Friday, July 20, 2012


Nathan has a loose tooth. Well, actually, he already lost one, but this is the first one that's been loose in his mouth before the big exit. His first lost tooth has been replaced by a permanent tooth that's just broken through the gum. How space was made for that first pearly new permanent tooth is a tale of brotherly affection.

About three weeks ago, my boys were doing the thing they love best, chasing each other, shoving, wrestling, typical boy stuff. I wasn't paying much attention; it was just too normal to warrant any concern. Suddenly, I heard it--the cry. All moms know the cry. It's the one that instantly tells you that your baby has sustained an injury. I popped up from the couch lickety-split, ready to assess damage, kiss boo-boos, assign blame and dole out punishments.

Nathan was crying. "Daniel head-butted me!" Then he said, a little surprised and fishing something from his mouth, "Mama, my tooth came out!" I could see that his gum was bleeding from the newly empty socket, so I rushed him to the bathroom, tooth still in Nathan's hand, trying to save my beige-colored carpet from indelible blood stains. As I grabbed a cloth to wet and apply to his gum, Nathan, who was checking out the tooth in his hand, suddenly lost his grip and the tooth went right down the drain. Gone. Forever.

I tried to keep my calm. After all, Nathan was about that age, I thought. So I played it off nicely. "Yay, Nathan! You lost your first tooth!" Yet inwardly, mommy script was running. "Okay, I don't think that tooth was loose. Daniel's head just made it come out. I hope there's not still a root in there or a tooth fragment. I better inspect the gum. Gum is red. What does gum look like after loss of baby tooth? I think I'd better check the internet."

Everything I read on the internet about traumatic loss of baby teeth said it was probably fine, but to check with a dentist in case of a partially retained tooth, which could cause the permanent tooth to grow in crooked. I also read that if the tooth could not be recovered, imaging should be done to be sure the tooth wasn't aspirated. "Wow, glad I dodged that bullet. At least I saw the tooth for two seconds before it went down the drain."

I did not want to take the kids to the dentist though. Neglectful parent you may think I am, but my kids have never been to the dentist. And, most importantly, they do not currently have dental insurance. I did not want to spend a hundred dollars for a dentist to look in Nathan's mouth, say, "Yeah, it's fine," and send us merrily on our way.

Yet I didn't want to not take Nathan and then have something go terribly wrong. I imagined the worse. Tooth abcesses. Infection of the gum. Systemic infection. I simply could not go on without consulting a professional. So I called my wonderful dentist during his off hours at his emergencies only, home number. I got his wife who rapidly passed the phone to Dr. Lee after hearing my slightly incoherent account of how my son had a tooth knocked out of his mouth by his brother's head. After I gave Dr. Lee the rundown of the whole scenario (which actually made him laugh quite a bit), he asked whether it was a permanent tooth, and upon ascertaining that it was not, assured me that I had nothing to worry about and nothing I needed to do.

I don't know that I would have chosen to have Nathan's first tooth knocked out that way. (I do not need that much excitement.) Nonetheless, there were pros and cons to the situation. Pro: No dread factor. No trying to figure out how to get out a tooth hanging by a thread. No dealing with the tooth fairy issue. (We haven't done Santa Clause with the boys, and I don't think we'll do the tooth fairy either. Just trying to keep it real, people.) Finding out how truly wonderful and caring our dentist is. Cons: No consolation prize. Lots of stress for mommy. And now knowing that my child could aspirate his tooth. (Honestly never crossed my mind before.)

Well, we'll see how it goes down the second time round. I'm seriously considering feeding my child a Now and Later or a caramel apple.

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