Every time I think of going to the dentist, I can’t help but think of the scene from “Little Shop of Horrors” where Audrey’s sadistic boyfriend sings about how he became a dentist. I know a lot of nice people are dentists, but I do not like the dentist. I do not the sound of the drills and cleaning stuff. It hurts my teeth to even hear it from another room. I have tried not to let my fear and dislike of the dentist’s office show to my children, but it hasn’t mattered because we do not (and have never had) dental insurance, so we have not been to the dentist in… well, too long.
A week ago, after Sunday dinner, I noticed Parker’s cheek was a bit swollen. I thought perhaps he fell or tripped and hit his face on something. It’s been known to happen in our family. A lot. However, Parker was crying a bit and kept touching his tooth inside that cheek. So I talked to him a bit and looked at the tooth. He had a tooth ache. Poor thing! Parker has some pretty bad teeth. Just luck of the draw for some kids. No matter how well you actually take care of them, some kids (or adults, too) just have bad teeth. This particular tooth looked like it was completely rotted out. I had Ches call a guy we go to church with who is a dentist and who just bought his own practice. I wanted him to get the number of the practice so I could call and make an appointment in the morning. I realized that Parker’s cheek was swelling even more.
Parker was miserable all night and when he woke up in the morning it looked like he had a grapefruit stuck in his cheek. I had been giving him Tylenol for the pain, and I called the dentist’s office first thing in the morning. By the time he saw the dentist that afternoon (and I was able to look in Parker’s mouth again and see a huge sore on his gums next to the tooth he had been complaining about), Parker’s little face was ballooned out completely on the one side. Under and to the side of his eye, even. The dentist gave us a prescription for Amoxacillin and said to give him lots and lots of Ibuprofen for a couple of days to make the swelling go down. He scheduled Parker to come in the following Friday (two days ago) to have that tooth pulled, another tooth worked on (it’s not as bad as the first so they think they can save it, but it’s pretty bad still) and figure out when to do fillings on three front teeth.
The biggest obstacle is that Parker is only 3. The dentist explained that three year olds can’t really tell the difference between pain and pressure, and having a tooth pulled is a lot of pressure. Scott (the dentist) said he is quick, but he’d prefer to have Parker sedated just to get it all done and make it all easier. However, since we didn’t have insurance, I was worried about the cost. As much as I don’t want my son tortured, we can’t afford sedation. So they would give him the gas stuff (which I, personally, loved when I had my wisdom teeth pulled — all four at once, thank you very much, without being unconscious!) and I would get to help the assistant hold Parker down while the work was being done. Scott questioned if I would be able to handle it (it’s really really hard for moms to see their babies cry that much!), but I just didn’t feel like we had a choice.
We went to the pharmacy and went home. Within 12 hours the swelling was almost gone and Parker was having very little pain. Within 36 hours, the swelling was completely gone and Parker had no pain at all. I was pleased.
Friday morning, as I was taking Dallin to preschool, the dentist’s office called and said “We’re done with our patients, so if you want to bring Parker in now, that would be great!” So I made arrangements for Dallin, took a shower, and drove to the dentist’s.
Parker was given the blue bib thingy and he sat in the chair. The assistant prepared the tools, and showed Parker the sucker and let him touch it and kind of play with it for a minute. Scott came in to talk to us a couple of times, and Parker seemed to be getting comfortable in the chair. Unfortunately, the office had just gotten a new machine for the gas that morning, and it had a small leak. One of the dental assistants is pregnant, and Scott didn’t want her exposed to it. Don’t blame him for that one! Anyway, Scott took the machine outside to tighten it or whatever, and more gas came out. The leak got worse! So they were trying to get ahold of the company to come and replace it. (I heard them talking, and apparently the company said “That’s not our problem!” to which Scott replied, “It was all working fine until your guys touched it. It IS your problem!”)
So we rescheduled for Monday. A full week after we first saw the dentist, but that’s okay. Some people from church heard what was going on (I talk. And I posted stuff on Facebook!) and my friend Kim’s husband misunderstood the deal with the anesthesiology and thought Parker was getting nothing. He talked to a member of the bishopric, and they were very, very worried. The bishopric member called Scott and found out what was going on. He also mentioned another dentist (that neither Scott nor I know) who used to be in the same ward who would do the sedation for Parker and Scott could do the dental work. Scott was going to call that dentist and see what arrangements could be made for that because then we could get all the dental work done in one shot with very little stress for Parker (and a lot less stress for me).
And that’s where we sit right now. As far as I know right now, I’m taking Parker in tomorrow afternoon and going with the original plan of Happy Gas (that’s what I call it) and me holding him, but I may just get another phone call tomorrow and that could change again. Phew. And now you all know the whole story. Moral of the story? Take your kid to the dentist, even if you don’t have dental insurance. And trust your gut (if we had let that swelling get worse, the infection was headed toward a sinus where it then has access to the brain and that is just scary).
Thank you all for your prayers and good thoughts. Keep them up! I will keep you all updated.