Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Grafting Story

Monday morning. Dentist appointments. For all four children. Actually, it sounds worse than it really was. We used to dread dentist appointments for the children because it meant pinning at least one of them down with all our might while an assistant pried a little mouth open and attempted--amidst the blood-curdling screams--to insert a sharp dental tool. Now the children are all so well-mannered in the dentist's chair, those dreadful moments are but a long-distant dream.

The children are, in fact, more well-mannered at the dentist than I am. I would rather be on my back at the GYN's with my feet up in...well, suffice to say I don't like the dentist. At all. Not the dentist personally; she's actually a very nice lady who tells us our teeth are "delicious". It's the whole going to the dentist thing, enduring the scraping sound, answering the accusing questions like So do you floss everyday?, etc., etc. And I say that our dentist tells us our teeth are delicious, which actually is not the whole truth. She has yet to tell me that because I have not been in, well, a really long time, so I have yet to experience this new dentist's torture care. My husband says we've already met our deductible this year so it would be prudent for me to get my cleaning in before the year's end. I'm fighting him tooth (and nail).

Anyway, Monday it was. At the dentist. With all four children. Jacob's teeth are "delicious", and the only thing he may need in the future are braces to make all of his teeth squish together. Alex requires a mouth expander to correct her jaw, after which she will require braces. We already knew this and have her scheduled at the orthodontist next month. Audrey is too young to really tell much except for the fact that her mouth is a mini-Alex-mouth (the dentist's words, not mine), so if we have any of the children's college fund left by the time her turn rolls around, I guess we already know what treatment she will require.

As for Michael. Oh, his poor little mouth. He requires the same jaw extender followed by braces as Alex and already has his ortho appointment scheduled as well. What really concerns me about him are his receding bottom gums. The dentist attributes it to him being a mouth breather, which I thought meant he breathes through his mouth (duh!); however, she explained that because his bottom and top teeth do not come together, "mouth breather" refers to the fact that a lot of air enters through his teeth into his mouth. No idea what this has to do with receding gums, but anyway. The whole ortho thing as well as better brushing, she said, should keep his gums from getting worse.

However. There is no way to correct the problem that has already progressed. I was told that later he may require a graft. I know all about grafting because when I was little, I was involved in an accident which resulted in my best friend receiving skin grafts on her leg burn. But in the mouth? On the gums? Unfortunately, I asked a couple of questions like, Where does the gum skin for grafting come from? There are two choices: from the roof of his mouth or from a cadaver.

I think I threw up in my mouth a little when she said that. Not that I am not grateful to anyone who donates their organs. Or gums. And not that cadavers gross me out. I mean, I've always wanted to take Gross Anatomy just so I could work on a cadaver. However, you know and I know that I would not stick a piece of my cadaver's gums in my pocket to use later in my son's mouth when I got home from the lab.

She told me all of this in a whispered tone as if my son knows all about grafting and cadavers. He of course was oblivious to it, much as he apparently is oblivious to effective teeth brushing. I have moved all of the kids' toothbrushes down to my bathroom so I can take the chore over again. Except for Alex's; the dentist said she is brushing well.

Like I said, they all did great reclined in their chairs, under the bright lights, decked out in sunglasses, watching the Disney channel of choice. Alex even sat calmly through that especially torturous dental exercise of cramming a gigantic plastic tray of goo in your mouth which you must then hold in there for a blasted Eternity, all the while fighting it with your tongue while fighting to breathe at the same time. When I checked in on her and saw the thing protruding from her mouth, I gagged and had to excuse myself from the room immediately.

Audrey is the only one who fussed at all. During her cleaning, she cried because she did not like the taste of the dentist's choice of toothpaste. While this may seem a trivial and silly matter to the regular person, anyone of royalty knows that when something foreign and unpleasant touches a princess' palate, a few tears must be shed. Her tears dried quickly, however, when the hygienist lead her to the huge Treasure Chest.

The Treasure Chest is always something to look forward to at our dentist's office. As is the chocolate treat. Yes, our dentist has bowls of chocolates lying around her office. I teased her about this once, and she explained that chocolate is not bad for your teeth, just the chewy and hard candies.

Chocolate. That magic word. In spite of myself, I may learn to like this dentist. If you need me, I'll be summoning up the courage to make that call and get me penciled penned in to the appointment book.


Arby said...

Six adults. Fourteen yards of Velcro. Vice grips. A baby grand.

What it takes to hold down Major Havoc in a dentist's chair?

Bing! You've won the 10,000 Pyramid!

Darcie said...

You are a brave soul when taking kids to the dentist and you had to take 4. You are my new hero! The sunglasses are cool:)

dclouser said...

Steve had to come and see what was wrong with me I was laughing so hard as I read this entry. I know none of it was funny as it was taking place, but you managed to make the telling of it absolutely hysterical. Leave it to a dentist to come up with the ultimate (chocolate!) to get people to make a positive association. I'd never heard that one before.Sounds like your kids will be cashing in on lots of that chocolate in the years to come (and maybe even you?).

CrossView said...

I keep forgetting to call and make appointments for my kids. The 20-yr old loves going. She says her teeth feel so good after. My 13-yr old hadnles it better now that she's a bit older but she doesn't like going. She finds the questions annoying since you can barely answer and she hates the taste of everything they use.

And it's god that you've gotten them used to going. I bet when they're all grown up they will be good about taking care of their teeth.

And who needs college anyway? ;o)

CrossView said...

Ok, make that "handles" and "good", or something.

Teacher Mommy said...

I'm pretty much with you on preferring the stirrups to the drill. Truth? I haven't had the courage to take my kids in yet. I'm doomed.

Kathleen said...

Darcie ~ Not that brave. I always take my husband along with me. Like I said, not a fan of the Dentist.

Debbi ~ Seeing as how I currently have quite a chocolate stash in my pantry, the Dentist's chocolate has not yet compelled me to make that call. Still working up the courage.

Crossview ~ You know you don't need to correct your grammar with me. I know you know what's right and what's wrong! ;)

TM - I know lots of kids DramaBoy and Widget's ages that haven't been. We knew we had some problems, so we went early. I wouldn't worry!

And Arby ~ All I can say is good luck next time!

Tisha S said...

I know what you mean. When I do manage to make myself go, I am constantly telling myself:
"the kids did this, so can I. Austin had a "baby root canal" and braces, I CAN do this. Stop it, the kids are watching, you will make them scared if you don't stop."
This argument goes on in my head until I am out the door. Yes, I usually have one or both children with me. It used to be for a lack of a sitter, then it became to help me get thru it. :-)

@nnie said...

glad to know i am not the only one who would rather make a gyno appt than open up my mouth to the scrutiny. the drilling. the squealing. i have quite a history of dental work and it's something you just never get used to. one thing i have never had is a graft. my goodnes. that just sounds awful. but i agree, your retelling makes it all seem palatable. something the kids can read as they get older. have a great day, kathleen!

Linda said...

My children LOVE our dentist. He hugs them, and tells them how great we all are (and I'm a saint for just allowing G-d to give them to me...he's awesome!)
Anyway, get a second opinion on the graft. I was told I NEEDED it. "Make the appointment now", the other guy said. I went to two other dentist, (including the one above) and both said "no". The success rate is not worth the conidition of my mouth. That's not to say your son does not need it, but get another opinion before you put him through it or spend the money.
That said, the cadaver is much less painful. They grind the cadaver skin into a powder before using it, and your son won't get cut up.

Amy said...

Abbi just had expanders put on (top and bottom) on Wednesday. I had one when I was a kid and wanted to cry when her ortho said she would need them. I must say, though, they have come a long way in the past, uh, 20-something years. The worst part about her experience was taking the pill 30 minutes prior to her appt. to dry her mouth. She is not a pill taker and that part was torture. It only took about 30 minutes to put both expanders on. Now she's learning how to talk and eat again. Thanks for posting...Abbi will be happy to know she's not the only one going through this. Just make sure your kids know they'll have the expanders for awhile. I made Abbi's next appt. for 3 weeks from now and she thought that was to have the expanders removed. No such luck.

Kathleen said...

Linda, Thanks for the advice.

Amy, Our two expander-wearing girls can stick together! :)

Kathleen said...

Oh, and Amy, pretty soon we'll be moving from jaw expanders to bras and stuff. Don't want to even think about that. :(

sharon said...

perhaps if te dentist would ask you to put your feet up and take off your clothes you would like to visit him more often.

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters said...

Wow! It sounds like quite a day! I really can't believe you hate dental care more than gyno...I can't imagine that!

I'm also impressed that you actually WOULD work on a cadaver if given the chance...I don't see that happening for me. Ever.

Sorry about all the orthodontia--ouch. And as far as you? Make the appointment and get yourself some free chocolate, for crying out loud!

Amy said...

I'm fine with the's the 'and stuff' I'm not prepared for. A few tips Abbi has learned so far...macaroni noodles get stuck around the contraption. Don't eat Kix cereal...she was in tears this morning because they hurt her teeth.
My brother had the grafting done on his gums. For a different reason. I don't remember it being too awful...but it wasn't me that had it done, so who knows.