So what do you do when they DON'T learn from natural consequences? Give up?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by gcvmom, Apr 6, 2010.

  1. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    difficult child 1 had a cleaning at the dentist's today. He has FOUR new cavities. That's on top of the SIX he had at the end of last summer. And today, because the hygienist called in sick today, the dentist himself cleaned my boy's teeth. He said that plain and simple, difficult child 1's issues are due to NOT brushing and NOT flossing. Short of wrestling this kid to the ground and having his dad SIT on him while I do the job for him, I cannot seem to get him to brush like he should, cannot get him to floss like he should, and cannot get this message to sink in. I am beyond exasperated. I am just ready to give up! :whiteflag: Well, not really, but SERIOUSLY! What do I do? I've already told him I want him to pay for these next fillings.

    And no, this is not related to his Crohn's at ALL. It's related to sheer laziness, in my opinion.
  2. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Well, if he can't bring himself to brush and floss, then no foods that are apt to create more decay: no sugar (including sugary drinks), no soda, etc.

    Other than that, I just don't know.

    Is he interested in girls? Cause once easy child became interested in girls and we told him that no one is going to want to kiss a mouth like that, he started brushing.
  3. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I had this problem with difficult child 1. I just finally gave up. He is now almost anal about brushing his teeth...but he had root canals at 19.
  4. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I suppose that's another tact we can take, too. I shall be collecting his Easter candy now and informing husband that he can no longer buy sugary sodas! And then I'll show difficult child 1 his portion of the dentist bill -- that's gonna be a huge shocker to him, even with insurance. And it will likely take him the rest of the year to earn the money to pay it off. Too flippin' bad!

    Part of his problem is this: He doesn't eat enough during the day because of his stims messing up his appetite. So he often gets up at night hungry and raids the kitchen when we're asleep. We never made a big deal about it, because for the past four years with his Crohn's he's always been playing catch-up with his growth/weight. So he eats and goes back to sleep... or eats in bed while he's half asleep. Bad, bad habit, I know. Combine this with his lack of motivation/concern/whatever when medications are out of his system at night, and thus the dental nightmare was born.
  5. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Shari, maybe that's what he needs! I told him he's lucky we have insurance and can take care of these problems befor they become PAINFUL. Maybe a good old fashioned toothache would be the cure for him!
  6. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Have any of his teeth ever hurt, or does the dentist catch them before they cause pain? Pain CAN be a teacher, but it isn't always strong enough to have them remember the lesson when the tooth does not hurt.

    Can you keep sugary foods out of the house or in a lock box in your room to be doled out sparingly? Will it cause him to hoard food and/or eat only junk food when he eats out of the home? If you can move toward having much less sugary stuff at home that might help. Of course, since the lack of brushing/flossing is the main reason, it may be that any food will cause the cavities. In that case removing the sugar and junk won't make a big difference.

    One of the things that makes a difference in boys is girls. That was the ONLY thing that got Wiz to brush. Not even my mom's demands and refusals and over-policing made a difference.

    I refused to get braces for him. They were largely needed for cosmetic reasons, not for health reasons. I saw NO need to pay for them if he didn't care about his teeth. Not even the threat of being reported for child abuse made a difference. (I actually called and asked if not getting a child braces was endangerment. They laughed and said that if a medicaid dentist did not require braces they were NOT required.)

    Sadly, other than daily reminders/checking up on him, there isn't anything YOU can do. Just like getting our kids off drugs, we simply cannot force them to do certain things. You could address any sensory problems (I am sure you have already), add incentives, etc.....

    Probably the ONLY thing likely to make much difference is to force him to pay the bill. If he gets allowance, dock it. If he gets birthday/xmas money, dock it. Keep the tab running for however long it takes to pay it off. If he wants a new video game/book not required for school/sports team fees, make him pay for the teeth out of part of that money. Not all, or he will lose incentive.

    But if he wants a new gameamabob and it will cost $100, plus $30 for a game, he can only buy it when he has $260. He has to put HALF of whatever $$ to the teeth. I would do a running deduction, not have him save $$ and give you half before he spends it. Make him give you half as soon as he gets it.

    If he has lunch money and is skipping lunch, esp if it is to buy something, make him give you the money back. This may encourage him to eat during the day, even if not hungry. It will also keep him from using his lunch money as a source of cavity-tax funds. This is partly to help him see how important it is to eat at lunch and partly because if he eats at lunch he may snack less in the night.

    Does he ever use his spending $ to buy candy? I would put a higher tax on that money. If he has money for a 50 cent candy bar, then he must pay you a dollar before he can eat it. Also to help make the link between the cause of the cavity and the consequence of paying the bill for the dentist.

    Half is just a number I created for easy math. ANY number you want to work with will do.

    I am sorry there are so many issues surrounding his eating, esp as it impacts his growth.

    And esp because it is so hard to get them to change. I suspect that when he is older he will really regret the damage he is doing to his teeth. (He will also regret helping the dentist buy that new boat, LOL! - Our running joke with my dad's dentist is that it is time for dad's checkup because W wants a new boat. My dad has a filling, crown, or other major problem with every tooth in his head.)
  7. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Actually, no soda at all. The acid in them wreaks havoc on the enamel.
  8. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Juices are bad, too. They contain a lot of acid and can't be left in the mouth to stew overnight. I agree with letting him pay for the work.
  9. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    This is going to sound a bit meanish.............but not rushing Travis to the dentist when he needed to go seemed to help. Pain is a great motivator. As the boy discovered when his tooth broke apart. I didn't make him wait forever, but he did have to wait until I had some extra cash to pay for it. (about a week)
  10. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I've had a LOT of work done on my teeth for multiple reasons. As a kid/teen I did not brush enough because it hurt. Now I do forget occasionally, but not often!

    The family joke is that my mouth paid for my dentist's frequent trips to Scotland.

    I've had many root canals. It is at the point where I can tell an abscess is starting, I call their office and they call in antibiotics for me and schedule the root canal. No preliminary exam. I have 2 bridges. I have had 3 apicoectomies - which is where they cut the gum open, dig out the bad part of the root and backfill. NOT FUN.

    Just let it get painful. That's my $0.02. Honestly it really kicked my rear. I have to have a special toothbrush and floss now, plus threaders for the bridges. It hoovers. Bad.
  11. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Well, I was going to say it could be his own chemical makeup making his teeth prone to cavities until you said the dentist specifically said otherwise. I only scanned the other responses and it looks like my ideas were mentioned already- 1) strict limiting of sodas, sweets, hard candy- none near bedtime; 2) maybe something he likes to do in the evening is limited to ONLY after you know he's brushed his teeth, then no drinks or food after that; 3) tell the dentist in private to make the next fillings not so painless. Oh- you can take him in to have teeth cleaned more frequently and make him use the mouthwash that colors the teeth until each spot is brushed well.

    The first time I had to get a filling I was about 6 yo and was not numbed at all. I noticed when my son got one he had the stuff that numbs your gum before the neddle was put in that actually numbs the entire side of your face, then was handed an office game boy to play for a while until the numbing took effect. I told the dentist then that it was no wonder my son wasn't all that motivated to brush his teeth.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2010
  12. Robinboots

    Robinboots New Member

    Drop the rope. Take him for his usual cleanings, let the dentist "chew" him out (ha). Keep sugary stuff out of the house. That's it. He's 15, they're HIS teeth, someday - if not now - he'll have plenty of natural consequences. Most kids go through stages of not brushing/flossing.

    Seriously, let it go. You have enough to deal with.
  13. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I'm with the Robin on this one.
    Take him for twice a year cleanings and this will set an example for him (hopefully) that one goes to the dentist once or twice a year for a cleaning and checkup.
    Provide for him floss and perhaps give him an ocassional reminder, but let the dentist do the heavy lifting of the big speech. Consider getting him an electric toothbrush.
    Limit sugary stuff in the house and when he asks "why?" tell him it is because his check-ups at the dentist are not very good.
    That's it. He's 15, and this probably is not all that uncommon. He is still immature. Hopefully, when he gets a little older, it will sink in. The natural consequences might help. Right now, since he is under age, you need to provide for his medical care.
    Although I totally get your point about how these kids don't get cause and effect, this might be more of an immaturity issue (fingers crossed) and if he is a difficult child, chances are you've got other things too worry about and can at least for now enjoy the benefit of letting a dentist help you out with this one.
  14. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    I agree with Robin and Nomad. Coach the dentist to not make things quite so pleasant for him, provide him with the tools he needs, and then let him deal with it.

    We have found ourselves in a similar spot with difficult child 1. He just. won't. brush. Doesn't matter what we withhold or what we offer, he just won't do it. His psychiatrist has recommended "harm reduction" at this point. Get him the mouth rinse that stains plaque blue to show him how dirty his teeth are, get him plaque-fighting mouthwash in an attempt to keep it at bay, and then let him suffer the consequences. Our dentist and dental hygienist do not go easy on him during his cleaning and checkup, and we have not gotten him braces because, just as with Susiestar and Wiz, they were for cosmetic reasons and I'm just not willing to invest thousands of dollars on braces when he won't invest five minutes ever day to keep his teeth clean.
  15. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Thank you EVERYONE for the great ideas.

    He IS going to pay for these fillings one way or another. Just like I made him pay to replace his broken eyeglasses (due to his carelessness -- and they were just a few months old) last year. We ARE going to stop buying sugary sodas and keeping candy available.

    I've given him the various flouride mouthwashes, fancy flosses, yada, yada, yada. They just sit. His idea of brushing is showing the brush to his teeth, more or less.

    I don't usually do this, but I held up easy child as a shining example of someone who eats/drinks the right things, practices proper hygiene, and as a result has perfectly healthy teeth (at her age, difficult child 1 already had two or three fillings). I think he kinda winced at that comparison. So be it!
  16. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oldest once had about 12 cavities. They wouldn't fill them all at once, so did one side of her mouth and she was supposed to go back to get more done .. but she never did. She's since lost one tooth to an abcess. Her teeth are so yellow she has to photoshop photos of herself to make them look white.

    But, she is an adult. I think the suggestions for your son are good ones.

    I have no answers.. .just commisserating :(
  17. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    Sometimes cavities/no cavities really is just a matter of luck....

    When I was a kid--I always had cavities. ALWAYS. It was the worst. My little sister's teeth were even worse than mine. It didn't seem to matter what we ate, drank, or how well we brushed...

    My brother, on the other hand, NEVER brushed his teeth. Just didn't. Did he have cavities? Nope. Not one!!!

    So even if you get him to start brushing and flossing and doing all the right things--he may end up with cavities any way.

    Hopefully, you can drill it into his head (pun intended) that dental care is just part of the every day routine. You know--use the toilet, wash your hands, wash your face, brush your teeth, comb your hair, get dressed for school.

    It's probably the best you can do.

    Good luck!
  18. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    They are very right that other things can play a part. My Vit D deficiency is showing up in my teeth. They are a mess and the dentist cannot do much. I will have them for a while, but brushing and flossing have NO impact on the problem. I have tried. I mostly just do what I can, brush, floss as I can and will handle what comes.
  19. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    I have terrible teeth, but I was born with a birth defect where my tooth enamel didn't form properly, so can't protect the teeth. Cost me all of my top teeth despite my brushing and flossing from the time I could hold the brush myself (I remember my mom flossing my teeth when I was too little to do it my self).

    I've lost back molars on the bottom and am in the process of having my other bottom teeth rebuilt. Not cheap and not fun. A thing to remember is that it isn't just sweets; potato chips, cheetos, stuff like that, are HORRIBLE for teeth because you basically wind up with starch stuck to the teeth and the acid forming bacteria go crazy for it.

    I can't do root canals because the repaired teeth break off or rot beneath crowns. If your difficult child has normal enamel, he is heading towards a mouth like mine sooner rather than later.
  20. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Chicken Lady, sometimes medications are a contributing factor; combine that with the sheer laziness of not brushing & you have an oral mess on your hands. Anti epileptics are known for cavities & gum disease (i.e. tegretol).

    I brush/floss regularly & have had hundreds of $s of work done & still struggle.

    In the meantime, with the issues difficult child 1 has keeping the sugar & letting the dentist be the "bad guy" is a good idea. I let staff here be the bad guy all the time - takes the pressure off an already near toppling situation.