Within a year of discovering that my one-year-old son, Eden, had a shocking amount of life threatening food allergies, my teeth became so sensitive that biting down on anything harder than a slice of toast brought on painful tingles. So, although my dietary choices were already in flux from reinventing family meals around Eden’s allergies, I began eliminating more food groups: citrus fruits, green apples, piping hot tea, and anything with undue crunch.
How had this happened to my not-as-Chiclet-white-as-I-wanted but otherwise normal teeth? According to my dentist I was grinding my jaw in a variety of directions at night. Hard. So hard that my nightly mouth guard had grooves in it. Neither prescriptive toothpastes nor mouth rinses offered relief. I followed with a host of other suggestions from my dentist. Plus, I told myself (sternly!) to stop. But no, nothing seemed to help.
During the next few months confounding issues of Eden’s food allergies steamrollered over my quest for a mouth comfort. I was figuring out how to feed a growing toddler a balanced diet while strictly eliminating dairy, soy, nuts, fish, shellfish, seeds, legumes and few fruits from that diet. Another challenge was explaining his allergies to anyone (everyone?) let alone, a young child. Most parents will agree that toddlers can fixate on that which is unattainable. I didn’t know how to elaborate the reasons that the cereal boxes with round green stickers were “‘safe” but the ones with red stickers weren’t. And then there were the delicate issues surrounding his older sister. I wanted her to understand the import of her brother’s condition without giving her my fears. Eden will get sick from food. How sick? Die? The three had already learned to enjoy food fare such black bean chili, lasagna, cold cuts, grilled salmon and maybe a pizza delivery. Yet Eden’s plate was to be limited for a while to, say, soft meats, vegetables and home baked bread.