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The Surprising Lesson I Learned When I Took My Kid Off Our Dental Plan

Child having a dental examination

Teeth are tricky business for this mom of six. Sure, I have a lot of doctor’s appointments and places to take my boys, but I find the dentist to be one of the hardest of those obligations.

This is true for a few reasons.

Where I live, teeth cleanings and teeth check-ups aren’t done in tandem, at the same visit. This means that you have to schedule an appointment to get your teeth cleaned and schedule another appointment on another day and time to see the dentist for a check-up and x-rays.

Well, when you’ve got six kids and you want to keep your own teeth healthy as well, that’s 14 appointments to balance in the course of the year. And while I’m very grateful that dental care is subsidized and covered by our health insurance, the closest dental clinic is a 20-25 minute drive away. Talk about scheduling nightmares.

So far, I’ve managed to swing it and book all of those cleanings and check-ups (and the occasional cavity) without losing my mind.

But recently, I felt like throwing in the towel. I would make an appointment for my 16-year-old three or four months in advance, only to be told when the day arrives that he has work/test/basketball practice/a major event on the day of his appointment. And so we start the process all over again.

I figured the summer would make things easier, since he’s back at home and has more time. But he’s working like crazy, and just asked me to cancel the 8 a.m. appointment I made this week.

Can’t say no to a kid hard at work.

As I was telling my husband that our son’s teeth were simply going to rot in his mouth, my husband said something that shouldn’t have been earth-shattering, but for me it was:

“Why don’t we just give up on this dental plan, just for this child, and go to the private dentist in our town?”

And the world stopped.

In retrospect, I have to giggle, because I’m so rigid and planned in the things that I do that I just assume I have to keep doing them. We have subsidized dental care and it’s great, so gosh-darn-it, I have to find a way to make it work in every situation and for every kid even if I’m ready to lose my mind.

But what if we just say: You know what? This isn’t working. So let’s find another way to do things.

Yes, it will cost more money for our 16-year-old to see the dentist in our community, but the task will actually get done. We’ll have a kid with healthy teeth and a mother who can keep her sanity (at least in this situation).

As my husband suggested this solution, the tension vanished. Poof.

Just like that.

Obviously we all have goals in our lives as parents; we all have plans and objectives and things we need to accomplish. But it’s really important not to lose sight of our sanity in the process of checking off these goals. And sometimes, if the square peg just isn’t going to fit into the round hole no matter how much you push and prod and jam it with those 20 extra pounds of oomph that you’re always trying to lose…it’s time to ditch the round hole instead. It’s time to make a detour that will save your sanity.

Brilliant.

Now why didn’t I think of that?

Sometimes parenting and time management are really hard and complicated and sticky.

And sometimes we just make them so.

Lessons learned for this harried mom on the path towards clean teeth.


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The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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