The Lifetime of Teeth
Last year, our dentist in the Philippines, did a Panoramic xray of Zarah’s jaw bone, and through these panoramic xray, I saw teeth behind the gums (just below her baby teeth)– seemingly pushing out and risking to crowd her existing baby teeth. This dentist proposed to strip her 4 lower front teeth to give way to the permanent teeth pushing its way in.. Good thing, I did not agree to this proposal, cause just a few weeks before her 6th birthday, the first 2 lower front teeth fell out on its own–as per God’s schedule (lifetime of teeth).
Don’t get me wrong, I really love our dentist in the Philippines, she is very good at diagnostics and analysis. Am also glad that after laying down all the possible options to me, she does not pressure me or take it against me if I say no, or say maybe later.
see the Lifetime of Teeth in 3D here:
Did you notice that its first in first out? The first 2 teeth that came in was the lower front teeth..and these were the first 2 teeth to came out. Reminds me of how fearfully and wonderfully made we are by our Creator.. everything is in perfect order.
They also took photos of Zarah’s teeth using intraoral camera==> below is the photo and their recommendations
Actually, the reason why we went to see her is to consult her about Zarah’s lower molars which are extremely decayed (they call this bottle decay)… not so much because of the permanent teeth crowding her baby teeth…but its good to know all these things too.. just proves how wonderfully created we are by God, all are in perfect harmony and order.
Then, why do we get bad teeth and consequentially bad health then? Neglect, sin, pride.. all this and more..
Anyway… about the bad teeth…
Apparently, tooth decay (like cancer) also have staging.. Zarah’s 2 lower molars are in the late stages of decay (stage 5) and are both candidate for extraction.
All of the dentists we visited at that time (both in Singapore and Philippines), are proposing “Sleep Dentistry” or extracting her teeth under general sedation. To which, I am not very comfortable with. I worried, I prayed, worried and prayed some more … and resorted to alternative ways e.g… “waiting out”– until the bad molars fall out on its own (as per schedule in the life time of teeth)==> wwhich means I have to control the spread of the decay as much as I can.. or to reverse (cure the decay) or remineralize it..
Well, suffice it to say, I was’nt able to follow the tooth decay remineralizing protocol to a T– some of the major priorities like bringing home the bacon took over saving her teeth.. and I really wish I could have done more…I do believe though that if we did follow the protocol to a T, her bad molars can be saved without sedation, without extraction==> at least until her permanent molars start to push it out when she is about 10 years old.
Two weeks ago, the gums under her left lower molar (1 of the bad ones), had abscessed, puss were coming out. And, I agree that we really cant let go of our traditional medical/dental practitioners in cases like this. So, maintaining a respectful relationship with her dentists is still very important. Friday morning, I called her “normal dentist” (the one who does normal cleaning for her here in Singapore), told the dental assistant that my daughter is in pain. The DA informed that her normal dentist is currently studying in Europe and will be back in May. He adviced to give her Panadol until the next morning, to see another dentist on duty. So, at 9am the next morning, all 3 of us (me, Nanay and Zarah), went to the clinic.
(I prayed without ceasing.. just telling the Lord, that at this point in time.. I am really at a loss.. I dont know what to do. if the dentist blame me for this and wheel her into the operating room to be sedated and finally get her teeth extracted.. I think I will just be breaking down in tears ; for failing her; for getting her to this stage)…Tried to calm myself, so she won’t sense my fear… She was so happy to see “the dentist” , as oppose to “her normal dentist”, probably because she thinks “all dentists” can make the pain go away. Just like a magic wand.
On the way to the clinic, I was mentally nagging and blaming myself===? why did I let go of the protocol? We have gone so far.. to just come to this stage… I should have done more, I should have persisted…all the coulda woulda should have beens playing repeatedly on my head…
“The dentist”, is a Malay male dentist. He looks so young and inexperienced. But he was calm and professional. IT seemed to me that he have handled so many cases like this. He was’nt surprised. He did not nag me, He didnt blame me.
Then he said the abscessed tooth really have to go NOW!… and I said.. NOW? you are not going to book an operating room? I thought the protocol is for the dentist to book an operating room a week or so from now, get a clearance from pediatrician, then engage a sedation specialist, then after lots of commotion, gassing my child, poking her with needles==> putting her to restless sleep==> then her teeth can get extracted? He smiled to me and said, “do you really want your child to go through that? I can extract the tooth now, right here right now in this dental chair.”
Then, he turned to Zarah and explained the procedure for extracting, right here, right now in this dental chair… in a soothing, calm and of course more detailed manner. While ==> me the mom is fidgeting on my chair.. Zarah looks so amazingly calm..
In 30 minutes the abscessed tooth was gone—> she cried a little during the actual extraction (I would have probably bawled and kicked and screamed if I was her)…
soothed her for another 15 minutes at the lobby.. and then after 20 minutes off she went to paint this
and draw this
at the Art School next door (all the while the cotton pads are in her left jaw)…
The day ended quite well, we missed her Piano class though, but we were able to attend our usual Saturday night bible study.
The moral of the story is this… fear can cripple us– it can even make us doubt our faith. See, tooth extraction on a 6 year old who cooperates well, is possible without sedation.
I revisted all my previous entries in this blog, and it seems my decision to postpone all invasive treatments until today, was right at the time I made it last year. The extraction last Saturday is minimally invasive as it did not involve sedation.
What about pulpotomy or root canal treatment? The original proposal of our Filipino dentist is to try pulpotomy/root canal treatment first.. before extraction… in my mind.. whats the use of removing the pulp==> and then filling it with something else? The pulp is the life of the tooth, without the pulp its basically DEAD. Whats the use of a dead teeth in your mouth? So, at least for us, I believe extraction is the better option.. it will be replaced anyway before she turns 9 year old.
Why did I wait till now.. for the extraction? last year, our only option was to sedate before extraction. I dont want sedation, I also dont like the idea of my daughter screaming in pain in a dentist chair. So, I tried the remineralizing protocol.. and I never regretted it.. at the time when I was faithfully following the protocol, the decay seems to be in control.. yes, it still looks brown and ugly.. but it is not spreading to the other teeth, and she was’nt in pain… in the last few months.. I took the easier route.. minimum effort– (e.g. brush her teeth every meal, but did not watch her diet, did not ensure that she take her supplements)…then the decay broke lose.. she had teeth abscess. its really time for this bad molar to go.
So, what about the other molar? It is also candidate for extraction. If Zarah is willing to have it extracted again, without sedation, I will definitely go for it. For now, she is not inclined to go for another extraction by the same dentist.. now she knows that dentist can help pain to go away, but only after more pain :).. Will wait till she overcomes the fear again..
For the meantime, I am going back to the protocol, this time with fierce determination and discipline, to prevent it getting abscessed and also to protect it and surrounding teeth.
Oh, she cant wait to grow up! She knows that when she turns 12 she will get almost a complete set of permanent teeth.
In one of my crazy nights, I am contemplating of getting her kid dentures though :)… just to boost her morale..