Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dental Maturity

Eli had his first visit to the dentist this week.  Brad and I were apprehensive because Eli has been pretty reluctant to let anyone look into his mouth, but we were also optimistic because he loves brushing his teeth.

We took Eli to Chidren's Dentistry of Cherry Creek; locals, if you're in need of a dentist for your kiddos, this is the place to go.  They were absolute pros.  (And Eli's dentist, Dr. Lisa, has been awarded one of Denver's top pediatric dentists for the past five years.  Well deserved, in my opinion.)

The dental assistant, Renee, told us at the beginning of his appointment that she would do as much as Eli allowed her to do, but her main goal was to make him comfortable being there so that on his next visit they could do more.  She began by using a puppet to show Eli what she was going to do in his mouth.

The next thing we knew he had his mouth WIDE open for her.  She'd given him a handheld mirror to watch what she was doing, and he was actually enjoying his exam.  They counted his teeth, she flossed his teeth, and he even allowed her to scrape some mysterious blue plaque from behind his bottom front teeth.

I wish I could've taken a picture, it was so adorable.  But things were going well and Eli hates having his picture taken.

Which is why I'm often forced to take pictures of him while he's sleeping:

Anyway, back to the dentist. . . .  When the dentist came in to examine him, she told us that his two bottom front teeth were adult teeth, and showed us that the teeth on either side of these were loose.  (yay!  tooth fairy visit on the horizon!!)

Eli grinds his teeth.  A lot.  We first heard it in the middle of his epic time-in with Brad, so we thought it was stress-related.  But then we noticed he also does it when he's happy.  My friend Anne, who's a dentist, told me it could be related to growing pains, and Dr. Lisa concurred.  She said that about 95% of her patients' parents report teeth grinding (so this is probably not news to most of you), and that it will likely stop once he loses all his baby teeth.  And she said that it was nothing to worry about.

She also told us he'd likely lost his top front teeth naturally.  (In Ethiopia we'd been told by one person that they could've been pulled as part of a tribal ritual, and by another that he could've lost them due to malnutrition.)  She said that African children can mature dentally faster than American children and, again, it was nothing to worry about.  His six year molars have not come in yet, so she estimated his age to be between four and five years old.  (Without looking at his chart or asking us his age.)

Eli's Ethiopian birth certificate ages him at four and a half years, but many adoptive parents discover the age stated on the birth certificate is way off--sometimes by several years--and we understand it can be nearly impossible to correct their birth date after they come home.  Brad and I have felt all along that Eli seemed about four and a half, but as first-time parents we have no real frame of reference.  It was a relief to know that we didn't need to worry about what age he "really" is versus what age he is on paper.

The final good news--no cavities!

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