DEAR ABBY: My husband has developed a bad case of periodontal disease. I'm afraid to kiss him because I don't want the bacteria causing the disease to spread and his bad breath is unbearable. Our sex life is suffering because of it.
We have two beautiful children together, and I love him very much -- even if he loses all his teeth at the age of 37. I have explained how extremely important oral hygiene is to overall health, especially heart health, and how his unwillingness to deal with this sends the wrong message to our kids. He simply refuses or conveniently "forgets." When I asked him why, he said his mother traumatized him about it as a child.
My children are starting to take notice now. My daughter doesn't want to go near him, and my son thinks it's OK to not brush his teeth because his father doesn't. As you can see, this is disrupting our family. What kind of advice could I give him to get him to start taking care of his mouth? -- WIT'S END IN FLORIDA
DEAR WIT'S END: That your son is modeling his behavior after his father is terrible. There are psychologists who help patients overcome phobias and dentists who specialize in patients with your husband's problem. If necessary, dental work can be done under complete sedation.
If your husband would be willing to listen to your family doctor or the children's pediatrician, perhaps one of them can get through to him the importance of conquering his fear before it causes lasting damage to the next generation.