Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Don't. Bump. The. Tooth.

I have a painful achy feeling just above my lungs. My nerves are raw, and I can't relax.

Peanut Butter, my sweet little 14 month old boy, tipped the kitchen chair he was standing on over backwards and knocked his upper front tooth almost out. As in, it was hanging so loose that it looked like it was twice as long as his other tooth. I pushed it back in, but it bled a lot and he sobbed for a long time in my arms as I walked around the livingroom / kitchen area holding a cold washcloth to his mouth.

This was Monday evening.

As soon as Peanut Butter had calmed down enough for me to hold him with one arm, I searched the internet for medical / dental advice for a toddler who has knocked a tooth loose. I decided it wasn't an emergency room emergency, and that I would just keep an eye on him, and that there's a chance the roots will take hold again and he won't loose it. I don't expect that to happen. But I'm still on pins and needles lest he bump it again and knock it all the way out.

Tuesday morning Peanut Butter had made it through the night just fine, but his mouth was clearly tender. I knew I should avoid hard foods like apples, but I wasn't sure about the coffee cake I had made for breakfast, so I called the medical advice line available as part of our health insurance package. The kind nurse on the other end of the line asked me questions about his condition and advised soft foods. "Like what?" I asked. "Like pudding, jello...oatmeal." Okay. Oatmeal. That's a breakfast food, one we eat a lot. I can't imagine putting my little guy on a diet of pudding and jello for days on end. He'd never want to switch back. So he had oatmeal for breakfast, mashed potato for lunch, cottage cheese and mandarine oranges for a snack (in which I was reminded that Peanut Butter, who eats almost anything, cannot abide cottage cheese), squash and broccoli cheese soup for supper, and yogurt for a bedtime snack. Those foods are the extent of the soft foods I've managed to scrounge from my cupboards and refrigerator, but they're not a bad variety.

I just can't relax about his loose tooth. The idea that he may get to keep his baby tooth and not have a gap in his mouth for the next 4 or 5 years if I can just keep him from damaging it further is a terrible responsibility on my shoulders, honestly. I know it's not the end of the world if his tooth does fall out, and I know it'll probably happen anyway, but just knowing I may be able to prevent it if I'm just vigilent enough to prevent further falls and bumps... well, it's exhausting.

And that's not my only worry. I worry that his mouth will get infected and I won't recognize it until it's serious. I'm not normally a worrier, and I know I need a change in perspective, but I can't seem to shake this constant feeling of stress that's blanketing my days.

I'm reluctant to take him in to be seen by a pediatrician because I'm afraid it'll be unnecessary trauma for him and unnecessary expense for us, just to be told to "keep an eye on it." I guess in a day or two, depending on if it's better or worse, I'll have a better idea of whether or not to have his mouth examined by a professional.

Sometimes being a mother is a terrible responsibility. I feel like I should know what to do, but I'm so afraid of making a mistake.


Nina said...

So sorry you're stressing out about this -- I would be too! Just know that nobody could be vigilant enough to guard every movement of a toddler. Do the best you can, and if the tooth gets bumped, it is not your fault!
Good luck.

tonia said...


It's going to be okay. Your momma-instincts are working just fine. You're probably right that the doctor will tell you to wait and see....and you have the Holy Spirit keeping watch too. Pray over the little one, do your best, watch for signs of illness, and release him into Jesus' care.

If the tooth falls out, he'll be adorable with his little gap-tooth smile and you will have a good story to write in his baby book.

It'll be okay!

Veronica Mitchell said...

"I feel like I should know what to do, but I'm so afraid of making a mistake."

We all feel that way, most of the time. It's an unfortunate part of the job description.

Bruce said...

I understand how you feel Marie. Indeed, that was a very stressful moment.

I actually had the same experience when our 3 year old daughter fell from a chair. In our case, it was worst, because the tooth looked like it was barely hanging from her mouth so we took her right away to a
dental (Hilton Head) clinic. The dentist had to extract the tooth because the damage was very severe. Fortunately, a new tooth grew to replace the missing one.

Hoping for the best for both of you.