Teeth are tricky. Aside from the sleepless nights and fractious, dribbly days of teething, teeth are essential for chewing and biting, constantly on show, vulnerable to and in direct conflict with human love of sugar, in need of regular close attention, potentially highly dangerous to the parent’s prodding finger and located such that the small, capricious owner can easily deny access.
None of this is clear at first of course, when the weary but adoring parents of the six-month old for whom the slimy, house-destroying mess of ‘Baby-Led Weaning’ is still a novelty (they’ve yet to slip on a 2-day old half grape smeared with mustard, wedged behind the table leg). They wonder as the toothless babe seemingly shreds sticks of carrot with its gums and it’s only when the carrot comes out of the other end and the child is gurgling away on the nappy mat that they notice the first hint of sparkly white in the bottom gum.
Thus a new phase of cute, cheeky two-tooth smiles and a quick finger smear of low-fluoride, mild tasting baby toothpaste. Easy enough so far.
Then there’s a gap in my memory, because the next thing I remember is roaming the house with two loaded toothbrushes in the wake of a pair of unyielding toddlers, firm in their decision that there are more important things to do than brush teeth – namely bounce on the bed and pour things on the floor.
Songs worked for a while. Then elaborate stories of concrete mixers, transporters and other unlikely vehicles driving willynilly