Friday, October 22, 2010

The Tooth Fairy...

Some of our pillow talk the past two weeks has been reminiscing (and finally able to look back and giggle) about the traumatic days of taking the teenager to the dentist from the time he was a baby.
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It all started as a tiny baby, before he even had teeth when he was crawling on the floor and found one of our bowling balls that he could push around. It was all fun until he got hurt when it rolled out from under his little hands and he bumped his mouth on it going down. He had a blister like bump on his gums and so we took him to the dentist to make sure he hadn't done any permanent damage, or that it wouldn't have an adverse affect on his teeth coming in.
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Later when the two front teeth came him, they had some dark spots on them and so he was in the dentists office much earlier than any normal kid. But we were assured those baby teeth would fall out and his permanent teeth would be fine.
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This wonderful dentist was right. And when the permanent teeth came in, he was the only one who the baby teenager would see. However, it was never ever "a good time was had by all" visit. Ever!
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He was terrified going to the dentist! Absolutely terrified!!
Screaming and crying and fits and stomping and dropping to the floor terrified.
We have no idea where this came from.
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Even his first teeth cleaning took 3 visits...
1st time - Just to convince him to open his mouth. I don't know how long he worked with him coaxing and persuading and rationalizing with him, and even bribes wouldn't work. Eventually he got a split second view.. and then let him out of the chair praising him and telling him how good he had done, in hopes to build up his confidence for another visit.
2nd time - to let him touch a tooth. More coaxing and persuading and bribing... just to let him get in there and touch one of his teeth, with an instrument. There were talks between the two of them about what instruments he would use... the kid asked him if he used a chainsaw, what? The dentist would question us about the movies he was watching and give us suggestions of conversations to have with him. Seriously we have no idea where this all came from. But he kept his promise and let him leave after he finally let him touch a tooth with an instrument (something other than a chainsaw).
3rd time - I think even this patient man knew the kid was not going to love it or ever earn enough trust, so he gently but strictly went in and got them clean, just enduring through all of the the crying and screaming.
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We would try and sit and hold his hand, or bring a comforting item for him to squeeze.
But eventually all of the adults involved decided it was best for us to drop him off and leave the office. We would walk next door or far enough out that we couldn't hear him. It became as traumatic for us as parents as much as it was for him. Nobody wants to leave your child in the hands of another when they are this upset. We tried sending him with his Papa who he loved and admired so much and always believed his promises. But that was traumatic too.
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We recounted the visits, the trauma, how patient that dentist was for years and years and years. And his final visit with him after we had moved to Idaho and would take trips back to Seattle just to see this patient man, we knew there would be nobody new that we could convince to put up with that ordeal (he had to schedule this kid with no other children at the same time, because it was giving him a bad rap). The very last visit, he made it through with out any crying or screaming... seriously, and he was officially a teenager at that time.
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I am not exaggerating when I say it has been a very long road.
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So after all the traumatic trips to Dr. Colton's office. We have arrived!
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We finally found a dentist here we were referred to, and his Dad had been to see him and really loved him. The teenagers friend also referred him and loved him. And with all the preparation for his mission, he knew he would have to get signed off on a healthy set of teeth and with wisdom teeth coming in... he better get them pulled and get started on it sooner than later.
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Hoping not to miss too much time from work, he got an appt set up for the cleaning and xrays. Anticipating he could get the wisdom teeth pulled over Thanksgiving week and be able to recover without missing out on the work that he is so excited to be doing that is helping him earn the rest of the money for his mission.
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The child went in, got his work done and not only didn't cry, loves his new dentist!
He had some good news and bad news... he did have cavities, 5 of them. And one was big enough he will need a route canal (not totally surprising since it has been soooo long since he has been to the dentist... I feel like a horrible Mother, with all these disclaimers).
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But the good news and trade off for that is that he has plenty of room for all of his wisdom teeth and 3 of the 4 are all in. So as long as he takes really really good care of them, he can keep them. And the dentist said he would be checking on that between now and when he gets his final cleaning and check off before his mission... if he isn't taking good care of them, he will know and first give him a pink timer (like he gives the little girls to time how long they are brushing... I tell you I love this dentist) and then if he finds he isn't taking good care of them he will pull them anyway, because they can get bad really fast. This incentive seems to be working!
I don't think he wants to be given a pink timer!!
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They worked up a plan for 3 visits to get all his work done and the teenager was able to pay for it all by himself, (we are soooo proud of him)! He paid for everything up front and he got a little missionary discount out of the deal... which was awesome and amazing (his dentist is a pretty young return missionary himself, so they related well to each other and he was so compassionate, but firm... just what the teenager needed)!!
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After writing the check he got in the car and gulped at the chunk of money gone from what he has been scrimping and saving (with a slight swelling of alligator tears only a mother would see), he then swallowed the lump in his throat and resolved to keep working hard and he was sure he could build it right back up to where he had it in no time (I love the positive thinking... that's my boy).
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He was quickly just relieved it was over and he didn't have a debt hanging over his head, happy to have a personal experience to share in his college class... as they are discussing personal finances and debt.
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Then when we got home he proudly wanted to show off all the cool work he had gotten done (including the cutting away of the gum flap from around his wisdom teeth.. YUK!!) to his squeamish Mom. I looked, it wasn't as bad as I thought. And he was so proud to show it off!
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No pictures all morning... I was just really trying to hang on and survive the experience!
I had no idea what to expect from all that he had been through, and then when he woke me up the night before in the middle of the night, worried about what it was going to cost him? He had been searching on the Internet and read somewhere $300 a tooth to pull a wisdom tooth.... I guess that is why Mothers are given seeds of patience and nurturing. His Dad slept through the entire night before drama.
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Much to my surprise it went so well, he has come such a long way.
He feels good about the whole experience, he is happy to have a plan to move forward with his teeth. He seems very inspired to take better care of his teeth now.
(hmmm maybe we should have made him work and pay for it at age 5)
And he wants to keep working hard to earn the money he needs to put back into his bank account and keep saving for his mission and then after that his education.
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He has arrived! (insert harking angels singing here)
It has been a really long road!!
I will have to send a note to that patient dentist that worked with him for so many years to help get him to the point that he is not terrified anymore and may actually be able to finally teach his own children one day all about the Tooth Fairy!

2 comments:

HeidiT said...

Love this post, I like hearing all of the details about preparing for the mission. It's crazy how much work goes into it and what blessings come in the process. What a blessing to not have to spend any extra money on the wisdom teeth! And what a great lesson for him to have to spend his own hard earned money on it. (I know I would have griped at his age to have to spend my money on teeth!)

PaD said...

Thank God for good dentists and that are honest. I'm almost 72 and still have all 3 of my wisdom teeth and they've never had a cavity. The 4th never came in. Maybe Jake will take after his grandma D and get to keep his too.

We enjoyed our cruise.

We got home and immediately got the flu. We are both recuperating.

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