Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Molar

Last week, I took my daughter to her orthodontist for a follow-up visit. We're done with all of the orthodontia (palate expander, head gear, braces) for now, but we were obligated to go in for "let's see how things look" visit. My assumption is that the doctor is just waiting patiently to see if my daughter's adult teeth turn out to be as jacked up as her baby teeth, in which case I assume he has a solution to the tune of a bajillion dollars. The visit turned out to be worthwhile, though, because he quickly spotted a problem.  The kid had a new molar coming in from the top. However, the baby tooth had neglected to vacate the premises. That wee little tooth was like, "Nah, I'm good." So, having nowhere to go, the new tooth decided to take up residence next to the old one. The new tooth was jutting right into the palate.  "This will have to be pulled," quoth the orthodontist.

So, I made an appointment with our next dentist for the following week. I'm sure my kid knew that she had a problem brewing in her mouth, but she tends not to tell me about these things. If I even suspect that a tooth is loose, I will nag her relentlessly to pull it out and make room for the new one.

I started dreading the appointment the very second I made it. My child has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to discomfort of any kind. She had a blister on her foot recently, and we had to hear about it for days. She will not swallow vitamins or pills of any kind. She will only take medication that is in liquid form and then only if it is grape flavored. She goes through band-aids like water. Pure drama. She called me from the bus stop one day last week. We've had some icy conditions lately. "Mom, I just wanted to let you know that I fell down three times on the way to the bus stop."  Now, just exactly what was I meant to do about this? Turn back time and somehow keep her upright on her two-block trek to the bus?

I did not know the procedure for pulling her tooth, so I was unable to explain it to her in detail. I talked to a co-worker who said that her dentist uses laughing gas and then uses the needle to inject the anesthetic into the gums. So, I thought the process might be like that. By the time I picked her up from school for the appointment on Thursday, she had whipped herself into quite the frenzy. "Dr. M is not in the business of hurting children," I told her. "I don't exactly know how he will get your tooth out of your head, but I really don't think it will hurt."

Before long, she was seated in the dentist's chair and Dr. M was explaining the procedure to her. She was nervous, I could tell. He loaded a cotton swab with some pink gel and deposited the gel inside my daughter's cheek. He then stuck one gloved finger in there and wiggled it around like crazy to distribute the goop.  Then, we had small talk with Dr. M's assistant while we waited for the gel to take effect. The kid was amazed by the changes that were taking place. "Mom, I can't feel part of my face!"

A few minutes later, the dentist returned to the exam room. He put some plastic glasses over my daughter's eyes. Then, he very casually draped his left hand over her eyes (but not in such a way that would cause her to think, "Why are you covering my eyes?") He then pulled back her cheek as the assistant handed him the needle. He told my daughter that he was going to push on her gums with his finger. "You'll just feel pressure," he said. Very deftly, he made a couple of quick jabs with the needle, and then passed it back to his assistant. We just recently switched to this new dentist and although I already liked the guy a lot, he definitely sealed the deal with this procedure. I mean, the kid never saw the needle and never knew she'd been injected.

Dr. M. left the room again for a few minutes to let the anesthetic fully take effect. When he returned, he grabbed one instrument, jabbed the stubborn molar out of place, and bam, it was over. He high-fived his patient, shook my hand, teased the kid about boys at school, and bid us adieu. I feel like he sort of makes up for all the shitty medical professionals I've encountered in my adult life.

As we were leaving the building, I told my daughter about the needle. I felt like I wanted her to know that extracting the tooth was more involved than just plucking it out. As luck would have it, she spotted Dr. M talking to someone in a side office. "You!" she exclaimed. He laughed.

So there you have it, the saga of the tooth extraction. They sent us home with some extra gauze. However, it was a good thing she didn't need it because the dogs chewed it up as soon as we got home




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