So the thing with the current infection.
I was brushing Allie’s teeth last Thursday night when I noticed a weird shadow cast over the front of her gums, right above the broken left front tooth. That was the worse break of the two, the one closest to the nerve, and the one in which Allie’s pediatric dentist observed, at Allie’s last checkup a couple of months ago, what appeared to be a pinhole opening from the back of the tooth into the nerve. Ever since we’d gone to Dr. Wu after Allie’s fall last year, he’d told us to watch for discoloration of the broken teeth, abscess on the gums, and something else that I can’t remember (probably pain or redness in the gums). I’d THOUGHT her front left tooth looked a little dark in the center on the inside for a few weeks, like it was slightly gray, but Mr. W said he didn’t think it was gray, so I’d let it go. And suddenly, that Friday, her gums abscessed. It was a huge bump. Like, almost the size of her remaining partial tooth huge. It cast its own shadow, for gosh sakes.
I’d never seen an abscess on gums before, and just that week, my judge told me a story about how HIS gums grew an abscess after a root canal had gotten infected, and that was the first I’d heard of anyone having a bump grow on the gum. Thanks to his description, I knew immediately what Allie’s giant bump was, and that it’s an internal infection at the tooth’s root, growing outward. Thankfully, we already had the next day (Friday) off for the stepkidlet’s graduation from college. I called that Friday morning on the drive to the graduation and got squeezed in for an appointment that afternoon. Meanwhile, Allie was her usual cheery self and still hasn’t complained about or seemed to even know about her infection, which I already knew was going to lead either to a baby root canal or a tooth extraction.
After Allie’s nap, we were off to the dentist. Allie was super-duper cooperative with the medical procedures, as she usually is at any doctor’s office, and even held her own x-ray “film” (in quotes because it’s all digital imaging these days).
Said x-ray revealed that the bump is not a random coincidental unrelated gum blister, as I’d been hoping for, but is indeed a pretty significant infection at the tooth’s root. One-third of the root was already missing, and the dentist, Dr. Wu, explained that the tooth was basically already dead. The infection has to go somewhere, so it’s pushing out from the side of her gum. He was surprised and impressed that she’d shown no signs of pain. He said that given the severity of the infection, a baby root canal’s efficacy isn’t great, so our best shot to prevent damage to her adult tooth sitting right above the infection site, and to properly clean out the infection and prevent its spread (so her system doesn’t become septic), is to have that tooth pulled. The consequences of losing a baby tooth this early is that for the next 5-6 years, she’ll be missing that tooth, so it’s likely that the other teeth would collapse inward without that space holder especially since she’s a thumb-sucker (at bedtimes). That would lead to insufficient room for her adult tooth/teeth to descend, so they may be pretty crooked, and that would likely lead to needing braces when she’s older.
All this from a FALL when she tripped over her baby gate threshold last year!
Dr. Wu said he could put in a “flipper” as a space holder for the tooth, but it would force Allie to sit still for much longer, going through the tooth molding and installment process, and it would only be cosmetic (and poorly so), anyway, as far as its effectiveness. He said if it were his daughter in Allie’s position, he’d unquestionably pull the tooth and kids tolerate this very well and are just fine. He’d dope her up a little with laughing gas, put a numbing gel on her gum, give her a shot of Novocain, then pull the tooth out, the entire process taking about 2 minutes, he explained. We agreed to the treatment plan.
He went on to say that in the realm of kid issues and medical concerns, this is a “nothing.” After it heals in a week she’d be as “normal” as can be and we’ll worry about crooked teeth way later. I know that’s more likely true than not, since I had both my front teeth knocked out as a preschooler and I have no memories of difficulties or trauma. It just WAS and I didn’t think or care much about the space in my gums. My permanent teeth grew in just fine and I had perfectly straight teeth. But then I wasn’t a thumb or pacifier sucker. Speaking of sucking, it’s one thing to keep Allie from using straws and sippys when she’s healing (sucking would pull out the blood clot from the gum hole), but quite another to keep her from sucking her thumb as she falls asleep. No idea how that’s going to work.
Meanwhile, Allie is on a week’s worth of liquid Amoxicillin antibiotics to clear her abscess/infection before the dentist goes in to mess with it and create an open wound. I was nervous about medicating her, since college roommie’s daughter Alexis so loathed her antibiotics that she would run and hide behind furniture when she saw the medication being taken out, and just that week, I read this status message posted by a jujitsu friend who has a <1 year old daughter and a 4 year old daughter:
Anybody know how to get antibiotics into very small children without them being vomited right back up? The pharmacist said don’t mix them with anything, but so far, both girls have gagged and spit up at least one dose, and I’m sort of dreading 10 days of being covered in white, chalky, crud that smells like fake strawberries and quite clearly tastes awful.
Allie’s dentist said kids tend to like the antiobiotic liquid (Sandoz brand) he’s prescribing and it’s pink and tastes like strawberries. So I started prepping Allie ASAP. Leaving the dentist, we drove to Kaiser to fill her prescription, and in the car, I told her she’s getting her very own medicine, and it’s her favorite color of pink, and it’s yummy. She badly wanted her very own medicine. After receiving it from the pharmacist, Allie desperately wanted to hold the bottle, so we let her, and she was delighted to see that it is, indeed, pink. “Can I twy it? Can I taste it?” she asked. We told her not yet, and the entire car ride home she was begging, demanding, asking to “twy” the medicine, “dwink” the medicine, she wants it “now, not later.” “I want my medicine. Can I have my medicine? I just wanna hold it. Can I have it? I wanna drink it. Can I taste it?” At home, we filled the dispenser syringe with 5ml (1 tsp) of the pink stuff, I told her this is going to be really fun because she can suck on the syringe as we push the meds in her mouth, and she sucked it all up (we tried it with water first so she knew what to expect) and demanded more. She has SO taken to this medicine that we’re now using it as a bribe for her to finish her dinner. Just tonight…
Allie: I don’t wanna eat the gween thing.
Me: That’s spinach. You like spinach.
Allie: No, I don’t want it.
Me: Do you want medicine?
Allie: *face lighting up* Yeah!
Me: You have to finish the spinach to get to the medicine.
She ate all her dinner, including all her spinach, and she got her dose of medicine very happily. I don’t know what I’m gonna do after we’re done with the bottle. Guess I’ll have to go back to bribing her with multivitamins.
Tonight, after 6 days of antibiotic treatment, the abscess bump finally looks smaller, altho still present. Allie’s appointment for the tooth pull is on Monday. I keep thinking about how I should be taking photos like crazy of her adorable smile now, because after Monday, all her smiles will be with a crooked gap for the next 6-7 years. And after that, who knows what her adult tooth would look like coming in to a possibly crooked environment. But I am, however, comforted by the fact that we did wait about a year before having to do any medical intervention on the broken tooth, so that Allie doesn’t have to be put completely under for a procedure, like the first dentist wanted to do. And having found this 2nd dentist whom we love, we also got to save Allie’s other broken tooth, because even now, not one word was ever said about baby root canals or tooth extractions on the other broken tooth which is still asymptomatic. I think I’m pretty well-adjusted about the situation now, but I was seriously, seriously bummed on Friday after the return from the dentist. I’d posted then on the social networking site:
Cindy has never in her life cited scripture, much less purchased scripture jewelry, but this morning at Mariner’s Church for [the stepkidlet’s] graduation from Vanguard University, I happened across inscribed rings at the gift shop as I walked from the restroom to meet Allie and hubby at the campus cafe. Uncharacteristically, I bought two rings because they spoke to me (although almost all of the 30+ designs were beautifully done with a wide variety of touching scripture). This was before Allie’s dental appointment and the heavy feeling I now have knowing what she would soon endure. With all the healthy kids around me, I feel sad that Allie has to endure patching daily for many years until she has eye surgery, and has to endure the same number of years of being without a front tooth which would obviously affect her eating, her bedtime thumb-sucking (until the extraction wound heals), the ability for her adult teeth to come in easily, and both may get her made fun of in school when she starts attending. Why her? I wondered sadly. What lesson or purpose will reveal itself later?
I’d almost forgotten about the rings. I just pulled them out of my purse, and read the two inscriptions.
“I know the plans I have for you.” Jeremiah 29:11
“Fear not, for I am with you.” Isaiah 41:10
I was pre-fortified, and wasn’t aware of it. This status message was created with fingers dressed in His earlier and daily message to me. I hear You, and am grateful.
This status message garnered a lot of support, comforting anecdotes, reassurances from friends, for which I am also very grateful. Keeping fingers crossed for next Monday.