The best responses to these questions end up being about relationships, and lesser-of-two-evils, and logic, and reality.
In October 2017, it seemed better to create a page with links we could share later than to discuss it yet again.
Be aware that there might be newer and better knowledge and ideas coming along, so I've dated the links.
Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll wrote:
I have a collection of radical unschooling approaches to cleaner teeth.
From Brushing Teeth to Cleaner Teeth
Radical unschooling ideas to move from brushing teeth to building a toolbox of ideas for cleaner teeth.
That link was easily found (with Joyce's notes) in a discussion I had saved from April 4, 2017:
Toothbrushing ideas is the name of the page, but it's about clarity and relationships. Someone had posted in the facebook group, and then got defensive and deleted it.
More about Dental Visits, than about home care:
Responses to this are at the link below, but might be largely links I'm collecting for this page:
My dilemma is regarding my 3 and a bit year old daughter who I know has tooth decay in several teeth. We have taken her to several dentists over the past year and she flatly refuses to allow the dentists to look in her mouth. She is even reluctant to allow me to look at her teeth, only to get glimpses of the dark areas of decay. In the past couple of weeks, she has started eating less and she requests to breastfeed regularly throughout the day - her wanting to nurse has increased in this time. Night time teeth brushing has always been a chore but recently it has become very upsetting for her. It is clear to me that she is in discomfort and tonight she has told me that some of her teeth are sore.
I have a dentist appointment booked for next week and she knows this but has told me she does not want to let the dentist look in her mouth. I have suggested I take photos of her teeth to show the dentist but she won't even let me do this.
Bodily autonomy is an important principle for me as a parent but this has me stumped because I'm concerned about her pain increasing. I'm concerned about the possibility of infection and affecting the health of permanent teeth. I don't know where to go from here as she is not consenting to treatment of any kind.
Radical Unschooling Info, October 12, 2017
"My son is 4 yo and a few months ago he mentioned a couple times that his tooth hurt. I took him to the dentist and he was comfortable with her looking at his teeth. He has two large cavities in his molars and..."
Radical Unschooling Info, March 15, 2017
My 4 year old son is going to the hospital to have cavities filled on Monday. He has big cavities in all his molars and has been in some pain.
I am very nervous for several reasons. I am sure the procedure will go fine, but I am not sure how he will deal with the experience. I can't go back to the OR with him, he may not be cooperative with the nurses, and I am sure he will be scared and probably angry with me....
Radical Unschooling Info, November 2, 2013
More about home care, but various other related worries:
For members of Always Learning, here are links to some previous discussions.
finding balance regarding dental care
"Yesterday my son Josh (6.5) had dental surgery and now has 8 crowns. He had an abscess a few weeks ago and was on antibiotics and since that dentist visit, I've noticed a lot of anxiety coming up about his dental care. He's gone a few years not ever wanting to brush his teeth. ..." [39 responses, June 2016]
More, based on something I wrote there: Side curses and clarity
(Someone lambasted me privately, and I brought it back and commented. It's also saved on my site.)
talking to concerned doctors, and dentists [10 responses, February 2015]
Helping my daughter with her teeth
I feel that our trip to the pediatrician this week got me anxious about her teeth again. I believe it would also help me relax a bit more to read some of the stories of how things happened with other children and how moms dealt with these issues. [4 responses, July 2014)
When children don't make healthy choices
...As for the brushing of his teeth, after trying everything, we have resort to a consequence of stating that we will not take part in giving him more pain by buying him candy unless he brushes his teeth twice a day. [20 responses, April 2014]
I was wondering about how Radical Unschoolers approach this issue when the child decides they don't want to clean their teeth. [26 responses, January 2014]
Sucking thumb [adopted, stress, orthodontia thoughts, 11 responses, January 2014]
Teeth and food choice freedom [5 responses, June 8, 2013]
food choice - what am I doing wrong
[that starts somewhere in the middle, because the initial post wasn't about teeth, it was about diet, but it went toward dentistry; 100 posts in the topic, March 2012]
Unschooling Thought/Teeth [August 2004]
There are others, but I got tired of looking. That's probably enough.
In April, 2019, an article came out and there were a couple of discussion of it. One was friends only, but here's what I had written, and there's a link to the article we had read, below that.
My oldest got decay early in the two teeth outside his front two... second incisors. The dentist says That's bottlemouth." I said he doesn't use a bottle, and bottlemouth is on the center teeth.
The Truth About Dentistry:
It's much less scientific—and more prone to gratuitous procedures—than you may think. By Ferris Jabr, The Atlantic
The dentist didn't like that. He had an easy answer and I knew something, and that made him irritable.
So he said it was caused by breastfeeding. Period. That was his only and final answer. :-) He said after every nursing session I needed to clean his teeth. That was because he had never nursed a baby to sleep and didn't know what he was talking about, but had been assured by having an advanced degree in dentistry and the title of "Doctor," that
#1, everything he learned in school was fact, and
Perhaps I'm being uncharitable. In the past 30 years, I've noticed more humility in medical professionals in general, but it might also be the difference in my own perspective. When all doctors were older than I was, and I had very little experience or knowledge, I didn't balk. Now, no doctors are older than I am.
#2, anything he didn't learn in school he was authorized to make up
The same article was discussed at Radical Unschooling Info, where I left a link back to this webpage, and some folks told stories.
Unschooling.com's Message Boards: Conversations With Sandra Dodd: Help with Teeth Brushing — rescued discussion from 2004
on Joyce's site