Yesterday was one of the most bizarre and most horrifying of my life.
We've spent the last week taking some well earned time off and enjoying the last week of the school holidays with the kids. We decided to treat them to an outing to a kid's play centre nearby, affectionately known in our house as 'the bumpy slide'. We've been to several of these over the life of the girls, but this was a new place for us. When we arrived we were really impressed with this one. It was clean and tidy, the equipment all looked relatively new and in great condition, and the staff were friendly and attentive. We unleashed the kids and let them loose. They knew what to do.
The kids were having a great time. After about an hour or so Megan and I were talking through our plans for the rest of the afternoon. Little did we know that none of them were going to happen. One of the pieces of equipment at this particular centre was a large jumping castle. It had the same shape as this one pictured here, but different pictures on it. At one point Annabelle (our youngest) was climbing on the wall at the front, which made me nervous (in this picture the part where Nemo's dad is patting Nemo on the head). So I got up out of my chair to tell her to hop down and play safely. Just as I did so Brielle (our oldest) appeared from behind her, having just come down the slide part of this jumping castle. Something was drastically wrong. She had "that look" in her eye, and was screaming. As a parent, you know that look very well, and somehow categorise cries and screams by priority levels. Well, this scream was a 10 on that scale. As I got closer to Brielle I could see she was holding something. I didn't recognise it at first, but my first thoughts were (a) it's a compound fracture of her finger and this was a bone (b) she's landed on some piece of plastic or otherwise and it's now imbedded in her hand. It was my wife who identified it - "It's her tooth!" She told us later that she had bounced down the slide and her face hit the netting above the slide. Incredibly, the netting got caught under her tooth and ripped it almost completely out. Brielle, in the shock of the moment, felt her tooth in a completely unusual position, and thinking it was the wobbly tooth in her mouth, pulled at the tooth and it came out.
Parents are used to seeing their kids produce teeth from time to time. You know the baby ones, with roots deteriorated down to nothing. This was nothing like that. This was Brielle's adult incisor from the top left hand side, and it was huge - root and all. As soon as my wife said "It's her tooth" we looked in her mouth to find a bloody mess. Immediately we bundled up everything and everyone and rushed to the nearest hospital. Fortunately that was only a couple of minutes away at Canterbury Hospital. Being a long weekend there weren't any dentists on duty, but they knew what first aid to administer. Apparently the best thing to do is (a) get the tooth back into the socket as soon as possible and splint with folded aluminium foil. If that doesn't work or isn't possible then (b) put it in milk. Who knew!?
Anyway, at Canterbury hospital Brielle was seen pretty quickly. A senior doctor put the tooth back into the socket as best she could (without any pain relieve for Brielle I might add!) and splinted the tooth into place using aluminium foil. At the same time they began ringing other, larger hospitals to determine who had an on-call dentist. Westmead Children's was the winner. Sadly, we know this hospital pretty well already as this is where Brielle has been seeing her hip specialist since she was a baby. Before we left for Westmead the Watts family came and collected Annabelle (thanks a million!!!!) and looked after her for the rest of the day. Then Brielle, Megan and I jumped in the car and went.
When we arrived at Westmead Children's we went straight to emergency. We were triaged very quickly, and the dentist had already arrived and was ready to see Brielle. So it was off to the dentist chair, where Brielle would spend the next 2.5 - 3 hours. The dentist took multiple X-rays of Brielle's mouth to determine the extent of the damage and what could be done. He also said that this was a relatively unusual injury and not one that student dentists (in particular) would see so asked if we would be happy for him to take pictures to use later in lectures. We were more than happy to consent.
The dentist explained what he was going to attempt to do, and some of the possible outcomes. He assured us that whatever occurs she wouldn't go through life with a huge gap in her front teeth. This put my mind at ease. I know how harsh the school play ground can be (particularly in High School) and I didn't want my daughter having to face that with an obvious gap in her teeth.
When the dentist took off the aluminium foil we saw how bad the injury was. The tooth looked obviously in the wrong spot and sitting much lower than the adult tooth beside it. There were concerns that he wouldn't be able to get it back in any further, but he would do his best.
Fortunately, the dentist was able to get the tooth back into the position it was originally in. What a relief! She needed several stitches in her gums because it was damaged quite badly. In order to do this he had to remove a baby tooth which was right next to the damaged tooth. Why couldn't that tooth be the one that was ripped out!?!?! It was days away from falling out normally anyway. Oh well. The tooth fairy came for that tooth last night, and let's just say that he was unusually generous, having felt very sorry for the ordeal Brielle had been through that day.
Next he spent considerable time putting braces on her top teeth. Whilst braces are normally used to straighten and move teeth into better positions, these aren't for that purpose. These braces are acting as a splint for the damaged tooth, giving it every chance to heal and get back to normal. After a considerable amount of very delicate work the braces were in place.
What we now need to do is care for that tooth as best we can. Brielle is on a course of antibiotics. She is also keeping the teeth as clean as possible using a special mouth wash (which she hates!). She's also eating soft foods for the next week or two to avoid biting down on something hard. Not so great when you wake up the next morning to find Easter eggs that you can't really eat.
We finished at the hospital at around 6:00pm, 5 and 1/2 hours after Brielle had originally injured herself around 12:30pm. Time will tell now whether the tooth survives or whether there'll be the need to take an alternative course of action. We're praying for the best outcome for Brielle's sake. We would appreciate your prayer support in the coming days ahead.
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