Practice What You Preach

At fourteen months (and one week) Thomas still has no teeth.

The dentist part of me is not worried. The dentist part of me knows that although his teeth are late in arriving, it’s quite common. Variability in eruption dates is the rule, not the exception. Congenital anodontia (the total absence of teeth) is ridiculously rare and ridiculously unlikely. These are all the things I tell parents siting in my dental surgery wearing a worried expression and asking if their child is “normal”. I reassure them that they are fine, and the teeth will almost certainly erupt in their own good time. I tell them that there is nothing to be achieved by worrying, and we’ll just keep an eye on things.

But then I listen to the parent part of me.

And it turns out that I’m not very good at practising what I preach.

If I’m honest (and this is my blog, so why not?) I go by “Do as I say, not as I do”. I forget to floss my teeth – something I tell people to do every day. I don’t avoid all fizzy drinks and I definitely snack between meals on sugar-containing foods – things I tell people not to do. (Shoot me now. But in my defence, I have no fillings, no gum problems and a very healthy mouth.) So along the same lines, I tell my patients not to worry, and then go ahead and do it myself.

But this must be normal, right? It’s normal to worry about your own children. To want the best for them and to wish with all your heart that they encounter as few problems in their life as possible. I already feel bad for Thomas that although he manages to eat an astonishing array of pretty tough food on his gums alone, it must be harder for him than it would be if he had teeth. He loves his food, and I hate to think his enjoyment is being spoiled by something out of his control.

And if there is a problem, is it something that I could have controlled? Is it my fault? I’ve talked before about the guilt of diabetes and the worry that comes with it. If there is a problem are my blood sugars, or my medications in some way to blame? Those rouge high blood sugars in the first trimester, or the excessive number of low blood sugars had the potential to do harm. No matter how small the possibility, it nags away at me and will do so until the teeth break the surface.

I do suffer from the issue of too much knowledge being a dangerous thing. I can’t help but ponder the long list of potential causes of delayed eruption of teeth, including such things as growth hormone deficiency. And when you consider that Thomas sits on the 0.4th percentile for height…

I really need to learn to practice what I preach, listen to the dentist side of me and stop worrying about things which I can’t control, and in all honesty about which there is really nothing much that we can do at present. It’s just hard when your five month old niece has teeth already and your child’s friends of the same age have molars. But the teeth will almost certainly come in their own good time and I need to learn some patience.

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