My kids are quite active and have had their fair share of bumps and bruises. But until this trip the kids have managed to steer clear of bad injuries on the road. Notice I said until this trip.
Exactly one day after arriving in NJ, and after a fun play date with a friend and her two boys, the kids, were wound up and late to take a nap. As I tired to round them up to go upstairs for a nap, my son protested while swinging around a heavy plastic toy Dora backpack. Unfortunately he didn’t realize his sister was walking up toward him from behind. I didn’t see it, my mom did. All I heard was the thunk followed by a loud wail. I turn around to find my daughter’s mouth covered in blood and my son in total shock.
My mom and I quickly attended to my daughter, getting her to drink water so I could find the source of the blood and stop the bleeding (not the first mouth accident I’ve attended to). Meanwhile my husband attended to my son, who had run and locked himself in the bathroom crying and refused to come out.
I quickly saw her lip didn’t require stitches so I took her up to nap and left my husband was with my son. As I lay her down to put on the pull-up, she smiled at me and I saw it. A huge piece of her front tooth was missing and it looked like the tooth had turned.
Meanwhile, downstairs my husband managed to convince my son that his sister was fine and he could come out. Unfortunately that was the moment I came down in hysterics screaming “Her tooth, her tooth, its broken!”. I was screaming and crying and now my husband had to calm me down, mostly by stating in a somewhat patient tone “Please calm down, you are freaking out our son”.
Barely calm I realized my daughter wasn’t crying and so I agreed with my husband that a nap was the best option. We put both kids to sleep and started to determine our next course of action. Unfortunately my son chipped his tooth at 2 running on concrete (though a smaller chip) so we were aware of what the dentist could and could not do. We are lucky enough to have a great pediatric dentist in San Francisco who had a 24 hour emergency line where a dentist would call you back. As I waited for the dentist to return my voicemail, I called a great friend who did her residency in pediatric intensive care. After a few questions, she felt that it likely wasn’t a fracture, and thought we could wait until we returned to California to see the dentist. The emergency dentist asked similar questions and offered to look at pictures over email. When my daughter awoke, she was all smiles and let us pin her down and take pictures for the dentist. An email response from the dentist said he agreed the tooth looked chipped, not fractured, and gave us a list of things to watch out for that would necessitate an immediate call to him. He said otherwise we could see him when we returned.
Having things like this happen is scary enough. Having it happen when away from home is even worse. A few things helped:
- When the bleeding started I stayed (mostly) calm. That allowed me to assess the situation.
- I knew my dentist number (had it in my phone) and was able to get the professional help I needed right away.
- I had an amazing dentist who was willing to work with us and our situation. (Those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area, Children’s Choice Pediatric Dentist, located in San Francisco, locations in the Mission and Marina.)
- I set up my mother, father, and husband for success by giving them care instructions and dietary restrictions as per the dentist advice.
I’m not going to lie, I’m just now getting over being devastated. I’m starting to get used to the new smile, but I still sometimes wistfully look at pictures of her old toothy grin. It helps that she still has a great personality and it shines through in both smiles. Above all, I recognize that my child is just perfect the way she is – and that my own biases do not (and I will make sure will not) have any bearing on how she perceives herself which by all counts right now is headed in the direction of a confident self-approving young woman.
I also try to remind myself that this could have just as easily happened at home and this is no reason to stop traveling. But I’m a little glad I was able to leave for Boston (to work) and at least try and forget about it for a few days. Bumps and bruises (and chipped teeth) happen anywhere. While its not ideal for it to happen while traveling, it feels good to know I can handle it.
Update: The dentist has seen her tooth. It’s shifted back into place and x-rays confirm no exposure of the nerve and no damage to the roots. They won’t fix it since its a baby tooth, they will just watch it every 6 months until it falls out. So the chipped tooth smile is here to stay, at least for a little while…