Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Everyone fantasizes that their child is perfect (don't they?) so it's a resounding blow when they turn out to have flaws. In Jarrah's case, the flaws are hidden deep in her sparkling, white teeth.

You know, the teeth she's had for LESS THAN A YEAR. Hello! How can they get ruined so fast? Was it too many fruit leathers? Don't answer that.

We had Jarrah's first dentist appointment on Tuesday, and superficially, it went pretty well. She cried during the x-rays, but I don't blame her; I often want to cry when they wedge those hard little origami shapes into my soft palate, too. She was a docile lamb during the cleaning, and even seemed to dig sucking on the air tube. She even submitted without struggle to the dentist exam with the pokey thing.

It was during that exam that I sensed things going south. First of all, he was doing way too much talking, all about "buccal" and "pulp" and other words you don't want to hear. "Shiny" and "dazzling," yes. But please, spare us the pulp.

Turns out Jarrah has a whole mess of cavities. "Is it genetic?" I asked, wanting immediately to extricate myself from the hook. "That, and diet and dental care," the dentist said. He was young, and very handsome. He congratulated me for adopting. Enough said about that. Okay, one more thing. I wish I had asked him if he has children, and then exclaimed, "Congratulations for having sex! What a wonderful thing you did."

This doc doesn't mess around with toddler cavities. He offered two options, but only after Jarrah was discreetly led away to claim her balloon. ("Oh, so sorry. Thanks for playing! We have some nice parting gifts for you.") Both the options involved drugs, either oral or intraveneous. One of them involved strapping Jarrah down to something called a "papoose board." Yes, Readers, let your imaginations run wild with that. They won't end up anywhere good.

And then, as I'm sitting there gripped in a full-blown panic attack at the thought of my baby going to sleep and never waking up, or the alluring alternative of her being awake and trussed like a goose so she fears dentists the rest of her life, a nice lady presents me with the break-down of costs, none covered by insurance. As my eyebrows were disappearing into my hairline, I mused:

Oh my stars, kids are expensive. I knew that, but I hadn't realized how UNPREDICTABLY expensive.

We're still on the fence about what to do. I never imagined making this kind of decision so early in the game, but that's just silly, because...does anyone? You take it as it comes.

And because my morning had been a little too relaxing, I had to go to my own dentist in the afternoon, an emergency appointment for a broken filling. And because I've developed some kind of Dental Panic Disorder in the past five years, it took about a dozen freakin' shots to get me numb, and I was still yelping and waving my left arm like a drowning victim every time she so much as shadowed me with the drill. Three hours later, I had my new filling, and the left side of my head was frozen from neck to eyeball until bedtime.

Teeth, why must you torment us so?


Anonymous said...

Dear Sam,

I am so sorry about Jarrah's teeth.

Everything will be O.K. I promise.

Big Hugs to you all.



Jen said...

Hey, Miss S,

I am SOOOO sorry to hear about this. It probably doesn't make you feel any better, but I think cavities in baby teeth are pretty common, so at least you can know you are not suffering completely alone (though it probably feels like that). You are all so resilient that I am sure that you will come through it fine!

If you'd like some ideas about alternative ways to deal with it, or just some comisseration, you might check out mothering.commune at

They have a whole section on "Health and Healing," with a subsection on "Dental." There is a thread there right now about a 2.5-year-old needing fillings.

Good luck with it. She's a trooper and I'm sure she'll do just great.

Miss J

Jacob said...

What a difficult moment, to have you with your arm waving like a drowning victim (she still writes with a vengeance, even when stressed) and pondering your daughter's dental work. Jacob had to have his two front teeth filed smooth with an electric dental file at 1, after he crashed landed into my (baby-bumper protected) fireplace and chipped them. Emergency surgery at 1. Ai yi yi. We both survived it, but we've taken a new approach to the dentist now. We've negotiated a wonderful toy (we chose a dino with "big teeth") as a reward for his cleaning this year. Now he thinks of the dentist differently.
Take care of yourself, and my best to you both, as you decide.