“Take it out!” Emma said. “Take it out!”
We were at the dentist’s office where she had just had a baby tooth pulled because it was obstructing the adult tooth from descending.
Five years ago when Emma had two cavities that needed to be filled on two baby teeth, we had to take her to the hospital and have her anesthetized as she could not tolerate having an x-ray let alone having a cavity filled. The two baby teeth were capped and while she was unconscious the dentist applied a sealant to all her teeth as they are unusually porous and susceptible to cavities and plaque. When she regained consciousness she cried, “Take it out! Take it out! She then tried to pull the metal caps off her teeth. I still remember sitting with her at the hospital, horrified as she screamed and cried and pulled at the caps on her two teeth, wondering what we were going to do. After a few days, when she realized the capped teeth were not going anywhere anytime soon, she grew accustomed to them and stopped trying to pull them off.
Over the years Em has grown used to the dentist and dental visits and allowed him to clean her teeth without protest. A year ago she sat still long enough to have multiple x-rays taken of her mouth and teeth. This was a first! Em was ten years old. Now Em has four braces on her four front teeth and has a palate expander in place that she tolerates, though doesn’t much like. (Who would?) Two days ago she tolerated the dentist giving her a novocaine like numbing agent allowing him to pull her baby tooth. This was a first and a huge milestone.
“Take it out!” she kept saying. At first the dentist thought she was eager to have him pull her tooth, but I had a feeling she meant the numbing sensation. “Do you mean take out the tooth or take away the strange sensation?” I asked. “Take it out, Mommy. This,” and she pulled at her upper lip, twisting it with her fingers. “I know it’s an awful feeling, but it will wear off, Em,” I told her and then asked the dentist how long he thought the numb feeling would last. The dentist told me it should wear off in about an hour, so I set a timer on my phone and handed it to her. She held the phone and watched the minutes tick by. Meanwhile I hoped beyond hope the dentist had given me a correct estimate and wasn’t being optimistic.
After the tooth had been pulled and the bleeding had stopped, he came by to check on her and saw Em with my phone and the timer counting down the seconds and minutes. He laughed, “Uh oh, you’re going to hold me to it!” Then he said, “You better give her something hot to drink, that will speed up the process.”
“Good to know,” I said. “Hey Em, when we get home, I’m going to fix you some hot chai. It will help that weird feeling go away.” “Take it out!” Em said. “Yeah, it’s going to make the numb feeling go away faster.” Em nodded her head and off we went with Em clutching my phone watching the seconds tick by.
By the time we arrived home there were about ten minutes left and Em kept repeating, “Take it out! It’s okay, it’s okay. Timer goes off and it’ll be gone!”
I fixed her some hot tea, told her to drink it and when the timer went off the numbness must have abated enough to make her less panicked. About an hour and a half after the first shot she said she felt fine.
Tiny steps, taken one after the other over time, can and do take us far…