Monday, February 7, 2011

Curse of the Black Tooth

Teeth. I didn't know the kind of trouble they could cause until I became a parent.

First it's the teething, then the battles over tooth brushing, then the visits to the dentist, then the sedation recommended for children's fillings.

There's always something to keep moms up at night worrying.

With my kids, though, there seems to be a disturbing trend that goes right along with our "Swashbuckling Sea Songs."

It started one morning walking Ben home from preschool. You might remember he was climbing on a gate, did an unexpected somersault, and landed on his front teeth.


I took him to the emergency room, the doctor (twice), and the dentist, only to discover that our best case scenario was that the tooth would remain a dismal shade of dark gray, rather than turning completely black before it fell out in a year or two.

We could have sprung for a baby root canal and some internal bleaching, which might have lightened the gray a little, but there was no guarantee.

After seeking several opinions, engaging in much debate, shedding many tears, and recovering from the recurring nightmares, I thought, "It will be okay. Ben is a boy. He wants to be a pirate. He can live with a slightly gray tooth for a few more months."

Of course, the tooth fell out at the beginning of kindergarten, and I could finally relax.

The next day my two-and-a-half-year-old Janae fell down the cement stairs outside the door to the kindergarten room at Ben's school.

After the swelling went down, Janae seemed okay. No lasting damage seemed to have been done!

Several months later, though, I noticed one of Janae's front teeth seemed darker than it should be. Within a week it was definitely gray.


I made an emergency dentist appointment with every intention of scheduling a baby root canal, internal bleaching, external bleaching, plastic surgery . . . whatever it would take. I had my Visa and my Mastercard ready.

Only to hear that there was nothing we could do but wait until the tooth came out on its own.

Janae was only THREE. The tooth would not come out for literally YEARS.

I expressed my concern to the dentist. (You know dentists, right? They WANT our money!)

She calmly assured me the tooth was healthy, the gums were fine, the x-rays showed no damage.

Finally I broke down and asked the burning question, "What can I say to people who wonder why she has a black tooth?"

Dr. Tsang simply said, "Tell them she fell down."


My other burning question: "What about all the people who DON'T ask and just assume Janae has a negligent mother who feeds her candy all the time and doesn't brush her teeth?" That's what I was really wondering.


Putting my own reputation and self-interest aside, though, I really worried, and still worry, about how the dark gray tooth will affect Janae's self-esteem.

While Benjamin is a boy who likes to play pirates, Janae is a girl who likes to play pirates only occasionally. Her real dream is to be a beautiful princess, or a ballerina.

But every time I look at her tooth, it seems darker.

It is like a family curse. The curse of the black tooth.

Now you might think I am getting ahead of myself. What about Alaina, you might ask. She doesn't have a black tooth. She has a beautiful smile.

Trust me, it is only a matter of time.



mom said...

With Alaina making climbs like the last photo, I'm thinking that it might be sooner rather than later that she might be sporting a "grey" tooth (just kidding, I hope).