Remember my kid with the early pearly whites and the cute smile?

The cute little teeth that we painstakingly brush twice a day and floss nightly to keep looking perfect? That we made sure to maintain as healthy and straight as possible by not having her on a pacifier and being bottle-free since well before age 1 (per her pediatrician recommendations), not giving her juice and especially no bottle to sleep?

Allie was downstairs yesterday morning before we’d left for work; Mr. W was there with her and Jayne had already arrived. I was upstairs and heard Allie start crying. When I came down a few minutes later, she wasn’t crying anymore but was still slightly whimpering as I held her, and I asked her, “What happened?” She told me she went boom, and pointed to where it happened, at the travertine tiles in the hallway between the living room and the kitchen. Mr. W explained that he had gone into the kitchen and Allie went running after him, and tripped over the metal ledge at the doorway of the baby gate. (I’ve often looked at that thing when Allie would hold on to the side of the frame and step carefully over the metal bar at the bottom, and I’d wondered how many kids and people trip on that.) Apparently she’d gone flying onto the travertine tile floor. She seemed fine at that point and moved on to eat some nectarine and grapes. She did take one bite out of the nectarine and start looking at it funny, pointing to where she’d bitten it, and the refused to bite again, so we cut it up into pieces for her and she ate it fine that way. She appeared to be sucking on her lower lip so I thought there may have been injury there, but didn’t see anything upon inspection.

Well, as soon as I’d finished with my noontime yoga yesterday, I checked my phone and read this text message from Jayne.

I’m not sure if [Mr. W] listened to the message I left shortly after you left the house. Allie broke her 2 front teeth when she fell this morning, which is so bizarre because I saw her fall and I never would have thought it would result in her teeth getting chipped! You probably want to contact a pediatric dentist and have her checked. I was so sad when I noticed it. At first it seemed like she had only bitten the middle part of her upper lip. 🙁

I was SO angry. It completely ruined my afternoon. I texted back, “This is the first I heard of it. She’s not bleeding? Do the teeth seem loose?”
Jayne responded, “No to both. I did try to wiggle them and they seem ok. I just can’t figure out how they broke when all there was was a little irritation on her lip and no bruise to her face. I didn’t even think she hit any part of her face or head when she tripped. She’s had falls that have seemed worse. I was so nervous at the park that she might fall and break more of the 2 teeth. She can tell something is different but doesn’t seem to be uncomfortable. But I’m wondering if they should be checked. Thank goodness they’re baby teeth!”

I took the advice and checked on Yelp for good pediatric dentists near our home. Two offices popped up with 5-star reviews exclusively (meaning 100% of the people reviewing gave them 5 stars). The one slightly farther had more reviews, therefore more 5-stars; 5 dentists work there, but were all males and Allie does better with women right now. The one closer had less reviews altho they were also all 5-star reviews, had only 1 dentist, but she’s female and has a pair of twin toddler girls of her own. From the photos on Yelp, her office looks amazing, like visiting an aquarium museum. When I read that she graduated summa cum laude from UCLA School of Dentistry (Go Bruins!), it was a no-brainer. I called and spoke to a very nice receptionist who gave us a next-day appointment and took our dental insurance info over the phone so that she could call them and check for coverage before we get in there.

When I got home, I asked Allie to show me her teeth. This is what’s left.

She looks like a Turok-Han vampire from the “Buffy” series. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Thankfully, Allie’s behavior was no different and the sharp new points of her front teeth don’t deter her from sucking her thumb as she falls asleep. I did feel them while nursing her to sleep, but they didn’t hurt. Just felt sharp points pressing against my skin. She’s in the process of self-weaning so it wasn’t bad. For the past 4 nights she would stop nursing early on the first side and refuse the second side, telling me she’s “done-done,” and I like this tapering off because it helps my body adjust, too.

I keep thinking of things my dad said about my front teeth being knocked out in preschool. He’d said (in Mandarin) that my little teeth had recently all come in and were white and beautiful and I looked so cute when I smiled, and then they were knocked out, and he was and is still so mad.
In my situation, I was in preschool (my mom called it daycare), around 3 or 4 years old, and I was among a handful of kids who were on the playground “carousel” — a large metal disk platform with metal bars attached to the top of it at intervals so that the kids on the ground can spin the disk by pushing on the bars and the kids on the platform can hold on to the bars for support while the disk spun. We were taking turns being the spinner, and when it was my turn, I stepped off the disk with one hand, while the kid who was supposed to come on the platform for his turn suddenly decided to push the disk really hard and spin it again. I either fell against the metal bar or the bar hit me in the mouth, but I ended up losing both upper front teeth right there in the sand. I cried, of course, I remember how numb my lips felt afterwards, how swollen, and I remember the teacher on duty in the playground saying spitefully to me, “You deserve that. That’s what you get for running around.”
My mom’s memory picks up after that — she came to pick me up as usual after work, and when she called me, I turned around to greet her, and she saw my swollen mouth, half my face and clothing still crusted over with dried blood. She freaked out. The teacher turned and tossed over her shoulder, “Oh, she fell earlier.”
Both my parents were furious that they were never contacted by the daycare/preschool, and that I was never given any medical or any attention, not even to clean me up. They even went back to the playground over the weekend to try to find my teeth to see if a dentist could put them back in, but couldn’t find the teeth. I had a raging infection in my gums and lip for over a month, and didn’t have front teeth until my adult teeth grew in sometime between 2nd and 3rd grade.
I had front teeth for only a couple of years before I lost them for the next 5 or so years, so for me, it was just how things were; I didn’t feel like I was missing out on much, I wasn’t self-conscious, I just did my own thing. I never understood why my dad was still so upset, even to this day if it’s brought up.

I get it now. I keep thinking about how Allie will have a hard time biting into apples now, or eating her new favorite thing: sandwiches (she loves turkey, cheese & avocado on whole grain). How is she going to cut the noodles she loves in a bite? She can now drink through straws without having to open her mouth. 🙁 She has a photoshoot coming up in September, how’s she going to look in those photos, and every other photo until her permanent teeth come in? How will she be received by other kids when she starts school? Her smile looks “goofy” now, as her dad described.
Allie, however, much like I was, doesn’t appear to be very affected. She occasionally puts her fingers in her mouth to feel her new points, the tongue comes out as she prods the new jagged edges of her upper teeth, but nothing else is much different. Of course, we haven’t been giving her popsicles or sandwiches in the last day. I expect her to be temperature-sensitive for awhile.

Lots of people and/or their toddlers have been having teeth/gum injury issues in the past week, so at least Allie’s trendy.