Friday, August 7, 2009

My Two Front Teeth

Editorial By Shaila Creekmore, Illustration By Brittney Guest as printed in the July 09 issue of Jonesboro Occasions.

As teenagers, my husband and I both went through the dreaded process of braces. I was a metal mouth for a couple of years, while my husband had to endure nearly four years of braces followed by a retainer.

While our boys will likely follow in their parents’ footsteps, we were overly confident that our frequent trips to the dentist wouldn’t start until at least their preteen years. Samuel and Tyler were both late teethers, 11 ½ months and 10 ½ months respectively before we saw those first bottom teeth break through. Samuel was three-years-old before we even saw a hint of his two-year molars and at 20-months, Tyler still only has four bottom teeth. We have been happy to have late teethers because studies show that the later a child gets their first tooth, the healthier their teeth generally remain.

So needless to say, when Samuel returned from the church playground with a large chip out of his front tooth, I was a little upset to see damage to that beautiful little smile. A quick early morning trip to the pediatric dentist the following day showed the tooth fracture was far below the root area, but he warned us that the tooth could begin dying and not to be surprised to see it turn dark. A couple months later, the tooth remained pretty and white and the chip looked smaller to me each day as I grew accustomed to seeing it. We were out of the woods of further dental work and we were relieved to not be spending a small fortune to repair a baby tooth.

But if you’ve ever been a parent – especially to boys – you know they are only accidents waiting to happen. Samuel is addicted to Star Wars and loves to practice his “Jedi skills” as he calls them. But on one particular night, his “skills’ weren’t quite skillful enough.

As he jumped and turned and twisted, his feet went up and his face came down — straight onto the ceramic tile floor. Never mind this was after being told twice to stop because he might get hurt, now we had tears and blood and four loose front teeth. The small chip was now a larger chip to match a new chip on the tooth to the right and small cracks could be seen on the tooth to the left. Within days, both front teeth began turning dark.

What we once considered to be good luck was now a problem. Because he was a late teether, we are still likely two years from losing the baby teeth for the permanent teeth. Soon we were scheduling a visit for root canals and veneers to be placed on the front two teeth – baby teeth! The veneers looked beautiful and no one would have ever known he had had dental work. Unfortunately, the veneer didn’t work on one of the teeth and within three months we were back at the dentist to have a less attractive, but more permanent crown put on to protect the tooth.

At only five-years-old, Samuel has already had more dental work than I’ve had in my lifetime and cosmetic procedures to boot. But as my mom keeps reminding me, “It’s just part of being a parent, it is only baby teeth and the next accident is just a playground trip away.”

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