The Dentist Might Give You 3 Choices…

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To sum up THIS POST, I have 3 kids. 1 is the best toothbrusher that ever lived. The others are very average, at best. Unfortunately, it’s the future hygienist that’s had the cavities. Blame my genes. I, too, am cavity proned. My husband is not. My other 2, so far, are not.

One day, the Snow White Toothbrusher had a frown and a complaint of a toothache.” Oh, honey, you were probably flossing too hard again. Let’s give it a couple days. Tell me if it gets worse”. A week goes by.  Then, as I was tucking her in, she started crying. “Mom, it’s that tooth! It hurts again!” A gave her a dose of Motrin and vowed to be the first call into our wonderful pediatric dentist…and I was. They could see us at 9:30.

The dentist takes a look at the x-ray and tells us the filling on this tooth was sitting on a nerve. He gave me 3 choices.

1.  Try to redo the filling, which may not work.

2. Cap it.

3. Extract it.

Ummmm……um….I repeat the choices….can I have a minute…can I call my husband? We immediately decide NO WAY on extraction. Too traumatic. Too Braveheart. We decide to attempt a redo on the filling and if it didn’t work to cap it.

Maya starts sniffing at the bubble gum gas and watching Ice Age above her. I start to grow mad at….well….genes? cavities? things in life that just are not our fault despite our efforts? I pat her leg and hold her monkey bar callused hand.

Taking this picture and showing it to her helped fill the time with laughing, and coming up with what animals she looked like.

The dentist swoops in for the first round of the “poker” as Maya calls it. She yelps. She thrashes a little. Whew…we’re good. Dentist leaves to let the numbness settle in. I pat. I rub. I tease her about her funny bubble gum tube nose. She’s laughing again.

Then the drilling begins. Maya jumps and yells. She definitely felt that. The “poker” comes back. Maya’s kind, but assertive, “You said no more poker!”  I like that she stands up for herself. The dentist kindly explains he didn’t want her to feel any pain. Poke. Yelp. Thrash. Another hot tear. More pats. More hand squeezing. More time for the numbness to settle in. More Ice Age.

Drill. Drill. Drill. I could sense it wasn’t going well. More poker. She didn’t even feel that extra poke. The dentist says “Mom, can I talk to you outside a minute?” Sweating. Short breaths. He says, “The tooth is a bit wiggly.We need to extract it.”

Extract? Pull? Yank on my baby’s sweet little tooth that woke me up at night when she teethed it in? I tried to act all cool about it but really I was having visions of a violent upheaval in my baby’s mouth.

“You’ll put her all the way out, then…right?”

“No, actually, we’ll just turn the gas up a bit. I loaded her up with a high anesthetic, it won’t be painful.  I can pull it in literally 2 seconds”

I go back in and beg the hygienists for some gas. They laugh. I was serious. “CAN I PLEASE GET SOME LAUGHING GAS TOO? DO YOU HAVE MARGARITA FLAVORED?” They laugh again. I wasn’t laughing. Do they NOT have parent gas? (If this were a Hollywood movie or sitcom scene I would have hysterically grabbed the gas from my daughter or another patient and taken a few big whiffs)

The dentist says “Hey Maya, I’m gonna wiggle your tooth, ok?

“Ok” (Oh the innocence just killed me). I start squeezing Maya’s hands and praying. Gut reaction.

“1 (crack).. 2 (crack) (Maya yelling)…hey your tooth came right out!” (She told me later it actually wasn’t painful, just pressure/pulling and surprising). I finally opened my eyes again.

Maya tastes the blood and starts yelling with the sucker-upper-tube and gauze in her mouth, “I wanna go home! I just wanna go home!”  I also want to yell it so bad.  The dentist gets in a spacer (step 2) pretty quickly as Maya’s stress level rapidly decreases as she understands going home is next.

I felt like I had been punched in the gut. My amazing toothbrusher just had a tooth yanked. It seemed so unfair. I got her home after a few stoplight bloody gauze changes. Her face was a bit swollen and numb.  Her smile was crooked for hours. She made me take a picture and just laughed and laughed about it. That’s my girl. She couldn’t wait to go to school today to tell everyone all about it. The tooth fairy broke the $1 coin routine and gave her a $10. That’s the going rate at our house for brave, dentist yanked, bloody teeth.

I couldn’t wait to blog about it for therapy. The bad dreams have stopped now.

And, to let you all know, that after your best efforts, you may get 3 choices from the dentist…or doctor…or life. The choice you make may not work. Another choice may be taken away. And the final choice you’re left with may be painful. But, in the end, it will probably be ok. You will find your smile again…with or without margarita laughing gas.


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  1. you make me want to blog, but I’m completely intimidated by it. maybe i’ll give it a try one of these days. this is my latest fave. i come back to it when I’m having one of those mom-days. miss you.

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