A cautionary tale

April 23,2009
Professor Mom
Aliki McElreath( )

Aliki is a writer and college English teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children (ages seven and ten), a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and too many fish.

Even though Scott and I are thrilled to put yesterday's dental experience behind us, I know T. is even more thrilled. Getting dental work done has got to be on everyone's list of things you just don't want to do. But if you have to get dental work done, I think it pays to be a kid. The pediatric dentistry practice we take the kids to is amazing, and I know when Scott and I have to get dental work done we certainly aren't allowed to watch a Curious George film, or wear groovy fish sunglasses, and we certainly never get to pick a prize from the pirate chest treasure box. Still, all those perks just can't take away from the fact that you're there to get your teeth drilled, and it's just.no.fun. ************ Sometimes I feel so proactive and on top of things as a parent, other times I feel like my head is in a bubble, and we're the lamest parents on earth. I felt like that yesterday morning. Months ago, when we first found out T. would need dental work, the dentist also told us he would also seal all her back molars. He explained the process to us, and the reasons why he wanted to do it (preventative and good for kids prone to cavities and fissures). Scott and I thought, how cool--sealing molars so there's no decay. Great idea! It didn't occur to me to look into the substance used to seal the molars until 6:30 a.m. yesterday--the day of the appointment. Word of advice: do your research ahead of time--don't wait until the day of and then do an internet search while downing coffee. Because I didn't have enough to worry about yesterday, a Google search revealed that there is some controversy floating around about how some dental sealants like those used on children contain Bisphenol-A. Bisphenol-A--as in the chemical that caused all the uproar over plastic baby bottles. I then spent about fifteen minutes surfing the internet and reading lots of articles like this one, and this one. Then I foolishly clicked onto some archived parent group chat rooms and uncovered lots of from-the-gut opinions about the practice of sealing or nor sealing children's teeth. I didn't even know this was a hot topic, nor in a million years did I think to question what was being used in the dental sealant. However, while I do appreciate the wealth of information out there on the internet, I also respect the importance of trusting your health care professional. When we arrived at the pediatric dentistry office at 8:00 yesterday I asked the doctor immediately about the sealants, bracing myself for having to argue about our concerns, or maybe take a stand about not doing that part of the procedure. But he was so ready. Not only does the sealant they use at their practice NOT contain any Bisphenol-A, but he had several articles to give me about the subject, just in case I wanted to do some waiting-room reading on FDA studies (I'll always jump at the chance to read FDA studies, particularly at 8:00 a.m.). And further research shows that the majority of dental practices do not use sealants containing Bisphenol-A. If you are contemplating having your own child's molars sealed, do your research, but talk first with the dentistry practice--if they don't answer your questions honestly, or they still use a sealant containing Bisphenol-A, then you will have to weigh the concerns over the small amounts of BPA that are leached out of the sealants against the benefits of the procedure. ************ Most of our Earth Day was taken up with lying on the couch watching cartoons with T. and sympathetically eating cherry jello alongside her. And yogurt smoothies. And cinnamon applesauce. Oh, and I had an interminable meeting at 3:00 yesterday, which seemed very unfair given that the day should have been spent outdoors, celebrating the Earth and the arrival of spring. We postponed our Earth Day celebrations (every day should be Earth Day anyway) until today--I'll be back on Friday with the lowdown!