Put under for fillings – what we didn’t know until now

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So the first visit to the dentist was a success but they were not able to take x-rays.  On the second visit the x-rays showed that in between Ella’s back molars there were cavities!  And as a result of it being in between the teeth instead of on top, it spread to the teeth touching it.  Eight cavities in total between her two back molars top and bottom, left and right side – I was shocked!  I was very careful with the sugar when she was younger and I guess that didn’t help.  Turns out my habit of giving her a glass of milk after she had brushed her teeth, putting her straight to bed when she fell asleep in the car, not flossing and allowing her to be independent with brushing her own teeth all contributed to the crazy number of cavities.

I felt terrible – she’s only 4 and it my responsibility to take care of her teeth!  Since we were already at the dentist, I asked if we could get one of the cavities filled.  She of course didn’t like the needle but by that time she already had the freezing, so we might as well go ahead with the filling.  She was upset so we sat for a little while I held her to help her calm down before the dentist did the filling.  The after affect from the freezing wearing off was terrible.  Ella cried and complained that it hurt for hours.  Either she was given too much freezing or there was something else going on that she couldn’t explain.

Second visit for a filling resulted in a total melt down in the corner – she wouldn’t even get in the dentist chair.  They tried to give her a prize from the toy chest, offered to let her pick her own movie to watch in the chair, along with other tactics but nothing worked.  After what seemed like an eternity  of inconsolable tears, we left with an appointment to see a pediatric dentist.

There were only two options from here, laughing gas with the freezing still or putting her under local anesthesia.  After the visit with the pediatric dentist, he didn’t even give us the option of laughing gas and indicated that we were welcome to get a second opinion.  His rationale was this:

1. If she didn’t like the after affects of the freezing, the laughing gas option would still require freezing (laughing gas only helps them down but they can still feel the pain so freezing is needed).

2. If she moves or is not able to stay pretty still, the fillings can’t be done properly and some parts may be missed.  Plus there is equipment going at top speeds inside her little mouth!

3. The first visit with laughing gas might be OK but in order to get all the fillings done, it would require multiple visits.  This could cause increased stress each time she went and in the end she might not be willing at all and we’d end up with having to put her under anyways.  If we put her under, everything could be done in one visit and it would all be over with.

I left the appointment convinced – putting her under was the only option.  Speaking to my husband, he was dead set against it.  He was scared of the risks (and rightfully so) but even with the dentist reassuring us that his office does 20-30 of these procedures a month and that the risk is less than getting killed in a car accident, he would not budge from his stance.  Don’t get me wrong, I was completely stressed about the risks as well but I saw what happened with her melt down at the dentist office and couldn’t see putting her through that multiple times – we didn’t have any other choice.  My husband still was not sold, he even suggested that one option would be to leave the cavities alone as they were only baby teeth and would fall out in a couple of years anyways!  I found out if you leave them they can hit the nerves and cause other damage which would affect the adult teeth.  Also the back teeth are the last to fall out – often around 9 or 10yrs old so this definitely was not an option.  After voicing his objections and lots of heated “discussions”, he hesitantly agreed.  At that point, the appointment was made and the ball was already rolling.

We received a package in the mail explaining what needed to be done and what to expect along with waivers well before the appointment.

Before the appointment:

  • Clearance from our doctor as close to the appointment as possible but no more than one week ahead of time to confirm she was healthy and cleared for the procedure.
  • No food at least 8hrs before the appointment
  • No clear fluids and that includes water 3hrs before the appointment
  • Two parents to come to the appointment (one to sit in the back and one to drive) or take a taxi home with her
  • Blanket waiver to be signed to release the dentist for any liability should anything go wrong (including death).  This one I couldn’t bring myself to sign until the day of the surgery!

Day of the surgery:

  • Mask would be put on her and it would take 1-2 minutes for it to work
  • Expect that she will cry but supposedly it’s due to her being scared and not due to any pain or effects from the anesthesia
  • Hold her hands while she goes to sleep (this actually ended up being more so she couldn’t take the mask off than to comfort her which I quickly found out as it was happening)
  • They put a breathing tube through the nose and down into the throat
  • An anesthesiologist will be there along with the dentist for the entire time

After surgery:

  • They won’t let you in to see your child until she’s almost awake but the nurse will be with her once she moves to the recovery room
  • Expect kicking, crying and other reactions as she will be completely disoriented when she wakes up
  • Start with clear liquids to see if she can keep it down.  Then go to basic foods and then start introducing other food one at a time.  They recommend no dairy products.
  • For up to 6hrs, treat her like she’s “drunk” as she can lose balance at anytime (I loved the “drunk” analogy the nurse gave us)
  • Let her sleep if she is tired as it will only help her get over the affects of the anesthesia faster
  • You can give her Tylenol or Advil or Gravol as needed

I wasn’t so keen on the part where you pretty much have to hold her down when they apply the mask.  All I wanted to do was jump in and help make her feel better as she was scared!  The procedure for us took almost two hours.  Once she started waking up we could hear her cry and were allowed to come in.  I wasn’t allowed to pick her up and hold her until she was pretty much fully conscious which was hard as she was crying, kicking and overall just really upset.  After about 20-30 minutes, she was cleared to go home.  She was still crying at this point but we figured she’d be more comfortable at home then in the dentist office so we left.

Luckily for us, she was able to keep down water right away, she wasn’t nauseous and didn’t have too much of an issue with balance.  After about two hours, she was hungry and wanted food.  She had to miss her weekly pizza day at school so that is all she asked for.  Going against the advice of no dairy, we tried it anyways as she seemed to be back to her normal self.  Again we were lucky as she didn’t have any adverse affects to this and she bounced back to her regular self in only a few hours.

We were so relieved that it was all over with and despite the few moments where she was upset, it wasn’t bad at all.  Now thinking about the choice between going several times to get the fillings and “the needle” versus getting put under, I’m glad we chose the latter.

Lesson learned, I now brush her teeth for her instead of letting her do it on her own twice a day.  I floss her teeth every day and do everything we can to ensure she doesn’t have to go through this again!  Fingers crossed!

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4 thoughts on “Put under for fillings – what we didn’t know until now

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  3. Oh my goodness how stressful for all of you. Big hugs!

    Now I’m beginning to think that maybe I should be brushing my kids’ teeth at least once a day.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with this (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.

    1. Thanks for the support! We are starting to just find out others who have gone through a similar experience. I don’t wish this on any child or parent. One the most stressful experiences thus far for us.

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