Teething at 39

The best part about losing a tooth…the fairy!

This past Saturday Little T had an appointment for some major dental work involving 3 crowns and a spacer for a tooth that was pulled a few months ago.  All this required work is a result of cavities.  Never having one myself, it is something that I am having a hard time dealing with.   When we were first told that Little T at the age of 4 had 4 cavities (after a previous 6-month routine visit with no issues) I was mortified and couldn’t figure out why as his diet was not filled with sweets.  But, I then learned 100% fruit juice can cause cavities, and he was drinking quite a bit of it.  His morning routine of eating granola bars likely didn’t help either.  Hubby has a mouth-full of treated cavities so Little T likely inherited softer teeth from his dad, but I still can’t help feeling responsible for the holes. Ever since, I have been more careful about what he eats, greatly reduced the amount of juice, give him sugarless gum in between meals and snacks, and added a children’s mouthwash to his brushing routine.

During a recent appointment where they had to pull an abscessed tooth (again, because of a cavity that a filling couldn’t fix) they discovered ANOTHER cavity behind his upper front tooth.  It felt like another punch to my motherly self-esteem.  I asked if they had any indication of other cavities forming. After taking x-rays they discovered that 3 of his previously filled cavities had worn down and that he should have crowns put in all 3 teeth to save them.  But, in order to do that kind of dental work, they would have to put him to sleep with Anesthesia.

Knowing Little T would be given something to put them to sleep was a frightening feeling for me.  But this is where I love Google Search.  I somehow stumbled upon a posting from a mother who was anxious about her 3-yr old daughter who had to have Anesthesia for a crown. The posts of replies were incredibly encouraging for me, especially the one mom who said she took comfort knowing that the odds were higher of something happening to her daughter on the way to the appointment in the car verses the actual procedure.  I think it was also comforting reading about other parents who have young children with cavities.

The dentist called a few days before Little T’s appointment to confirm the time we should come for the surgery.  When she informed me it was scheduled for 11:15am, I was not impressed.  Little T couldn’t eat or drink anything for 6 hours before his appointment, so that meant he wasn’t able to have anything when he would wake up that morning. The mama bear came out in full force, and even though the dentist seemed sympathetic to my concern of such a late appointment, that was the time (so in other words, just suck it up).

I didn’t tell Little T about the appointment until we were walking home from school Friday afternoon. I wanted to explain it to him in a casual way, but he burst into tears nonetheless when he heard that he would be given “dream gas” to make him sleep.  I decided he needed a diversion, so I suggested we go to McDonald’s for a toy lunch and later he can pick out a new movie to watch, explaining that after his teeth were fixed he would need to rest and relax the remainder of the day.  This cheered him up, and I was thankful that the McDonald’s had a Café with a good cappuccino.

The dreaded morning arrived. Little T knew he couldn’t have anything to eat or drink and seemed OK with it until I came down to boil water for coffee.  He immediately informed me that it was not fair if I could drink coffee and he couldn’t drink anything.  He was absolutely right, but I couldn’t figure out a way to explain it to him that he was in his best interest that Mommy has her morning coffee.  Even though a part of me thought I shouldn’t eat or drink anything either, the other part of me knew that I had to take care of him after and needed the strength. I didn’t plan to eat in front of him as that would be way too cruel, and I planned to drink my coffee in bed far away from him.  After his constant reminders of how it wasn’t right for me to drink coffee, I gave up making it and went upstairs and told Hubby to do the dirty deed.

To help pass the time until his appointment, I suggested Little T have a bath and use some special bath crystals that go POP POP POP.  He agreed to it, and happily had a bath for almost an hour without complaining about not having any food or water.  While I was reading him stories to help keep him occupied, the dentist called to say we need to come a half an hour later as they were running behind. Without thinking, my reaction was rather hysterical “What do you mean?  My son is really hungry!  Why is there a delay??” (All of this, of course, in likely hard-to-understand-what-freaky-English-mother-is-saying-in-German).  The dentist apologized, but said there was nothing they could do. 

After ending the call in a huff, I immediately felt embarrassed, and wondered why I had to be such a bitch! It was actually a nice gesture that they called instead of having us wait in the dentist office for an extra half hour.  And, as Hubby pointed out the day before when I was freaking out about the late morning appointment, that lots of kids don’t even get breakfast.  Again, maybe it was my over-protective nature coming out. Regardless, I felt like an idiot.

When we arrived for the surgery, the receptionist cautiously asked if Little T had anything to eat or drink, likely prepared for me to bite her head off. I smiled and shook my head no.  After the embarrassing phone call, I decided that I needed to get a grip and have a more positive attitude about this whole thing, for Little T’s sake and my own.

Before I knew it, Little T was walking away with Hubby into the room for his surgery. They only wanted one parent in the room while he fell asleep, so Hubby went in case there was a language issue. Besides, I’m not sure if I could have watched him being put to sleep.  I realized that I didn’t get a chance to give him a kiss before he went, but maybe that too was a good thing to help keep the experience as normal as possible so he wouldn’t be more scared.

An hour later it was finished, and the dentist delivered good news that they only had to put one crown on as they were able to fix the other two teeth.  Both of us were asked to sit with Little T able while he came out of the Anesthesia. Which was a good thing, as Little T didn’t come too very quietly. In fact, I think the grocery store down the street heard his screams.  I felt really bad for the two kids in the waiting room. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the bolted out the front door.  Little T’s biggest demand was water, but we dentist advised to wait until we got home as the water may make him sick en route.  After we arrived home, Little T loudly complained about having a sore tummy and mouth, and fortunately fell back asleep. An hour later, he woke up a bit more cheerier, and was rather excited at Daddy’s suggestion to watch Spiderman “as a treat”.

As each hour went by, he became more and more perky, and hungrier!  He polished off a bowl of soup, a peanut butter wrapper, 3 eggs, 4 pieces of toast and an apple.  By 7pm he was upstairs happily playing in his room.  It amazed me how he could bounce back from something like that so quickly.  Maybe that’s the advantage of being a child – you don’t dwell on the pain unlike an adult does. It was another good lesson I learned that day.

And today, Little T was completely himself, saying that his teeth only hurt a little bit.  Later in the afternoon he was furious when he was denied to eat a chocolate bar.

Obviously, the whole dental ordeal was more traumatic for his mother.

One thought on “Teething at 39

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