This morning, Riley tripped over a toy on the floor. That’s a fairly commonplace event for our gung ho little guy. But this time he happened to be holding a sippy cup in his mouth with both hands. He continued holding onto the cup, which hit the floor squarely and transferred all the force of the fall straight to his mouth.

He started crying immediately, which meant he hadn’t concussed or anything, so that’s good, but I saw right away that his mouth was bleeding quite a bit. There was enough blood around his top teeth that I couldn’t see them very well, but I could tell that they weren’t where they had been. I figured they might’ve broken or something.

I called 911, feeling a bit panicked and at a loss for what else to do. Some paramedics came, but by then it was clear that he wasn’t in serious life-threatening danger. They tried getting me to apply an ice pack, which went exactly as miserably as I knew it would. They told me to call my pediatrician and go from there.

Meanwhile I got hold of Laura and filled her in. She called the pediatrician and got a referral to a dentist in North Durham, and left work to meet us there. At first they tried to tell us that we wouldn’t be able to come back with Riley into the examining room. We were starting to look for another dentist when they said they’d make an exception for us. I don’t know what they thought they were trying to protect themselves from, or protect us from, but I think that is just absurd. Anyway.

With Riley all velcroed down on a table screaming his heart out, they got a better look than we were able to up to that point. The two teeth on the upper right side (out of the four uppers he has so far) had taken the brunt, and got knocked back up into the gums and misaligned. They angle inwards now, rather than coming straight down. What little remained visible doesn’t look broken, and the doctor said he thinks the roots are probably intact too. He also said that since Riley’s so young, the teeth will most likely re-erupt and move back somewhat closer to their original positions. The actual teeth might die, though, but that only means that they’d darken as he gets older; they’d still be fully functional, at least for as long as he’ll need them before losing them at around age seven anyway.

So it could all be much worse. But it’s still got me in quite a funk. I’ve been beating myself up about it all day. I was standing three feet away from him at the time. But I couldn’t reach him in time to stop it. I saw the fall happen in slow motion. There was nothing I could do, I tell myself over and over. I am completely certain of this, and yet I don’t wholly believe it. I’m responsible for him, ergo it is my fault. I just need some perspective, the kind that only time can give me.

He was feeling all right, considering it all, for most of the day. He smiled a bit, several times this afternoon, which makes me feel better. Although it also makes me sad, because it’s a very different smile than he had yesterday.

Right now he’s sleeping fitfully in the next room. His ibuprofen surely must have worn off by now, but I think I should let him sleep for as long as he can before I give him another dose. I don’t feel much like sleeping myself. It’s going to be a long night to cap off a long bad day.

4 thoughts on “Riley Tooth Crisis

  1. Hey, are you an attentive Dad? Of course you are! I know you know this, but kids get hurt, that’s what they do, and there is no way to protect them completely. As you say, you were right there, not picking your teeth and drankin a beer out back when it happened. Not only will he not remember this incident, he will think you’re the center of the universe for many years to come. So, feel free to give Bryce a break, if you can. :)

    • Thanks Bib. Weighing heavily in the guilt was the fact that a week or two ago I predicted this very scenario. :-/ But I’m feeling better today, and with the swelling mostly gone down he’s looking a lot more normal too.

    • Thanks A. You’re right, even a couple days of distance has helped me appreciate how fine everything’s going to be. At this point I think his molars coming in for the first time are bothering him more than the wound is.