Organization providing research, workshops and advocacy on health issues for youth. Information on the organization, events, workshops and research.
A Life Lesson for Our Family
As a parent, there are many lessons I try to teach my children. Sometimes, parents can be the ones who need a lesson. My daughter was the unfortunate victim of having parents who were ignorant of the negative effects of fruit snacks on the health of children's teeth. As a youth, I didn't have fruit snacks, so I was terribly unaware how they can damage teeth when not brushed off correctly. When my husband and I inspected our daughters' small teeth at age five, we realized the sticky snack had damaged her molars. Terrified, we took our child to a pediatric family dentist who inspected her teeth and informed us that her health could suffer because of the damage.
We attempted to have x-rays done with youth size bite wings, but our child was traumatized by the experience and our family stayed away from the dentist for several years thereafter. We should have tried better for the health of our child, but we were overwhelmed by her anxiety and couldn't put our family through more trauma.
Several years later, our son was born and we attempted to take our children back to the family dentist. We were afraid for the health of our son's teeth and vowed not to allow him to have the same fear. Luckily, his teeth were perfect and he didn't have to have any treatments other than cleanings every six months.
The health of our daughter's teeth however, started to decline severely around age eight when one of her molars broke down to the gum. As a family, we made the decision to go back to the dentist and commit to whatever treatments our children would need in the future. Luckily, when our family reentered the pediatric dentists' office, a new experience set us at ease. This time, the dentist talked to our children instead of to us. Imagine my pride, seeing my handsome four year old son in his little youth sun glasses smiling brightly up at the dentist.
There was no fear in either of our children this time and they both reacted well to the dentists' instructions. It became a lesson for them on how to take care of their own teeth. The dentist told each one about how, as a youth, their teeth would fall out and be replaced by adult teeth as an adolescent. Our children were ecstatic to take their own dental health in their tiny hands. It made them feel important and it allowed some of the pressure off of us as parents.
Allowing your children to seize control and responsibility of some aspects of their own health is a wonderful way of helping them to build a strong and healthy future. Each child is different as well; my son was ready at four but my daughter wasn't until eight. It all depends on the youth and what their personality is. The most important thing to remember is that one bad experience doesn't need to ruin the relationship between your child and their doctor or dentist. Relationships can be mended and attitudes and fears can change. The important thing is that you try - our children are worth it.