to storm the Reichstag. And of course Mr Justice, the upholder of the Lawwwwww, was shouting back with equal force. And Tiddles was shouting too, but only because the other two were and it seemed like the hip thing to do. And to think I paid the dentist $50 for this – I could have revved the kids up on sugar and food colouring at the local playcentre for half the price, and still had the same result.
So now we’re left with the momentous task of getting The Pixie to give up her precious thumb. I’ll no doubt devote future posts to her ongoing battle with thumb addiction and any profligate spending I catch my Dentist doing, now that he has himself another cash cow. But, in the meantime, there is one thing that has given me heart. I was speaking to a friend about my woes and she stopped me mid-sentence to point out she had an open bite. It was something I had never ever even noticed, let alone made me think anything even vaguely like “Squeal like a pig, boy.” Eeeeeeeeeee!