Saying Goodbye to the Special Tooth

Shortly after her second birthday, Hope started having screaming fits each night, complaining of pain right below her nose. Because it was a regular thing, and thinking it was related to a sinus issue caused by her cleft lip and palate, we took her to an ENT.

During the ENT visit, the doctor found something:  a tooth growing in the upper part of her jaw, right under her left nostril. This type of tooth placement was normal for kids with a cleft palate, but would eventually need to be removed.

X-Ray of Hope's teeth
X-Ray of Hope’s teeth

We learned that it was necessary to make sure the tooth was clean and taught Hope to brush it just like any one of her other teeth. She became proud and protective of what came to be known as her ‘special tooth.’

Fast forward five years later to today and Hope is not happy that she’s going to have to say goodbye to her special tooth. Later this summer, she will have a bone graft to fill a gap in her alveolar ridge (in other words, they’re taking some bone from her hip, grinding it up, and placing it in the gap in the upper part of her jaw). The special tooth is right where the bone graft will be, so the tooth will need to be removed first.

Hope and Luke
Hope and Luke

That first surgery is Friday. Hope’s reaction to the impending surgery has ranged from sheer horror to acceptance. While most of her procedures and appointments have been at Nationwide Children’s Hospital here in Columbus, the removal will be done by an orthodontist at a “grown up hospital.” We had an appointment with her orthodontist, which went well. He was very receptive to her and her questions, particularly her request that she get to keep the tooth (which he pointedly had his assistant write in his notes).

While her anxiety is a little higher than normal, she is confident and ready for the surgery. She’s always had a high pain threshold. But as the date of the removal of her special tooth nears, she’s approaching it much more courageously than I would. The Civee and I don’t quite know what to expect for after the surgery, so we’re going to make sure to have plenty of ice cream on hand and a special box for her special tooth.