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Kristen Cook: Parenthood means putting money in your kids' mouths
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Kristen Cook: Parenthood means putting money in your kids' mouths

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You know those bumper stickers that read “My kid and my money go to (insert college here).”

Well, all my kids and all my money go to dentists and orthodontists. It’s not their fault. Heavy metal was their dental destiny. Their dad had ’em, and I wore braces for 2½ years. That was back in the glory days when orthodontia included middle-school-boy-repelling headgears and there were no cute, colored rubber bands or clear, practically invisible braces. No, you got metal and more metal.

I knocked out my front chompers at my own third birthday party when I fell face-first out of our swing. Whether that contributed to amazingly crooked teeth later, I don’t know. But, I do know that kind of oral unluckiness did get passed on. By the tender age of 5, No. 3 had already had two “baby” root canals and having the dentist refer to them that way did not make them any cuter — or cheaper. More recently, that kid chipped a tooth — front one, of course — when he ... sneezed.

He was fishing a 20-cent contact-lens plunger from down the drain when that nose tickle hit as his face hoovered inches above the tougher-than-human-teeth, porcelain sink.

That was a mighty expensive sneeze, $115 to be exact, since the dental deductible (band name!) had yet to be met.

Don’t even get me started on their braces. So, here’s the thing, all you fresh parents out there, you might be feeling pretty good right now about your baby’s ability to self-soothe by sucking on a thumb. Yeah, well, 9.5 years from now, that thumb-sucking is going to bite you in the wallet.

No. 1, an avid thumb sucker, wore braces for nearly three years, with all those regular six-to-eight-week visits shoehorned around school and sports and carpool schedules, so easy to do. She took exquisite care of those pearly white and silvers. Six months after they came off, the doc suggested another round.

No. 2 was next to hit the chair. That’s been a joy. In theory, we should go a month and a half between checkups. But, we often have bonus in-between visits because of broken brackets. They snap off because she sucks on her hair, getting the strands caught in the metal, or she eats taboo foods or, according to my secret school sources, chews pen caps like they’re gum during class. In November, things were looking great and aligned and the end seemed so very near — then a hook broke off a bracket on a front bottom tooth and that sucker drifted sideways in 10 minutes. Four months later, we are still waiting for it to straighten.

I guess I shouldn’t worry too much, though. Yes, she’s definitely going to need fillings in each and every tooth, but thanks to a certain $115 sneeze, at least we’ve got that deductible covered.

Contact Kristen Cook at or 573-4194. On Twitter: @kcookski. On a recent weekend, No. 3 declared his intent to “go for a jog around the neighborhood.” Two minutes later he came through the door. “Yeah, I forgot how much I don’t like running.”

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