The last time Jack went in to get his teeth cleaned, the dentist expressed grave concern over his teeth. See, at the visit before, she’d already noted that some of his back teeth were soft and not properly formed and that they were prone to decay, no matter what we did. When she saw what had happened in the
six eight months since his last appointment, she was extra worried.
As if Jack didn’t have enough problems.
She is a great dentist, but doesn’t specialize in either children or special needs individuals, so she referred us to a pediatric dentist with that exact specialty and told us to go there as soon as possible.
Of course it took us three months to get an appointment.
That appointment rolled around today. After an exam and x-rays, the dentist told me about Jack’s three cavities in his soft teeth. She also used phrases such as, “seal this fourth one,” “may have to crown this one,” and “we need to get to this one quickly to prevent a total root canal.”
Naturally, her next opening was in April.
But then she told me about an opening in the afternoon this very day and we decided that we would come back to take care of the worst tooth; the other two could be fixed later. Because it was a same-day appointment, we would have to forgo the pre-visit Valium and rely just on laughing gas. Based on Jack’s temperament and his history of mellow, even enthusiastic, behavior at dentists in the past, we figured this would be all right.
In fact, this might have been a mistake.
Once we got in the room, I put Sam and Quinn in the corner with their video games, Jack selected “marshmallow” as his preferred scent for his laughing gas, and the dentist pulled out the biggest motherfucking needle I have ever seen in my life.
Somehow they managed to disguise what they were doing. Jack never even knew that they gave him a shot.
At this point I was optimistic, but things went downhill from there. First his hands started to clench and he kept trying to point to his mouth. Then his legs started to twitch. Then he started to moan. Then, as much as possible with the entire dentist’s office in his mouth, he started to tell us—AS LOUDLY AS POSSIBLE—how unhappy he was with the situation. Then his body started to contort.
I’m pretty sure most of it was sensory discomfort. I really do. I don’t think he perceives that kind of thing as pain, but I do believe that it was not an easily tolerable situation for him. Of course, at some point, we passed the point of no return, but until then, the dentist was making sure that he was able to handle it.
As the screaming got louder, however, she worked faster and faster.
And, oh dear lord, the screaming. Because that’s where we ended up. Screaming. The dentist asked an assistant to close the door, I assume to muffle the sounds of the torture chamber.
After it was all over, Jack kept asking me to “take it out!” because he didn’t quite understand that his numbness wasn’t a foreign object in his mouth.
Being the empathetic souls that they are, Sam and Quinn didn’t look up once.
Oh, it was terrible. Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything we could have/should have done differently. That tooth needed to be fixed ASAP and everyone did the best they could, but I gotta tell you, I’m not sorry that we weren’t able to make an appointment for the other two teeth until April.
We’ll be giving him Valium before those appointments, that’s for sure.
I have a photograph of Jack wearing his little oxygen mask because he wanted to look in a mirror, but I didn’t have one so took a photo instead. I was going to post it, but you know what? It is too sad. I just can’t do it. He looks so distressed in the photo, I just don’t have the heart to put it up here. Instead you can see this one, which I took shortly before bedtime, after he had forgiven me.
I recognize that this doesn’t make me sound like the best tooth parent, but I swear that Jack brushes his teeth twice a day and he uses a dentist-recommended rinse every day, and I swear to God we are going to start helping him floss his teeth every single day from now on. I would also like to say that I would gladly undergo a root canal with no sedation if Jack never had to go to the dentist again.
Also, I’m looking into some Valium for me at those next appointments as well.