Yesterday Everly had surgery on her teeth due to early childhood tooth decay (ECTC) – she needed two fillings and 6 crowns. Wow, that is a lot of work in such a tiny mouth. This has been a difficult issue as most people would assume such a thing is due to sleeping with juice in a bottle or a high diet of sugar. Neither of which are true in our case. We take great pride in our families eating habits as well as how we have cared for each of our children including their teeth. I also did not want to listen to the fact that breastfeeding was a potential cause – I have read a lot of mixed research on this topic. Her older siblings have no dental issues and the benefits of breastfeeding are numerous. But for whatever the reason, Everlys teeth were decaying and breaking. I was so worried about how this would affect her beautiful smile and her confidence as she grew older.
We have been dealing with this issue since October when I first noticed a little hole on one of her front teeth and then upon looking closer some decay along the gum line of her front teeth. We were fortunate to see a paediatric dentist within 24 hours of sending an email – he told us that we caught it early and that the best way to avoid surgery was to try and halt the decay. We began using a fluoride toothpaste twice a day, wiping her teeth after she nursed (even overnight) or ate and encouraging her to drink more water after eating and nursing.
At home in Ottawa over the holidays we saw our own dentist who had the same suggestions – try and delay surgery as long as possible.We also saw a naturopath who found that Everly had a gluten intolerance which may have been contributing to the higher acidity in her saliva. Everly and I went gluten free and began taking several supplements to try and slow down the decay. While at home one of her little front teeth chipped.
In February, despite all of our efforts, her chipped tooth further broke and her little tooth with the hole also chipped. We decided to night wean her so that she would not have any fluid on her teeth over night. This is still an ongoing battle, but I feel like it is another important step for her dental health – we wanted to try every option and this was the last one and most difficult to put into action.
We saw the dentist in Singapore early March and he said the decay was spreading very quickly and soon he would have little tooth to work with and that her molars now had very deep cavities. He was worried, as were we, about infections or an abscess beginning as well as the decay affecting her adult teeth. He recommended the dental surgery to take place as soon as possible. After a lot of thought, Alan and I felt like surgery was our best option at this point.
To do the surgery was such a difficult decision as there are risks to any surgical procedure especially when a child is under 3. Obviously, google is never your friend in any sort of medical issue, but we read reviews anyways. Both of our dentists felt like surgery was in Everlys best interest sooner rather than later. I just hated having the burden of the decision on us since this was not a life or death emergency surgery and we obviously did not want to put her in any risk of complications.
The day of the surgery came and Everly was incredible. I was terrified of how I was going to hold her off from nursing and eating until the surgery. She woke at 4am and would not go back to sleep, so I decided to go the hospital for 5:30am and walk around the neighbourhood until 6:30am to try and distract her. It worked! We walked the neighbourhood and then went in and the administrative staff and nurses along with bubbles and books kept her busy until 8:30am. I was also thankful that I was able to change into scrubs and accompany Everly right into the operating room and hold her while she was sedated. I was also there when they woke her up. Although she was hysterical upon awakening, she soon fell asleep and after her nap she was back to her normal self.
We are thankful now that this procedure was done and we are hopeful with the extra precautions and care that we will be able to maintain her beautiful smile.