Whenever Josie and I arrive somewhere by car, Josie asks for ‘one big and one widdle’ raisin to take outside. As soon as I put the car into park, I start digging through the tub of raisins I keep in the console looking for the extremes. When we get down to the bottom of a carton, and I have a bunch of picked-through medium-sized raisins, it can get tricky, but I’m not above flattening/stretching some and squishing others.
When we arrive at the dentist’s office for Josie’s first teeth cleaning, we complete our ritual before going inside. The hygienist meets us in the waiting area and reads a picture book about their office and the cleaning and tells her everything they are going to do. They have little games to play with the water thing and the suction. Truly gifted people. It’s all going so well. We’re having such a lovely time.
Then the hygienist asks what Josie eats for snack. I mention raisins. Raisins? The hygienist puts her hand to her chest and practically gasps (she may, in fact, have gasped) and begins a rant about the sugar and the sticky getting lodged in the crevasses of Josie’s teeth. For god sake woman, stop with the raisins.
I’m thinking: raisins are good for her, raisins are good for her, raisins are good for her… I manage to say something benign and non-committal like: I see your point. But this is not enough, she wants a commitment.
Have I mentioned that I have good teeth? They may not be pretty but they work real well. I don’t have any cavities. One dentist told me I had really effective plaque-reducing saliva, and I’ve grown a little cocky. I have a hard time getting worked up over tooth decay. But Josie doesn’t have my teeth or my super-duper saliva.
Then the dentist comes out and continues the sermon on the perils of dried fruit. When she’s done she looks to me for a commitment, for a confirmation that I got the message. A very rational voice in my head is saying: just nod and smile, nod and smile. Then: don’t do it. Then: for god sake, woman, keep your mouth shut. But I can’t. I say: Raisins are a good source of iron and fiber and she tends toward constipation.
Oh god, more about the sticky –the raisin-damning continues. She goes into her office and comes back with a picture of a tooth crevasse and toothbrush bristles skimming over the top to demonstrate the brush cannot get down in there. You see lady? Can’t you see the bristles don’t get down there.
I’m stubborn and continue to defend the raisin. I understand that they’re not good from a dental-hygiene standpoint but I’m trying to take the whole body, her whole system into account and the raisin really does have a lot to offer as far as transportable snack foods go. They come in cute little boxes or tubs to suit your needs. They can be easily handed into the back seat while driving. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some big. Some widdle.
Next thing I know she’s talking about raisins and gummy-bears as if they’re the same thing. Fine. Fine! I’ll buy her some goddamn sunflower seeds, but I won’t like it and neither will she.
Then it comes time for fluoride. The dentist tells me that Josie’s teeth have not calcified properly. They’re sticky (I wonder how many times a day she uses this word) and already starting to decay. Josie really needs fluoride. I wasn’t prepared for this discussion. You’d think I would be, I’m at a dentist after all, but she’s only two and I didn’t think they gave it to kids this young. But, of course, this raisin-hater dentist wants to apply fluoride to Josie’s teeth.
By then I’m broken-down. I’m beaten. I remember reading that babies and toddlers should use toothpaste without fluoride until they can spit it out. I mumble a question about the systemic effects of giving a young child fluoride. They apply it directly to her teeth, but will the amount she incidentally swallows be harmful to her system? The dentist tilts her head and gives me a blank stare. Eventually she responds that too much fluoride can leave brown spots on teeth. Once again, only about the teeth. (I must say that she is a damn good dentist. Perhaps she should be called a tooth-advocate.) At this point I give up and Josie has the fluoride.
When I get home I look it up, and imagine my surprise, when I don’t find too much hysteria about applying fluoride to teeth. There’s some concern with formula-fed babies getting too much fluoride for their little bodies in tap water (oops, too late now). And there is some concern about over-fluoridated water, but really not much talk of fluoride applied directly to the teeth.
Maybe that dentist was right. I guess now I’ll have to go buy a mixture of roasted pumpkin (big) and sunflower (widdle) seeds to keep in my car. But I still reserve the right to serve her dried fruit whenever the hell I feel like it, damit.