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Lessons to Live By: The Truth About My Tooth

Hello and happy fall! One of my favorite fall events is Halloween. 

Believe it or not, I don’t enjoy dressing up in costumes all that much. What I like most about Halloween is trick-or-treating. The best part is collecting as much candy as possible. If I had to decide, I’d say my favorite type of candy would be “anything chocolate.” The only kind of chocolate candies I don’t like are the ones with coconut. Blech! I really don’t like coconut, so apologies if I’m yuck-ing your yum.

Because my dad is an orthodontist and my mom makes sure we eat mostly healthy foods, I don’t normally have lots of candy. On Halloween (and for a little while after until my candy runs out), my parents aren’t that strict about my candy cravings. They trust that I’ll be smart and won’t eat so much candy that I’ll get a stomachache. For the record, that only happened once.

But having just come back from a check-up with the dentist, I learned a big life lesson that I want to share with you: the importance of taking care of your teeth.

Holy cavity

You might be thinking, “why is a kid giving me advice about teeth?” Is Noodle an undercover agent for her dentist? Although my dentist, Dr. C, is quite nice and it would be super cool to be an undercover agent, the answer is no.  

I have a good reason for writing about taking care of your teeth. Last week, I went to the dentist for a check-up and learned that I had a cavity. A cavity!!

I know that getting a cavity isn’t that big of a deal. The part that bugs me the most is that my big sister, Jill, has perfect teeth. Not a single cavity. And she wasn’t shy about rubbing it in that now I have a cavity.

For those of you who are lucky enough to be cavity-free like Jill, I’ll explain what a cavity is: a cavity is basically a hole in your tooth that is caused by something called decay. That’s when your tooth gets weaker and breaks down because of certain types of germs in your mouth. Sounds icky, I know. But we all have germs no matter how often you brush your teeth, wash your hands, and clean everything else in between.

Dr. C said you can sometimes tell that you have a cavity if your tooth feels sore, achy, or throbs. I asked if you could ever see a cavity. He said yes, but only if the hole is big enough. 

Because my tooth didn’t hurt me, I probably wouldn’t have found out that I had a cavity if I hadn’t gone in for my check-up. 

I guess I’m lucky that I visited Dr. C when I did!

In a rush to brush

So how did I get my cavity? The truth is, I don’t know. 

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t from having a lot of sugary foods or drinks. I am generally good about taking care of my teeth. In fact, I brush my teeth twice a day. I know that’s something Dr. C—and probably all of his dentist friends—would say you should do.

But if I’m being honest, I maaaaay brush my teeth a little too quickly. And there’s a possibility that I miiiiiight forget to floss my teeth on a regular basis. (I’m usually really good the week before my dentist’s appointment, though!)

Dr. C told me that cavities can be caused by lots of things. Cavities can come from this sticky gunk that forms on your teeth if the gunk isn’t washed away. The official name for this gunk is called “plaque”. Over time, the outside of your tooth (the enamel) can get worn away from the plaque, and a cavity might form. 

My dentist also said that sometimes people just have lots of plaque and acid in their mouths. They’re more likely to get cavities no matter what they do. So, it’s not always about taking care of your teeth. But that doesn’t mean you should just throw away your toothbrush!

Getting my fill of fillings

If there’s any bright side about catching my cavity early on, it’s that it didn’t hurt to have the cavity fixed.

I was really scared when Dr. C first said I’d need to get something called a filling. I asked Dr. C if he was just going to pour in some sand or dirt into my tooth to plug up the hole. That would be easy, right? Dr. C said that’s not quite what happens, but it was a good guess. I think he was just being polite.

What really happens—if the cavity isn’t too bad—is this: first, the dentist makes sure the area around your tooth is numb. That way you don’t feel anyone or anything touching your tooth. I think it also helps the dentist work more quickly. 

Next, your tooth is cleaned out to make sure all the decay is removed. Then, a tooth-colored filling is put into the area where there was decay. The dentist then seals it up with a special ultraviolet light. Dr. C used this neat blue light for a few seconds. It looked like a magic wand to me. If I could’ve tried out the magic wand, I would’ve cast a spell on my teeth to stay cavity-free forever. 

After that, Dr. C put on the finishing touches. He checked to make sure my newly filled tooth didn’t have any rough edges or bumps.

The whole process took about fifteen minutes. I even went to school right after it was done. Fortunately, I didn’t have to miss my spelling review. I’d studied hard for it.

Here’s a picture I drew of me at the dentist:

May the floss be with you

Although it wasn’t so bad getting a filling, I really hope I don’t have to do it again.

From now on, I’m going to focus harder on taking care of my teeth. I’ve promised myself to be better about brushing and flossing. 

I’ve already decided that I’m going to set a timer to brush each side of my mouth for thirty seconds. Every night before bed, I am going to floss my teeth with the new dental floss Dr. C gave me. When he gave it to me, Dr. C said “don’t choose favorites. Every tooth deserves to be flossed.” I couldn’t tell if he was joking, but it sounded like good advice. 

And one final change… from now on, I’m not going to dance in the bathroom while I’m brushing my teeth. OK, I won’t dance as much—as long as I’m concentrating on my brushing. I’m sure Dr. C will be fine with that. 

Before I go, I’ll leave you with a joke: what is a dentist’s favorite musical instrument? 

A “tuba” toothpaste.  

OK, it’s time for me to get ready for bed—after I do a good job flossing and brushing of course!  I promise I’ll be back soon.

Until then, be your best you.

Do you have any fun tips or special routines when it comes to taking care of your teeth? Kids, parents, and especially dentists are welcome to share your thoughts in the comments section!

(I’d also like to give a special thank you to the real Dr. C for checking that my blog got the dental stuff right.)

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