Par­ents have to sink their teeth into a daily strug­gle

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Mi­randa Mur­phy Mi­randa Mur­phy is a mother of three and a jour­nal­ist at The Aus­tralian. Fol­low me on Twit­ter @mur­phymi­randa

I’VE fi­nally ticked some­thing off my ever-grow­ing guilt list of ne­glected tasks: taken the kids for an over­due den­tal check-up.

When I say ‘over­due’, I mean about five years over­due for my five-year-old son – yes, I had to sheep­ishly ad­mit to the den­tist that this was his first time.

Thank god she didn’t ask me the den­tal floss ques­tion.

Have you ever tried floss­ing a small child?

We spend an alarm­ing amount of time main­tain­ing our chop­pers.

Ap­par­ently the av­er­age per­son uses 38 days of their life­time brush­ing their teeth.

And if you look af­ter chil­dren, say add an­other three days per child un­til age six for brush­ing or su­per­vis­ing care of their pearly whites.

I’ve got three kids, so that’ll even­tu­ally be al­most seven weeks of my life ex­pended on our den­ti­tion.

When they’re ba­bies, they gum the tooth­brush and just swal­low or spit the paste.

Young­sters stead­fastly refuse to open their mouths as you un­rea­son­ably at­tempt to get in there to clean.

Older chil­dren still re­quire con­stant vig­i­lance and nag­ging.

At bed­time the words roll into one … “all right ev­ery­one … teethandbed!”.

It can es­ca­late to the threat­en­ing – “if you don’t brush your teeth, they’ll go black and drop out” – or the pas­sive-ag­gres­sive – “if you want to have yel­low teeth and bad breath that’s up to you”.

Not for the first time do I curse that fairy – like when she fails to show up, or when she in­creases her per-tooth pay­out.

If only she were just a fig­ment of our imag­i­na­tion.

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