Recently, I went to see the dentist accompanying my daughter. It had been a year since my last checkup;
it had only been a year, so I had thought.
"I was here a year ago."
I vaguely remembered that I had missed the 6-month checkup once, and told the staff at the front that it
had been a year since my last visit. However, when the records were pulled, I was told that my last visit
was 2 years ago. I was lost at words. I was busy last year having started studying and having been
preparing for new work; I had missed three regular checkups in a row. As time had passed, my memory
was fabricated to think that I had missed only one checkup, and that I was still a decent enough mom in
caring for a dental care. However, the truth was a slap in the face in cold numbers. Between 2 years, my
14 year old daughter had developed 13 molar cavities.
I was devastated and was at loss thinking the long duration it would require to work on the cavities.
Fortunately, I was advised that everything could be divided between right and left molar sections, and
that it could be taken care of with just two visits. Despite the relief at small number of required visits, I
felt great remorse and regret for my daughter who had to go through the procedures. Due to the spread
of cavity and missed checkups, dental expenses ended up accumulating as well. I wouldn't have had to
spend as much if I had come for the regular checkups each time.
Upon looking at my daughter under the influence of anesthesia after the procedure, I wondered if I had
failed as a mom. As I was thinking that very thought I came to a sudden realization that my daughter had
mentioned about a year ago that she had a toothache. I was worried a bit, but had told her "let's wait
and see."Because my daughter did not mention anything afterwards, I had assumed that everything was
okay. Even when I had received a reminder call from the dentist, I had said that I will check my schedule
and make appointment later. This in other words mean "because I am so busy, I have no time to take my
daughter to a checkup." To a certain degree, I was even annoyed by the reminder calls. Valencia's
Cinema Dental Care was a place with advanced equipment and experienced female dentist where my
daughter could go without fear of dentistry. The only excuse I could think of was that it was rather far
from Glendale, where I had lived previously. However, the truth is that I have been much longer
commutes and trips when it was business related.
There is still one appointment left for my daughter to rid of her cavities. I feel a tinge of regret every
time I catch my daughter checking her teeth in the mirror. For children who are too young to take
themselves to the dentistry, it is the role of a parent to take care of dental appointments. Not being able
to take care of child's dental need is failing duty as a parent. If I had been likewise in a career setting, I
would be fired for being unaccountable.
Because I was at fault and felt sorry, I kept saying "brush your teeth well and be sure to reach behind the
teeth!" With having set the excuse set aside, I would tell any busy or working mothers loudly by their ear
to take their children to the 6-month regular checkups no matter how busy they are. After all, it's only
twice a year.
When my daughter was much younger, I had gone for fluoride treatments in advance to prevent any
possible cavities. I had gotten loose as my daughter grew older, sometimes thinking that she was old
enough to take care of herself. As a plaque test (a test where a liquid base would indicate plaque areas
with pink coloring in the mouth) would indicate, it's even difficult for a grown up like me to do a fine job
of cleaning my teeth. It's only give that it would be more difficult for younger children.
6 months down the road, when I receive a reminder call again, I think I will be feeling regretful and
grateful at the same time. Regretful that I had been annoyed in the past reminder calls, and grateful for
reminding a busy mother to take care of her daughter. I write this piece reminding myself, as I look
down on my daughter who is now fast asleep after having been staring into the mirror for her now
cavity-free teeth. I remind myself so I would know better in the future.
Mrs. Gong, from La Crescenta