Thursday, June 20, 2013

picture yourself in a boat on a river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies

During our first visit to the pediatric dentist ... way back when the triplets were 18-months old, we were told that Elizabeth had a labial frenulum on her bottom lip. The dentist told us that one day, it might need to be clipped, if it caused any problem with her teeth.   


Even though I still brush (or closely supervise) the children's teeth brushing every night - I haven't really noticed that the gum surrounding one of Elizabeth's lower teeth was receding until the dentist pointed it out to me during our last visit.  And of course once I saw it - I felt like a dope that I'd missed it because it was so obvious. We were told that the frenulum needed to be removed and the lower gum needed a graft. But because our dentist doesn't perform those types of procedures in their office, we were referred to a periodontist. 

Elizabeth and I went for the periodontal consultation last month, because as it turns out - I need a gum graft, too.  My lower gums have receded as a result of this whole aging thing and I now have to carry a toothpick with me at all times.  The periodontist felt that Elizabeth's procedure was more time critical than mine, so she was scheduled to go first.  

Today was her procedure and I took the day off from work so I could be with her. 


The front office staff gave her an oversized toy toothbrush and stuffed walrus to hold, and the periodontist let her wear his glasses.  


They gave her nitrous oxide to take off the edge and as I watched her, she completely checked out. Her eyes were open - but she was in a different world.  After a minute or two, her eyes focused on me and she slowly said, "Mom ... I'm swimming in purple Jell-O!"

The doctor gave her a shot to numb her gums and unlike Henry, who had a minor dental procedure last month to remove an inflamed salivary gland and could be heard screaming two doors down, Elizabeth didn't flinch.  She just quietly said, "Ow. I felt that."


The nitrous oxide stayed on the whole time and everything was going fine, until the doctor cranked up the oxygen on the nitrous solution and as Elizabeth zoned back in to reality - she asked if she could look at her mouth. And before I could contemplate the repercussions of my daughter looking at her own cut and bleeding tissue, she was handed a mirror and all the blood drained from her face. 


Approximately 12 stitches later, she took one last look at the finished product.

We went to the store and bought ice cream. A lot of ice cream. And by the time we arrived home, my poor little one was in tears.  When I asked her if she would come with me and hold my hand when I had to have my procedure completed, she shook her head and said, "No, I'm sorry but I can't go back there. I'll be too freaked out." Then she picked up my camera and said, "Here, take a picture of me. You can look at this and imagine I'm there swimming with you in the purple Jell-O."  


Here's my little trooper tonight ... laying in our bed, eating her third bowl of ice cream, watching the Miss USA pageant while waiting for Daddy to come home with her prescription for Tylenol with codeine. 


The only thing I regret more than not having her prescription filled sooner in the day, is that I should have gone first so I'd know what to expect and could have been better prepared for managing her pain because Tylenol straight-up just wasn't enough.  Or, why didn't I do the procedure when she was younger, before her gums receded?  And why didn't I do more research about alternatives to skin grafts?  Surely there could have been other options. Just tonight, I found this

Ugh. It's so hard to see your children in pain so of course, the normal thing to do is inflict some of it on yourself. 


  1. Oh poor sweet Elizabeth. I am so sad for her. :( And sad for you too because seeing your child in pain is just THE WORST.

    Please let her know that your blog readers are cheering for her.

  2. I had that at about her age too. I distinctly remember it is being no fun and worse than tooth extractions or braces. :( But hey, ice cream fixes many things!

  3. Poor kiddo. What a trooper, though! It's too bad they don't give you the prescription before your appointment when little kids are involved.

  4. Warm bunny hugs and rainboe jeollo dreams to you, our brave, brave girl!

  5. Jen,

    You followed the recommendations of the professionals. You did the best you could with the information you had. Please don't beat yourself up.

    That study of SIX patients published in 2009, does not instill a lot of confidence in the alternative procedure.

    Hope Elizabeth is back to feeling like her normal self soon!


  6. I'm surprised the periodontist didn't suggest to get the prescription filled immediately. I have had this surgery and it was not fun. My peri told me to fill the prescription before I came to the appointment so I could keep on top of the pain. Also, thanks for the link in case we ever need this again.