Toddler Dental Surgery

A few weeks ago Mavis had surgery to repair damage to her baby teeth. It was a long, weird road to the actual procedure, complicated by a pandemic and also her age and weight, but we’ve finally done it and I’m thrilled to be able to finally put this super stressful event behind us.

It started at the beginning of the year when one of her front teeth (beside the front, and on the side she lays when nursing) began to show signs of decay. Over the course of a couple weeks it quickly got worse and then one morning I noticed that part of the tooth had just disappeared. I made a dentist appointment right away, which Mavis was great for, and was referred to a paediatric dentist in Nanaimo for X-rays and further consultation.

She would need the tooth extracted and also some caps put over the other front teeth to protect them from damage as she seems to be extra susceptible to enamel decay. The problem initially was that she hadn’t turned two yet, and the hospital requires anyone being put under for a surgery to be at least 24 months old and also 10kg. Mavis was neither of these things so we would have to wait until her birthday in April before we could get on the wait list for the procedure. That was stressful enough as I was concerned she would be in pain or develop an abscess in the meantime, but things were about to get a whole lot more complicated.

As everyone knows, the pandemic really kicked into gear in March and April, and by the time Mavis turned 2 and was ready to get on the wait list all surgeries at the hospital had been cancelled. Our only choice was to wait until they began scheduling again, and to try to stay on top of cleaning her teeth until then. Fast forward to July and things were slowly resuming at the hospital, but in the meantime the damaged tooth had completely rotted down to a stump despite brushing, and the other three front teeth all showed signs of decay, especially the small one on the other side. Eventually we could get her on the wait list but still had to try to get her to gain weight.

Finally it was time to go to our family doctor to confirm Mavis’ health prior to an available surgery date, at which point we learned that she still wasn’t the required 10 kg/22 pounds. She’s tiny!! I spoke with the hospital liaison at the paediatric dentist and determined we could still get her in as long as she was close, she was about a half pound away so there was a good chance she would make weight by the time of the surgery. So we went back to the family doctor again to get the exam done and paperwork filled out.

Finally we got a date in mid August for the surgery, and had a handful of phone calls from the hospital confirming her health, no pre-existing conditions, no history of anaesthetic reactions in our family, and also a Covid screening to ensure we had no symptoms of the illness, hadn’t been told to self isolate, hadn’t travelled recently, and also hadn’t been in contact with anyone who had tested positive for the illness. We were good to go!

Because of the pandemic the hospital was only allowing one support person in with the patient, so I had to go in with Mavis alone. I was wracked with anxiety, where was my support person? Hah. It took two hours to check in, change into hospital clothes, do height and weight measurements (22.6 pounds! We made it!), more health screening, more Covid questions, an explanation of what would happen during the procedure, numbing cream applied to four potential injection sites on her arms and hands, and to wait for the porter. During this time (and from midnight the night before) she was not allowed to eat or drink anything, including breast milk, which I thought would be a huge struggle but she barely seemed to notice. Mavis was a champ the whole time, I was panicked and crying, naturally.

Ready for the OR and tired of pictures.

Once we were taken into the OR waiting room I had to change into scrubs and booties and we answered yet more questions from the nurse and anesthesiologist, then had a quick check in from the dentist prior to the surgery. At long last we were lead into the operating room where Mavis sat on the table and watched the nurse blow bubbles as the anesthesiologist found a vein in her hand for the needle. The pain of the needle was the only part of the whole process that upset her, obviously, but the anesthesiologist warned that she would be asleep within 20 seconds. Sure enough she was alert and crying then seconds later her head flopped back into the nurses waiting hands and she was guided to the table, out cold. It was very strange to watch but she was in good hands. I was quickly ushered out of the room and asked to wait outside the hospital for a phone call when she was in recovery, in about 90 minutes time.

After what felt like a lifetime of waiting, I got the call that the surgery went fine and in the end she had two extractions, 4 cavities filled, and caps put on her two front teeth. We waited a bit longer for the sedation to wear off and then I was called again to come to the recovery room and pick Mavis up. She was groggy and her mouth was swollen, but she did great and was happy to drink water and snack on a popsicle. We did an overview of the aftercare and were given supplies in case she was sick in the car from being sedated (common, but didn’t happen) and had the IV removed from her hand. I changed her back into her clothes and we were free to go! Phew!

Mavis recovered quickly from the whole ordeal, though was pretty uncomfortable the first couple of nights. A week later she was fully healed. We even got the two extracted teeth as a souvenir haha. She loves showing off her new teeth!

The hospital staff were all amazing throughout the whole experience, even during a pandemic (I feel I should note on all of Vancouver island there are NO hospitalizations of Covid patients, and only 8 active cases isolating in their homes! So the hospital was a safe place.)

Thanks to Justin’s work benefits the whole process only cost $120, $60 to upgrade each cap from metal to white. We are so grateful to everyone that was a part of the process and took such good care of our daughter. Hopefully this is the last dental surgery for her, I feel like I have aged a decade from stress 😂

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