Today was scary. I was chatting with the ladies at the playground after school when my third grader came running up to me. He had been playing “groundies” on the jungle gym, some kind of tag game that the kids are fond of. I’ve seen it played with closed eyes, which I’ve discouraged for obvious reasons.
I could tell that something was very wrong but I couldn’t figure out what was going on. His top front tooth had come out and was lodged in his bottom lip. It looked so strange, I couldn’t wrap my head around it.
It was an adult tooth and the root was very long and unbroken, there was also a surprisingly small amount of blood.
I like to think that calmer minds prevail in situations like these but I am embarrassed to say that I completely freaked out. I didn’t know what to do.
This is one of those moments a parent dreads, when something happens to your child and you don’t know what to do. From the moment you hold that baby in your arms your singular goal in life is to keep them safe. Who is ever ready to face that moment? You never see it coming.
Fortunately a friend paved the way for me to the school where I took him to the empty nurse’s office. Thanks school budget cuts!
Another friend called Lonny and told him to come to the school immediately and she waited outside for him. One of the teachers was on hand and he had just the right touch. He got ice and, not knowing whether to pull the tooth out of his lip or not, stayed with him to make sure he didn’t swallow it.
Meanwhile he spoke soothingly about how he’s going to look way cooler and how this kind of thing is no big deal and how he did the exact same thing when he was a kid. I could have kissed him.
I called my dentist who told me to put the tooth in milk and come in immediately. I tried to stay calm but the mother in me, the one who can’t stand to see anything happen to her perfect baby, kind of went berserk.
WHAT DID YOU DO?! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?! WHO DID THIS TO YOU? I’M GOING TO KILL HIM!!!!
Yes, I wish I had a picture of him with his tooth sticking out of his lip and the thought crossed my mind for exactly 1/10th of a second, but seriously? That would have been crossing the line between being reporting on my life and failing to live it responsibly.
My boy was such a trooper. He sat in the back seat with the ice pack on his face and stayed calm. He even started a conversation with me about how he is opposed to increasing the population of Boulder. Apparently he had a guest speaker talk about city planning today.
His dentist (Corbett Summers, DDS who I am in love with now) dropped everything and rushed him into an exam room. They fished the tooth out of the milk and immediately pushed it back into place. It was hellish.
Time is of the essence in this situation. He later told me that in the case of a tooth falling out, you should immediately stick it back in. He said that usually the person is in shock and doesn’t feel much pain.
Of course my reaction was, “What?! I’m not a doctor! Isn’t that internal surgery or something?”
The faster you get it in there, the better the chances are of it “taking”. Anything past two hours is a lost cause. As it stood, they got it in there at around 45 minutes.
When a tooth falls out because of trauma to the gums (he fell and hit his face on a bar) the shock of the impact causes the wedge shaped front tooth to eject out, hence the lack of blood or broken roots. Getting the tooth back in there before there is much swelling or loss of blood supply is key.
They numbed the area and got it set all the way in and then splinted his tooth to the adjacent two teeth. I was so impressed with their work.
After two hours I was able to take him home for a milkshake dinner and DVD. I couldn’t believe how well he was coping. He hardly complained at all and went about his evening like nothing had happened.
We won’t know for about a month whether the tooth will hold or not. Hopefully the ligaments that hold the tooth in place will get enough of a blood supply and they will hold the root fast. The best case scenario is that he will need a root canal and a crown in about a month or two.
If the root starts dissolving or doesn’t take, it will be a very long time until he can be fit for a prosthetic because he is young and growing. Everyone, hope for the best. I loved his little gap toothed smile when he lost his baby teeth, but I really don’t want him to have to endure one until he is 15.
There is no crap to cut in this post. Maybe I’ll get to it later.
Thanks Dr. Summers, Rita, Kent, Kristen, Huong and Myriah. And thank you Grandma Mac, for talking to him on the phone when I was out of ideas and needed someone to tag out to.