When I posted about what I hadn’t expected in the fall, I really, really didn’t expect what came next in As Our Dental World Turns. After I’d written that, thinking I was in the clear, I had to go through three rounds of antibiotics to treat a sinus infection caused by the wisdom tooth removal. And then an entirely NEW string of events began. But because the drama is now (fingers crossed, knocking on wood, offerings to the gods of fantastic dental health) over, I can tell you the story. I’m telling it because I think it’s a helpful mom story. This is a crafty blog, but it’s a mom crafty blog. My second kid has some obvious differences from the first, and I think if this situation with the second had happened with my first, I would have blamed myself entirely.
One day in November I was brushing M’s teeth and thought… hmm. That isn’t the shiny pretty molar that I remember seeing there. It looks like she’s been chewing toffee. I figured that it was at least a stain, and maybe a cavity. I took her in to see our family practice dentist. M had seen the same dentist along with her sister the previous March. At THAT appointment I was *totally* patting myself on the back for getting her in before she was two. I’d pay for that.
The dentist, who we’ll call #1, made some seriously grave faces. She said I needed to get her to a pediatric specialist ASAP. #1 said M had 5 or 6 cavities in her molars, and that they were bad. She later called me after studying M’s chart to say that there had to have been some sort of developmental problem. In March those teeth hadn’t even erupted yet. And 7 months later, they were in big trouble. Here’s where being the mom of two helped– I hadn’t treated the second kid any differently than the first. I got her in to see a dentist sooner, even. And it didn’t matter. They have very different teeth. I cried.
We got in to see dentist #2 the next day, who was part of a pediatric specialty group recommended by #1. She also saw 5 or 6 cavities, and said that at M’s age, we could do some temporary treatments (fillings that include fluoride to try to keep them from progressing) in the office in two visits, and that we should go ahead and schedule her for treatment at the hospital. That scheduling can take months, I was told. They’d need to put her under to do x-rays, caps and fillings.
We did the temporary treatments and scheduled the hospital for February. Dentist #2 said that the teeth had to have been damaged during development– maybe a fever at just the wrong moment? No way to know. She tried to reassure me that the problems were not anything I could control, but that felt hollow to me. I shouldn’t have given her candy. Ever. I cried more.
In December, January and February M had waves of illnesses, and with every fever, even though I knew there were plenty of bugs going around, I worried. Was the fever related to her teeth? Was I harming her for not pushing harder to get the work done? I wasn’t hounding the practice’s patient care coordinator as much as I could– mostly because I didn’t want to rush my kid into an OR. When she had a fever and ear infections too close to the scheduled date in February, the treatment was delayed. I breathed a sigh of relief. Sort of. And then decided that I didn’t have enough opinions. I wanted to be sure we were doing the right thing.
So I took M to see #3. He was also a family care dentist that I’d seen for a cleaning, and had worked on thousands of kids over the course of his career. I wanted to hear: “Oh, that’s totally not a big deal, I can take care of this in the office”. What I actually heard: “Wow, that’s the kind of thing I only see once in 20 years. The cavities aren’t just on top or in between, they wrap all the way around. You need to get her to a pedodontist”. So he referred me to one. More me crying.
We went to see #4. At this point #2 had rescheduled her for March 26, and I let that stay on the calendar while I felt out other options. #2 didn’t seem confident and in-control to me. And the patient care coordinator was annoyingly un-helpful, so I was hoping #4 would be better. #4 seemed to look at her thoroughly and said: “She has as many as 12 teeth with cavities. We could try it in the office, but the meds will make her act kind of drunk, and we don’t know whether she’ll be a cooperative drunk or an uncooperative drunk.” Well, I wasn’t so concerned about her being uncooperative. More concerned about the trauma of having to go back repeatedly and maybe never wanting to set foot in a dentist’s office again. And with her “soft teeth”, this dentist told me, she’d be in for a lot of visits. He said it could’ve been caused by a c-section (I didn’t have one) or by third-trimester stress (okay, there was some of that) or by a fever or by another infection that diverted bloodflow… a lot of reasons for why this happened and we’d never know for sure.
I appreciated that #4 took a good bit of time to explain what he saw, but wasn’t sold on him. It’s ridiculous to say that I was influenced by the way he treated his staff when his interaction with me was good, but I couldn’t shake the bad feeling I had about him while observing the office. He didn’t treat his staff all that nicely. I needed to stick with #2. More crying.
Because the hospital procedure had had to be rescheduled, the practice that included #2 had had to switch doctors, and I needed to take M in to see and meet the doc that would now be #5. Halleluia, she was faaaantastic. Confident, experienced, kind, obviously knowledgeable. I wished #5 had been #2, but the path lead me to her no matter. I felt so much better about proceeding, even though I was scared to death to put little M under. I still cried, but felt better about the plan. Two sweet friends who’d also had to do it were so reassuring. And it’s not something I’d heard much about otherwise, so I’m so grateful that they shared their stories with me.
So this morning at 5 am, we got up and got M up and out the door. She wanted to know why it was dark, because she typically wakes up at 8:30. We said we were going on an adventure. Fortunately she’d never had any pain from her teeth, so she’s still relatively happy about dentists. She also wanted to know why K wasn’t coming with us, and thankfully, she didn’t have to because Mimi had come to the rescue and could stay at home with her.
She couldn’t eat or drink, but since we were so far off of her normal schedule, that wasn’t hard because she didn’t even think to ask. We arrived at the hospital at 6. Shiny floors are for dancing and spinning.
She was totally happy to put on the “gween dwess” they had for her. She was way less happy about the socks that didn’t fit. She asked 47 times for “socks for me”– meaning, why don’t they have socks that fit my feet?!
There was a parade of people– nurses, physicians assistants, anesthesia guys and eventually the dentist. She got a cherry flavored soda sort of drink that was supposed to make her sleepy. Except it was more like drunk. She and the little boy on the other side of the curtain from us got it at the same time, and their words got slurrier and sillier simultaneously. It would have been funny if it weren’t sad. Eventually she was laying down and just barely awake.
They took her back at 7:35 after the dentist said “she’d take good care of our little girl”. Guess what? More crying. We waited and waited and waited… and I traded messages over Facebook with a crafty mom friend on the other side of the pond who also had a kid going under at the same exact moment. At 9:45 the dentist emerged, smiling. M had slept peacefully and was starting to wake up. She had only needed treatment on 8 teeth, with the back 4 being a big problem and the other 4 just in front of them being much lesser and probably dragged into the yuck by the seriousness of the ones behind them, and we’d need to be very attentive, but all looked good. Moooore crying, but this time, relief in the mix.
Recovery was no treat, and scarier-looking than I was ready for, but it moved along quickly. By 11:30 we were at home and she was starting to keep liquids down, and by the end of the day she was prancing around and eating normally, just looking a bit tired. It bums me out that she has four silver caps– something that seems increasingly unusual in kids these days, but I feel so much better knowing that she’s buttoned up– these teeth can’t be a problem. They’re silver superstar teeth. They’ll come out eventually, and we’ll be on high alert from now on. In the meantime, I don’t have to worry about whether fevers are tooth-related. We cross our fingers again and hope that she doesn’t have any similar problems with permanent teeth. They say there’s no way to know.
And you, crafty blog reader, actually DO get an unexpectedly crafty anecdote. Your treat for reading all of this un-craftiness. As we were getting her settled early this morning– in the gown and socks, on the scale for a weight, the nurse handed M a blanket made by Project Linus. I wasn’t sure that M would really care about a blanket, but boy did she. She wanted it neatly laid over her. She adjusted and readjusted as she wiggled around the bed, and when she wanted me to snuggle with her, she wanted it to be neatly across me as well. Because she’s not normally into special objects, not a “lovey” kid I hadn’t brought anything like that with us. Just hadn’t thought about it in the stream of thoughts about getting up at 5 am and diaper bags and insurance cards and forms and please-lord-let-my-kid-survive. It was a lovely highlight of an otherwise difficult morning, and it was heartwarming. After we got home she was happy to show off the new blanket to her sister and cuddle with it on the couch. To all of those Linus blanket making ladies out there, thank you.
And that’s the story. One that I couldn’t handle writing until it was all over. So relieved to share it with you with a happy ending. Maybe someone out there will also have a kid with superstar teeth and they’ll end up besties in kindergarten.