When feeding a person by g-tube for medical reasons, tooth care is still very important. Because of my daughter’s sensory processing disorder, which causes her to be very orally aversive, anything in her mouth is repulsive to her. Tooth brushing is a challenge and we never are able to brush her teeth as well as needed.
Everyone has a naturally occurring oral bacteria. Unfortunately, Little Miss has a bacteria that leaves black deposits on her teeth when they are not well brushed. If I could brush her teeth well twice a day every day this would not cement itself to her teeth. However, if she is sick it is impossible to brush her teeth. Toothpaste in any quantity makes her vomit. Brushing for more than 20 seconds is impossible so far. So after a few months her teeth look like this (brace yourself – not pretty):
Today is our day to go to the dentist. Yay! The black stuff will be gone! Little Miss has to be drugged to get her teeth cleaned. It isn’t general anesthesia, it is a sedative. It doesn’t make her completely willing but it does help. It requires the dentist (not a hygienist) to spend about 90 minutes getting her teeth clean and x-rayed. Luckily, we have the BEST pediatric dentist!
See what a great job she does?
She has told me it is highly unlikely Little Miss will ever have a cavity because she doesn’t get any food stuck between her teeth. However, to keep plaque off her teeth and maintain her gum health brushing is still required. NOT brushing regularly will result in sore, puffy gums and that is NO fun!
The other result of not eating orally is that the process of chewing and having food move around in her mouth doesn’t force her teeth to erupt through the gums. So we just have to be patient and wait for things to v e r y s l o w l y show up on their own. If you look at the 3rd photograph you may be able to see HER left cuspid (or canine tooth) has just poked through. Between her central incisor (front tooth) and the cuspid are a pair of hiding teeth – the other central incisor and the lateral incisor. They’ve been threatening to erupt (come through the gum) for at least a year. They are moving, but the gum is stretching to accommodate them! So if the are still in hiding at the next 6 month check-up the dentist will remove a small elliptical piece of gum tissue to help them along. That ought to be LOTS of fun.
On a funny note – tonight she wanted to go get pizza at her favorite place, so we did. She ate a LOT of pizza and then wanted gummi bears. !!! I personally hate those, but all my kids like them! She tasted a couple green ones and asked what “taste” (flavor) they are…. I said, “probably lime or spearmint.” Her reply: No. They taste green, Mom. Just plain green.