Tuesday, December 02, 2008


This was in his mouth until Monday morning. (The tooth, not the dime.)

It's a molar. The first tooth he has lost.

It doesn't look all that big, until you realize that it was inside his mouth, and his mouth is tiny.

It didn't get wobbly and come out, the way baby teeth do naturally. This tooth had a cavity, and the cavity got infected, and the infection got down to the nerve, and yesterday the dentist pulled it out.

His mouth has been bothering him for a couple of weeks. Mrs. B took him to the dentist once, and she thought it was a nasty bite on his cheek. But that healed up, and he was still complaining about his mouth. So went to the doctor, and she checked his cheek but couldn't find any wound. She didn't know what was bothering him. And that made the pain go away for a while.

But on and off, it's been bugging him. And then Sunday came. Sunday afternoon, his mouth was suddenly on fire. He was howling in pain. After he went to bed that night, he woke up keening miserably in pain. He was like that all night - restless, thrashing, and moaning in agony. Mrs. B gave him some ibuprofen and that finally helped him sleep for a few hours.

But Monday morning, he was screaming again. I can only describe it from a distance - I was at work, and the Mrs. was at home with him for the day. She called once. I heard him in the background, wailing in a way that I can't remember hearing him before. It was heart-breaking.

So they went to the dentist that morning, and they took x-rays, and they discovered the infection. And the tooth came out.

He feels better now. he's probing around the hole with his tongue, feeling his cheek with his finger. But he's not in pain anymore. He's sleeping now, and he's sleeping like a lamb. I should be relieved, but I'm just depressed.

The hole in his mouth is enormous. It's a giant gaping wound, a scar in his beautiful perfect little mouth.

He knows about the tooth fairy now. She left him a dollar. He's not supposed to know about the tooth fairy. He's only three. His teeth are all supposed to stay in his mouth for a couple more years. All of them.

When he was little - when he was just crawling - we were playing around one day in the kitchen. He was climbing between my legs, and I would squeee-e-e-e-eeze them together around him. He would squeal in delight, and I would let him go again. He'd crawl another step, and then I'd squeeze my legs against his ribs again.

Well, I did that one time and for some reason, I thought that he was holding himself up by his hands. I released my legs suddenly. He fell with a thud, and then he started screaming. He had fallen smack on his mouth and came up with a mouthful of blood.

I held towels to his mouth to soak up the blood, cursing myself for what I had done. I felt sick that I had caused this beautiful boy harm. He was hurt and it was my fault. Months later, at his first dental visit, I found out that he had chipped a tooth. And I knew the exact moment when it had happened.

And now, this tooth. Was it our fault that it had failed? Did we start him on fluoride toothpaste too late? Were we negligent in brushing his back molars? What had we done? I feel like it's my fault, this giant hole in his mouth.

I've had friends tell me that it's genetics, the undeniable hand of genetics. I know that my family has terrible teeth. I have a mouthful of fillings myself. The dentist even said that the tooth was new and could have been malformed. It's all probably true. I'll keep saying that, and eventually I'll probably start believing it.

1 comment:

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