Need to Vent

HELP!!! We do not have dental insurance. I brought difficult child 1, difficult child 2, and easy child to the dentist for routine cleanings, x-rays, flouride, and sealants. The bill was over $800!!! If that isn't bad enough, difficult child 1 and difficult child 2 both have cavities. I guess I should be glad that each boy only needs one filling. As I always remind myself, things could be worse!!!

I'm not angry at difficult child 2. He really does try to take good care of his teeth. However, difficult child 1 only brushes his teeth because he can't play computer games unless he does. Most of the time I think he is only running the water in the bathroom sink.

The dentist said that difficult child 1 has extremely inflamed gums and will end up needing lots more dental work unless he starts taking care of his teeth. difficult child 1 does not care.

If difficult child 1 had a job, I would speak to husband about taking a small sum of money out of each paycheck until he had paid for his filling. The only thing difficult child 1 cares about is computers and football. I'm sure this would help because difficult child 1 knows that without money, he can't buy computer games, upgrade his computer, etc...

difficult child 1 does chores as part of his daily routine. I thought about giving him extra chores to do and assigning a dollar value to each one. Then he would have to do extra chores until the bill for his filling was covered.

However, this would be more of a PITA for me than anything else. difficult child 1 enjoys conflict. He would do the chores so poorly that they would need to be redone. He would enjoy watching me waste my time trying to get him to do the chores correctly. ( difficult child 1 DOES NOT DO ANYTHING HE DOESN'T WANT TO DO).

I even thought about removing his computer for a specific amount of time. However, the computer is just about the only thing I can use to keep his behavior under control.

I refuse to offer him a reward for brushing his teeth. difficult child 1 is almost 16!!! I know that in my intro post I was given good advice that I need to stop thinking about difficult child 1 in terms of how old he really is, but instead look at him in terms of where he is developmentally. However, I just CAN'T bring myself to offer him a reward for this.

I've thought about just letting natural consequences take their course. However, he will end up with a mouth full of rotten teeth. I'll end up with a HUGE dental bill.

If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. I've had it... WFEN


New Member
That just stinks. I agree with you, rewards for tooth brushing at that age are going to be worthless, unless it's something highly monetary. My difficult child 2 would buy into that if the reward was, say, $10.00 a day :wildone: Ridiculous.

I don't have this problem, so having said that, I like the idea of natural consequence. BUT, it's not my kid I have to stand by watching his teeth rot either. I would assume they are not going to rot and fall out any time soon. If he stops brushing now, by the time he's 18, it would no longer be your problem, right?

Either way, totally stinks. I'm sorry. I know alot of people have the tooth brushing issue here. SO's son is only 10 and his teeth are yellow/brown, gross. He is lucky to brush them once a week, although, his mother doesn't ask/make/enforce it. Kinda feel bad for the kid.



New Member
we don't have dental either and i'm sure my kids will have my teeth. they are soft and prone to cavities. difficult child just had a filling last mth and easy child is grinding down her teeth i don't know what we will do when she gets her adult teeth in. she will probably need a mouth guard like i have but mine cost $400!

these are the things that make me want to change to an hsa instead of our major medication insurance.


Roll With It
Maybe it is time to read the Love and Logic books. they have the approach that our KIDS should do the work, and we should not. How does this apply? By teaching you how to make this your son's problem, not yours. If nothing else, sell his computer stuff (or pawn it) to take care of the bill. Let him worry about buying it back from the pawn shop. READ the love and logic for teens book.

I recently went to a conference with Dr. Jim Fay, the guy who invented this. It was AMAZING!! It really showed how to turn things around the way they should be, so that our kids do the work!!

you can check out Love and Logic (including a 38 min free download audio) at



Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
difficult child T still won't brush his teeth at 20. :hammer: He has been fortunate so far that he got the teeth genes from husband's side of the family. He's only had one cavity.

Not having dental really stinks. We don't have it either, but N is currently covered thru healthy start, which is thru welfare. You might want to check into it. It never hurts to ask.

I have sooooo many teeth now that need done it makes me cringe. But the cash just isn't there to do it at the moment. :frown:


Active Member
We recently had a trip to the dentist with easy child 2/difficult child 2's boyfriend. He had a bad cavity that had been neglected (he's terrified of dentists) but the pain got so bad because the tooth was such a mess, that he had to have the tooth pulled. The pain had to be really bad before he would even go to the dentist.

So we took him, we paid for the extraction (A$200) and he has now paid us back from his first pay cheque. He has no insurance. We do, partly, but it would only cover half and it won't cover non-family members. In fact it won't cover working adult members, so the older kids have to get their own health insurance (difficult child 1 & easy child already have done this).

We pointed out to him the value of having dental insurance. He agreed but can't afford it yet. We also pointed out that he needs to look after his teeth to avoid unpleasant dental visits.

How did your difficult child enjoy his dental visit? A scale & clean is unpleasant if your gums are sore and bleeding. If he can hold the thought that failing to clean his teeth properly will lead to a lot more of this, maybe he is going to be more cooperative, just to save himself.

Another BIG thought - if his gums are sore, it will hurt to clean his teeth. I would talk to him about this (keep it on a cooperative level, you want to reduce his discomfort and help his gums heal) and maybe go shopping for a very soft, very small child's toothbrush. Get several because they will 'shaggy dog' very quickly, but soft won't hurt his gums so much. Another option - you can get brushes that have r-u-b-b-e-r bristles on the outer area, these massage the gums without scratching. He still needs a soft brush, though.
Then, if you want to discreetly check up on him to make sure he's not just running the water, you can feel his brush to make sure it's been wet, plus you can smell it for toothpaste. Don't let him know you are doing this, just call him back to do his teeth if you know he hasn't. Let HIM puzzle over how you could know - keep the kids guessing as to how all-seeing parents can be, is my motto.
Another option - just get him to brush once a day in the evening after he's finished eating - a clean mouth before bedtime is the most important. If he's only doing it once a day it's still the best time. Check his gums yourself, regularly. If you see little or no improvement, tell him that once a day in the evening after dinner is no longer enough; he'll need to brush after each meal and present himself to you for inspection. Show him what to look for and teach him to examine his own gums. And whenever he tells you to stop fussing, point out that not only are you trying to avoid a big dental bill, you're trying to save him the long-term pain, discomfort and bad health that will result in failure to take care. Take him out and introduce him to some homeless people and get him to ask them what a toothache feels like, and what they did to dull the pain.

He also should be flossing - if his gums aren't good, there will be gaps between his teeth where food is getting caught. This is really uncomfortable and he doesn't have to floss between each tooth, just use the floss to get out the bits that are stuck. Once he can feel the immediate relief from discomfort and pain, he will do the rest of his teeth too, at least now and then, to feel more comfortable. If he has big gaps between his teeth it's OK to tie a knot or two in the floss to help pull out any food bits. Failing to clean out the bits is a HUGE reason for puffy, sore, inflamed gums. Removing those bits is almost miraculous.

Undoubtedly food is getting caught between his teeth, down next to the gum. It's got to be, from your description. Is he using toothpicks to get it out? They work, but take time and they hurt. Floss is better. It's quicker, it's more thorough, it hurts less and you feel more comfortable much faster. Let him work out how to use it for himself - I've found that the way dentists show you is sometimes too rough for beginners. You have to work up to it and you do this naturally as your gum health improves.

In the long term - he has to take on his own responsibility for his teeth. And to do that you have to get him into the habit, and sell him on the selfish reasons for it.

It sounds to me like he's been avoiding cleaning his teeth because of the discomfort and inconvenience. if he's got to go to the trouble of faking cleaning his teeth, that's just as inconvenient. So all you have left now is the discomfort factor. And the sooner he takes this over, the sooner the discomfort will ease.

One last, really dirty trick - feed him lots of big crunchy things (like celery sticks), lots of big chunks of meat, preferably slightly tough meat with long fibres, and the piece de resistance - corn on the cob. These are all notorious for getting stuck and needing to be picked out of they cause pain. Then when he complains - toss him the canister of floss.

Good luck!


Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
If you find something that motivates him to brush his teeth let me know. Mine brushes so rarely it's unbelievable. I am sure one day we will run into huge dental bills as well. We have dental insurance but it's not great.

Thanks so much for the support and excellent advice!!! I can't believe that I've finally found a group of people who truly understand what life is like with difficult children.

I'm going to discuss this problem with husband and tell him about the advice we've been given.

I'm so glad I'm not just "lurking" anymore!!! WFEN


New Member
My son was also bad about brushing his teeth (still isn't great, but does better). One of the things the dentist recommended was one of those fluoride rinses (like ACT). difficult child didn't mind rinsing his mouth as much as he did brushing. It must have helped; he's only had one cavity in the past five years or so.


New Member
Well maybe have the dentist fix the cavity without a novacain??? If it hurts enough maybe he won't be so slack in the oral higene department. Before doing that though I would ask the dentist if his teeth appeared clean and cared for. Many kids just have soft teeth due to antibiotic use when the teeth were forming. A dentist can tell if that is the case. -RM