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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

First Cavity: Part I

A few weeks ago, Gavin had his first dental cleaning, and we discovered that, unfortunately, he already had a cavity - even though he's only three.  This was a little disheartening to me for a few reasons.  First, I've had my fair share of dental work done, and I hate it.  I absolutely dread going to the dentist.  Second, Gavin's going to have enough procedures in his life to deal with, and I was hoping that we would be able to tackle the dental work later on in life, but that clearly is not the case.  So, off to the dentist we went to get his first cavity filled.

I'll admit, I was nervous.  In fact, my hands were sweaty and I had a sick feeling in my stomach just thinking about how this could potentially go.  Mind you, we weren't going to a pediatric dentist, just my regular dentist.  When I had asked the hygienist how they go about filling a cavity on a small child, she simply replied, "Oh, we numb it."  Yeah, of course you numb it, but what else?  You give him laughing gas right?  Or you completely knock him out?  Correct?  Nope.  Just a shot.  Nothing else.  Hmm, this doesn't seem right to me.  I can't imagine that this is going to go very well.  I mean, he's 3.... Should've listened to my gut.

Waiting for the dentist.

Surprisingly, Gavin did really well . . . for awhile.  He was a champ when the dentist put the numbing gel on his mouth.  He was GREAT when the dentist gave him the shot (which the dentist referred to as a "mosquito bite."  If I ever get a mosquito bite like that, I'm moving to Alaska.  Or, better yet, Antarctica.).  I didn't even have to hold his hand or sit next to him when they gave him the shot.  He was such a brave boy.  Then, well, things sort of went downhill from there, and they went downhill fast.  The dentist had to put a piece of foam in Gavin's mouth to hold it open wide enough so he could get in there and work.  Despite the fact that this made Gavin choke and gag, he did pretty well with it.

Not a big fan of sitting still.

Then came the drill.  The dentist explained to Gavin that this was going to "tickle his tooth."  At that point, I thought, "This guy has no clue.  I'm sure he's a great dentist, but you don't tell a three-year-old that a drill is going to tickle."  I'd say he drilled for, oh, maybe 10 seconds before all hell broke loose.  First, there was mild squirming and a small whine.  Then the legs starting flailing around.  I went and sat on the chair to help calm Gavin down, but it was too late.  The next thing I know, he's bawling.  Just crying.  Giant crocodile tears running down his cheeks.  Arms are flying through the air.  His little body is quivering.  I wanted to shove the dentist aside, pick up my little guy, and hold him, but I knew we had to get this done.

The dentist was trying to calm him down by saying things like, "I'm trying to help you by fixing your tooth, so I need you to help me by relaxing."  Seriously?  I want to punch you in the face right now.  The hygienist was trying to calm him by saying things like, "You're doing such a good job.  It's okay."  Well, that's a little better, but it's clearly not working considering the fact that he's trying to bite the dentist's fingers off right now.  So, I tried.  "Gavin, if you settle down and let him finish, I'll take you to the store and buy you a toy.  Any toy you want.  Mommy will take you to the store and you can pick out whatever toy you like."  That had to work, right?  He's been asking for a new toy all morning (I mean, he only got a new toy, like, two days ago.  He's clearly going through withdrawal.).  Nope.  Not buying it.  We are clearly done at this point.

Shaking out his hands from Gavin's death-like jaw grip, the dentist, too, realizes that this is a lost cause.  The filling is not done, but it's very clear that we are not getting any more work done.  We convince Gavin to lay back down so that the dentist can put a sealant on it (He told Gavin he was "painting" his tooth.  Sigh.), and luckily he finally cooperated.  Then the dentist looked at me and said, "I'm going to have to refer you guys to a pediatric dentist to finish this."  No shit.  Really?  "He did so well with his cleaning that I thought he'd do well with the filling, but I guess not."  He did a good job letting you brush and floss his teeth that you thought he'd be fine with you jabbing him with a needle and sticking a drill in his mouth? 

At this point, I feel kind of awful.  I have no doubt that this was somewhat traumatizing for Gavin, and the worst part is that we're not done.  We have to go to a different dentist - probably next week - and try again.  And, I have no doubt that experience will be working against us since he now knows what to expect.  All I can do is hope they knock him out.  Until then, I will help lessen my guilt by allowing him to watch Toy Story and eat all the pudding he wants (We are currently on cup #2).


  1. I think Gavin is a trooper. What a brave little guy, but obviously the dentist didn't take into account this was his first cavity and he is only a small boy of three. I remember taking my kids to the dentist and I definitely was more worked up than they were. Good luck next week and let's hope the next dentist has a little more tack!

  2. Poor little guy. Our dentist is just a plain ol' dentist, but she knows how to handle kids. Unlike one of the monster "pediatric" dentists we went to while growing up. It's all about the chair-side manner.

  3. Poor Gavin. Hopefully things go better with the pediatric dentist. Stopping by from Blog Stalk Friday