Posted in Dental Health, Preschoolers

Severe tooth decay in baby


I am usually incredibly open and like to share here so we can all learn from and support one another but I have to admit the shame surrounding this is DEEP and I am going to hide behind the “anonymous” button. I have a 4 year old. She has always been great about letting us brush her teeth and now as she gets closer to 4 she is starting to brush first and we give a once over afterward. So let’s go back in time. When she was 2.5 I was pregnant with her brother, and I guess my milk changed and she stopped nursing and all we could think to do was switch to bottles of cow milk (she’s super thin and always has been), so we didn’t want to cut all those calories. Anyway, toward the end of my pregnancy (which was TERRIBLE the whole time) I was just half alive. I could watch my daughter for the time my husband was at work, but when he got home I just went to bed and then got up when my husband left for work the next day. So teeth brushing fell to my husband. But it turned out he wasn’t doing it. So for 6-8 weeks her teeth just didn’t get brushed. Then a month after I gave birth I took her to her 3yo check up and the dentist said her teeth looked awful and she had terrible decay on one and needed a crown on it. I freaked out. I screamed at dad for not brushing (not proud) and we changed our routines. We got the crown. They did it in office. She didn’t even cry, the end of that. So after my baby boy was born something still wasn’t right with me. First, it was 6 months of colic for the baby and 6 months of PPD for me. The baby wouldn’t nurse so had to start formula. He didn’t get teeth until later but I brushed them at night (he fought and screamed.) I told dad (who still had morning duty) to make sure both kids‘ teeth were brushed well before he left. After the PPD passed (~8months post partum) my health was BAD. I was diagnosed with 3 autoimmune disorders including Lupus. (No wonder I was tired and low energy and felt like death all the time.) So dad took a little more time off and he again was in charge of night and morning teeth while I got as much extra sleep as I could. So. Turns out for the past 3 months dad HAS NOT brushed 21 mo teeth, only 4.5 yo because the baby fights and it’s “too hard”. So upon learning this I made their check up appointments with dentist and then I got the toothbrush and sat down to see what we had in that little baby mouth. And he had cavities on EVERY SINGLE TOOTH. I mean ALL OF THEM! I literally cried as it flooded through my head what was going to happen. I know. I have all the warning pamphlets cause I am the one who takes them to Drs and dentists and does everything. I know about milk/bottle rot on teeth. I know baby teeth need extra extra care. I know how bad that damage is and I know they can’t fix that at a normal dental office. So I fretted for a few days but today I took him in and they saw us as a walk-in and my horrors were solidified. My baby needs 8 crowns at least, and that’s if they can save the molars at all-otherwise extractions. And it has to be done in a specialty hospital for pediatric dental surgery and it has to be done under general anesthesia. I sobbed. I feel like the worst parent in the world for letting this happen. I had let it happen with my baby girl and even after knowing dads demeanor with these things “if it’s hard don’t bother” I still didn’t check in on it. My friends keep telling me it’s not my fault- it’s dads, and that I had my own health to worry about but I can’t forgive myself for this. And what if something happens?!? A baby this young shouldn’t be going under anesthesia at all, especially for something so preventable! And what if they can/will only do metal crowns and he has a smile full of silver teeth???? it’s all 4 of his top front teeth and all 4 molars. Sorry this is so long but I need to know anything anybody has to say about experience with this stuff! I brushed diligently as a kid! My husband shrugged and said “I had all silver crowns as a kid.” I’m like well I don’t want my baby to! And I’m sure it hurts, and of course the treatment will be uncomfortable and of course it will traumatizing for him. Etc! And I can’t even express how much we CANNOT afford this right now. It’s estimated at around $2200 AFTER Denti-cal (we have Medi-cal insurance) pays for their part!! Our plan: get in ASAP with the children’s specialty dental Dept at UCSF (but this is quite a trek for us and it’s a teaching hospital so it’s done with a team of residents overseen by a teacher.) Has anyone tried that type of thing? TIA!

  • Andrea
    Nov 09, 2018

    Oh my gosh, I'm SO sorry for everything you're dealing with. I wish I had advice or reassurance, but I have no experience here. However, I did want to point out that it might not be entirely dad's fault - if he had crowns as a kid, he probably has bad dental genes that he passed to the kids. No kid brushes that well, but most of us make it through childhood with minimal problems. If Dad had big problems and the kids do too, I would assume genes are involved. This extent of decay indicates some bigger problem. My father in law has a similar problem with weak teeth (that thank goodness he didn't pass on to my husband!). He is super, super diligent with dental care but still has a lifetime of enormous dental problems. I'd take these problems you're facing as a giant waving red flag to fill up that HSA/other savings account to be prepared for further problems. Of course, I hope it gets better for you :( And try not to blame yourself or hubby! Stick it to the genes.

  • Mira
    Nov 09, 2018

    Why do they put crown on baby’s teeth? They gonna fall out anyway , no? My 18m don’t wanna brush at all ! It’s hard he sucks only on the water.

  • Anonymous
    Nov 09, 2018

    Awwww what a story! I am so sorry!! I’m happy you’re out of the dark and you’ve got some answers about your own health. I’m with Andrea, it’s genes. We didn’t brush our teeth as kids and I’ve only had 2 cavities. My family has good teeth. I don’t think it’s your fault, or your husbands, I think it’s genetics. I understand, brush baby teeth is hard! My son just bites on the tooth brush so I can barely even get it in there, there’s nothing we can do.... it’ll be ok. They are professionals, and just as mentioned above, they’ll fall out the first few years of grade school. So sorry you’re going through this!!

  • Anonymous
    Nov 09, 2018

    Mira, it’s absolutely essential so that the gums and jaw are healthy for the permanent teeth. A rotten baby tooth can rot under the gum and hurt the big tooth, also if it needs to be pulled then there will be a space and then the other teeth will move into it and not leave room for the big teeth. It matters A LOT!

  • B
    Nov 09, 2018

    That’s so hard. I agree with others that some of it is due to genes. If it were me, and after talking to husband he’s still not brushing, I’d take back that part of the routine. Even if not evening and morning, once a day. I’d also get specific suggestions from the dentist for the future (what kinds of cups are the best, etc). Mine told me about a toothbrush that vibrates and lights up which my 21 month old loves (babysonic). My nephew uses a special mouthwash to help with his cavities and he does a silly dance to shake it around. Also, make your husband go to the dentist with them. Maybe he needs to hear it from someone else. Not just this big surgery, but the regular check ups. Also remember you’re doing the best you can and your kids will be fine. You had some bumps in the road but hopefully better from here!

  • Aida
    Nov 09, 2018

    I’m so sorry your babies are going through this. As mentioned already, I think partly it’s genetics and maybe dad figures he survived it, so will his kids. We have similar genes, one side good, the other not so great. My son started getting teeth at 4 months, and the brush was just not easy to get him used to, our pediatrician recommended using gauze instead to wipe the teeth and get a little scrubbing too. He took better to that then the brush until he was about 18months. We found the 4x4 gauze pads in bulk on Amazon.

  • Jenn
    Nov 09, 2018

    I know you have a lot on your plate but maybe it's time to go back to you brushing. Is there anything you typically do that you can get dad to do instead? That way you can take over brushing their teeth again. You may need to brush them at odd hours but anything is better than nothing. Try cutting their sugar intake too & read about pH neutral foods. Anything too acidic wears away at enamel, which is fine for some but maybe not if there's crappy genetics ☹.

  • Yoomi
    Nov 09, 2018

    Have you heard of cell salts? It is safe to give them to the baby and the whole family. Calcium phosphate and calcium fluoride, in particular, helps to regrow and strengthen teeth. Please research cell salts and try them out.

  • Gretta
    Nov 14, 2018

    I'm going through the same thing right now. We found out our 2.5 year old has cavities on all 4 of his top front teeth. His dentist won't fill them until he's 3 though. The shame is real, because as a parent you see it as your duty to keep them in perfect health. Honestly though, I think a lot of it is due to genetics. My mother in law has very weak enamel, as does my husband. They both have countless cavities despite very good brushing. I think that might be what's going on with your kids. Chances are, if your husband has had lots of cavities, it's probably a weak enamel issue or something of the sort. I was one of 6 kids, so it was nearly impossible for my parents to be on all of us kids about brushing. I had pretty bad dental habits as a kid, but I've never had a cavity! I had no idea genetics could play such a huge role in dental health but apparently it really makes a difference. If it makes you feel any better, maybe get a second opinion. We saw one (slightly sketchy) dentist who wanted to crown our sons tooth, but then another dentist said it wasn't necessary. Did my research and learned that some dentists will perform unnecessary procedures for kids on medicaid (like we are) because they know the government will pay for it. It's a quick way to make more cash, but at the expense of the kids.

  • Kelli
    Nov 15, 2018

    I'm in a similar situation, my son is 3 and needs 4 crowns on his back molars with a possibility of a baby root canal and possibly a few fillings on the teeth in front of those. The specialist we took him to scheduled him for March... (yes that far off ) to have them done all at once in the hospital where they will do his x-rays right before the procedure. I feel like it's all my fault too, even though I've been struggling since his birth with ppd, and PTSD among other things I tried to do everything because my husband is the same way, too hard or interferes with what he wants to do and he's not doing it. I begged for help and was told that if I want it done then to do it myself. Even my now 8yr olds brushing suffered because he wasn't making her brush while I was in the hospital or for months after I got home and was on restrictions... Both our genetics are bad so they already have two strikes against them but I guess I'm the only one that cares. Sorry for rambling...