I wish someone would have pulled me aside three years ago and told me to take my baby to the dentist; maybe then I would have been able to stop that train from derailing last week at my daughters expense. Instead, I sit here freezing my ass off at Starbucks writing about one of my biggest regrets in life.
So here's how it went down... after repeated attempts to get my husband to sign us up for dental insurance, I finally took matters into my own hands and signed us up. Two days after scheduling Isla's first cleaning, she walks into the bathroom and hands me part of her broken molar. I'm mortified, disgusted and exhaustively pissed off at myself--what the hell kind of parents have we become?!
I started brushing my daughter's teeth the day she was born... with a washcloth, twice daily. By the time she was two, she was brushing on her own and flossing every other tooth. I didn't worry too much; after all, they were just baby teeth. That would be my FIRST mistake. Though we had our fair share of snacks and sweets lying around, I justified them all by buying organic/natural ingredients, which would turn out to be mistake #2. But my biggest mistake was one that I never even saw coming.
As the dentist is going through the massive list of things to do with my daughters smile, she informs me that the juice, or flavored water rather, that we've been giving her has caused major tooth decay. "But there's no sugar, no calories... nothing! It's just flavored water?!" I advise, as if seeking approval. "It's not the sugar," she begins, "It's the citric acid. It's a killer." I'm sick. "I've never heard that before. Her doctor told us it was great for her. I had no idea." I advise. "Maybe so, but it's the worst thing for teeth!" At this point, I can't talk. I feel the tears well up in my eyes as she finishes her list, "Baby root canal, two crowns, and three fillings..." We spend the next twenty minutes discussing how to proceed and we both agree that IV sedation is the best option for us. "I'll call you when I can schedule a date with our anesthesiologist." she tells me. When I get to the car, I crank up Kids Place Live to muffle myself and I burst into tears. It's official: I'm a terrible mother.
That night, I sit Isla down for a long talk and introduce her to the new sheriff in town. "No more juice!" I tell her, trembling with fear. Aside from a few cries for an old friend, she takes it pretty well and we agree that she'll still be able to have (diluted) juice with meals only. I spend the next few days scouring the grocery shelves for juice that does NOT contain citric acid and; much to my dismay, aside from milk, there are only a few sugar & calorie soaked options. So, that's how it's gonna be... still, I can't figure it out: I grew up on processed food, candy and straight-up soda. My parents didn't take me to the dentist until I was five and, even then, I didn't have one cavity. WTF?
Last Tuesday, Isla told me her back tooth was really bothering her. "Does it hurt a little or a LOT?" I ask. "A lot." she says, cupping her jaw with her hand. I call the dentist to see how soon we can get this IV sedation set up, "She's in a lot of pain," I tell her. We decide there is no way we can wait until the anesthesiologist can schedule a time and I am forced to go to a third party dentist for immediate care. When I call them, they tell me they can probably get us in within two weeks. "No, no, no... that won't work!" I plead, "She's only four... I don't want to risk an abscess. Please... isn't there any way we can get her in sooner?" They transfer me to the guy who schedules the IV sedation. He's great and gets me set up for the next afternoon, but I need to get an exam with their facility beforehand. Poor Isla, never been to the dentist and now she's seen three in one week. Self-loathing at an all time high.
After the exam, they send us downstairs to talk to the sedation crew. They inform us that she will be given Ketamine (a/k/a special "K") prior to slipping in the actual IV. Though relieved she won't have the experience/memory of an IV dripping through her veins, the thought of watching my sweet little girl go catatonic is almost more than I can bear... but I couldn't bear not being there for her either. "It's gonna be a very long day," I thought to myself. ...And it was.
I can honestly say, the only thing worse than knowing my child was going to be catatonic was watching it happen in real time. While her father held her hands tight, the doctors held her legs down and injected the shot. Me? There I was, kneeling on the floor behind her, sobbing like a baby, stroking her hair and telling her repeatedly, "It's gonna be okay." It was the worst thirty seconds of my life. In the end, she had two root canals, two crowns, an extracted molar, a spacer, two fillings and parents who learned a valuable lesson at her expense. The only positive that came out of this experience is knowing that these are not her adult teeth. She has a second chance at a healthy smile and I don't dare screw it up for her (twice). It's a shame they don't teach you the importance of baby teeth when you actually have a baby. If my pediatrician had encouraged me to take her to the dentist upon getting her first tooth, I would have done so without hesitation. Live, learn, pass it on; and for Christ's sake... take good care of that shit eaten' grin!