Dentists are not a Type 1 girl’s best friend.

‘This man is a dentist – that’s why we can only show you his terrifying mask on television’


Wednesday, you can get wucked. Prepare for a ranty, cranky post. I have nobody to be mad at except nobody’s friend, diabetes.

Apparently, when you have type 1 diabetes, (or any type, AKA, ‘normal’ type 2 diabetes) you have a much higher risk of tooth decay. Not earth shattering information in the big scheme, I know, and probably everyone you and I know has a filling or two, but HOLY HELL. Today was shocking and suckful. Or sucking and shockful.

It turns out Lauren has an extremely large cavity in the back molar that is exposing the nerve, so she has to go back for not only a filling, but  nerve treatment as it’s exposed and will get infected and abscess if it’s left much longer. The dentist told me this very calmly. I don’t think my face was terribly calm, though she kindly used the word ‘pulp’ instead of ‘nerve’. Lauren’s so beyond reacting to anything that has to be done to her I doubt she’d have baulked anyway. There’s a little hole in the other side too, but hey, what’s a little hole when we’re talking about PULP. It’s making me want to protect my teeth’s balls just saying the words NERVE and PULP.

So – the tooth ‘repair’ is what they’re doing to Lauren on Monday. Tomorrow, meanwhile, is just another little 2-hour diabetes clinic visit. She’s just a hamster on an appointment wheel. She’s becoming so docile and compliant with all things medical I almost want her to go nuts and rebel, just so I know she’s still a child instead of a patient.

The technical term for what they’re doing is a pulpotomy - so the pulp root is still ok (small mercies?) and the decay is isolated in the pulp tip, so the dentist will leave the healthy part alone and only remove the affected pulp and surrounding tooth decay.  The resulting gap is then filled. She’s going to get a face-full of needles and become a numb drooler in any case, and while needles may be tolerable in your belly or bum, I know for a fact they hurt like hell in your mouth.

I’m feeling really beaten down about this. Really sad. Really guilty. It’s the crap about ‘putting your baby to bed with a bottle’ that’s stuck in my head, and though I didn’t do that, what we’re doing now IS bad for her teeth, and I can’t help it, and have to keep doing it. She’s hypo or low at least two nights per week, and we have to give her a juice popper in her sleep (she literally sits up, sleep drinks, then lies back down) to get her back to safe blood glucose levels. Lauren has only had diabetes for a total of seven months now, and never drank anything but water as her ‘drink of choice’ before that. Can her teeth really fall apart that badly in only seven months?

She does have to have a lot more sugar now, because she’s low probably five times per week and needs juice to get back in ‘range’ (i.e. above 4 mmol), but I’m now also wondering, if this can happen in seven short months, WHAT ELSE don’t I know about diabetes and its side effects? After some reading tonight I find it’s not all about the juice.

When diabetes is not controlled properly, high glucose levels in saliva can help bacteria and plaque thrive. The average non-diabetic person should have their blood glucose remain stable within a range from 4—6 mmol as a constant. With Lauren’s blood glucose level bouncing from 2.5 mmol to 22 mmol on some days (hell yeah, I’d say we’re uncontrolled), it’s not just the juice we’re putting in to save her that’s eating her teeth, but also her saliva itself that is sweet and helping plaque thrive. Ahhhh.

Now that I understand the reasons, do I feel better? Nope. Not even a little bit. One more piece of crap for my little girl to be watchful for, already from the age of 5. And for me to worry about the next cupcake, about drinking water after to rinse her mouth out because she’s more likely to decay with those sensitive little baby teeth. To try and sleep-rinse her mouth after I’ve sleep-treated her hypo.

What next? Is there something else I need to know about? I wish somebody would hit me with it all at once, so I can digest it, then be better prepared for the parts that I can do something about. I know the medical profession hates Dr Google, but my dentist didn’t know about any of this – the increased risks or the issues with treatment. At least with the internet we can better equip and prepare ourselves to prevent things that can be prevented. I’m all for reputable, well-researched and resourced health-sites providing information for those seeking the specifics. GPs are stretched, and specialists specialise, quickly and expensively in problem-solving. I want more information, and I want it now.