But first, Lily’s beautiful old smile.


One of the reasons for our recent trip to the lower mainland was to take Lily to a Paediatric Dentist. Lily had the most horrific dental experience here in Prince Rupert (Dr. Adams for local readers; Beware!) which needed a miracle to turn Lily’s view of dentists into a positive light. The paediatric dentist in Vancouver offered us that miracle. Lily was able to have a cleaning, check up and x-rays with willingness and ease.

The outcome of the check up and x-rays meant extending our stay to take advantage of a cancelation so Lily could get the work she needed done under general anaesthetic. Allowing my child to be put under general anaesthetic was not an easy choice to make but after some research and support from a friend who also took this route with two of her children, we decided this was the best option for Lily. The paediatric dental group use the best children specific anaesthetists and that made the choice easier.

What would normally be simply a routine doctor’s visit to determine Lily’s ability to undergo surgery, left us with more questions. We’ve been waiting for a Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist to come through town since December. Lily’s been dealing with adenoid and tonsil issues and every doctor who looks at them readily agrees that she’ll likely have to have them out, especially because it’s causing some sleep apnea. We left the doctor’s office for Children’s Hospital for an x-ray of her throat. Everything turned out okay. The space in her throat was tight but workable and the surgery was on.

I had really struggled with how approach the subject of the surgery with Lily. I’ve always been honest with her but this time the dentists suggested I focus on making the occasion a positive one by not giving too much information. I have to say that this turned out to be exactly the right approach.

Lily wasn’t falling for any of the “sleepy straw” explanations when they were referring to the needle going where the emla patch was on her hand but she was able to be distracted with blowing bubbles while they put the needle in. I felt so uneasy and afraid when she went limp in my arms after only a few seconds. I cried as they kindly led me out with assurances that she would be fine. I cried out all the tension I’d been holding in and was better off for it. I had a job to do while she was getting the work done, which also helped focus me. I walked to the grocery store and bought some children’s tylenol (which I’d never bought before!), delicious organic chicken broth and tomato soup. I decided to pass on the apple juice they suggested knowing that Lily would be happy drinking a cleansing and nourishing herbal tea I’d been giving her for days and her favourite, Bear Trap tea.

After almost two hours, the nurses were so pleased to inform me that Lily woke with a smile. I was brought into the recovery room where they were cooing over her. The nurses completely charmed, she was given not one, but five treasures for herself and three for her to take home for Leif.

The surgery resulted in Lily having five baby teeth removed to accommodate her permanent teeth coming in straight. (Orthodontics start a lot earlier these days.) She was fitted with five stainless steel crowns that will grow out when her permanent teeth come in, put one filling in a permanent molar and took an annoying and now defunct spacer off one of her teeth. Lily’s teeth were also given an extra good cleaning.

Lily's new smile

She recovered faster and better than the best case scenario the dentist presented me with. A little woozy in the legs and a slightly sore lower jaw the next morning but otherwise she was back to normal by the next day. Her quick recovery was fortunate because she hated the sickly sweet grape flavoured tylenol.

WAY too early in the morningYuck!

Afterwards, Lily struggled with having been distracted while the needle was put in her hand. I tried to explain that they used distraction to make it easier for her to have it done and it did, in fact work- she didn’t feel scared about the needle when it happened and the work was able to be done. She seemed to process this and not feel aggrieved about it anymore. Lily’s very happy with her new smile!

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18 Responses to Lily’s New Smile

  1. Vanessa says:

    brave, both you and her.
    We had tubes put in O’s ears last year and although I was scared to do so, I know he is better off because of it (we haven’t had to do any antibiotics for ear infections since).

    Glad she did so well.

  2. What an interesting story!
    Terrific results.
    Emotional results that is. . .
    I have issues with dentists because of the few times of coercion and fear based threats of doom and gloom if I didn’t this or that. Rewards of doughnuts (of all the dumb things really) and visits to a pet store. Good lord how cathartic this is for me! I had forgotten about these details. Pet store!!! no wonder I don’t like pet stores and zoos. So I suppose I can be grateful for who I turned out to be.
    Humf , , , now off I go to process some more.

    Great work Mama and great new smile Lily!!

  3. dawnsuzette says:

    Yay for Lily! So happy all went well.
    I guess I should not take our awesome dentist here for granted. He really is GREAT with the kids!
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. natalie says:

    You and your beautiful girl made it through. What a sweet ending:) What a great Mama.

  5. Erica McKay says:

    So glad that all worked out well for you guys. We also had a bad experience with Kea, she went through a root canal and a silver tooth under local freezing, and was petrified by the dentist afterwards – especially by the huge needle. Then we found a FANTASTIC dentist in Coquitlam from a local recommendation – Tiegan needed work on her teeth but was not of the personality to be coerced or bribed into doing anything (unlike her older sister) So I had incentive to find another dentist, and we drove an hour to get to this woman. Who distracted Tiegan by a retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs while she ever so slowly put freezing into her mouth. I guess the only reason it’s usually painful is because they put it in so fast. To this day, Tiegan swears up and down that she’s never had a needle, and she loves the dentist. We ended up bringing Kea there for more work, and she was super nervous about the needle, and about 10 minutes into the appointment, she said, “can you tell me when you’re going to use the needle, as I’m really nervous about that” and they had to say, “oh, we’ve already put the freezing in” She was so distracted by the stories, she hadn’t even noticed!!!!!! It’s always so good for the soul to find kind hearted people who are willing to take the TIME, isn’t it?!
    Now I’m left hoping I can find as good a dentist here in Ontario – well, that and I’ve become so much more proactive about keeping their teeth as healthy as I can!!!!
    And I too cannot stand fake flavoured products, blech. I don’t blame Lily one bit!

  6. Rosina says:

    That is so interesting! I have never seen stainless steel crowns like that before or even heard of anything like that being done for young children so that was quite educational :) I’m so happy that she was able to have a much better experience with the new dentist and that you both made it through the not so fun hospital experience. My daughter just had two of her baby molars pulled due to infection below them which was causing trouble for her adult teeth and thankfully she had two special dental assistants that fawned over her. It makes such a big difference for little ones when they have patient and loving dentists and aids. Looks like Lily is pretty happy with her new smile to :)

  7. Annie says:

    I had anxious type dental experiences when I was younger too. It seems like most of us have? I love the new approach many dentists seem to take today- no pain, no stress, no forcing. My dentist takes this approach. He’s the same dentist I’ve seen my whole life. He’s amazing with needles also, thank goodness. That’s the hard part for me.

    Dawn, you are so right- never take for granted a great dentist!

    Erica, that sounds like an amazing dentist! How will you be able to find a replacement?! Hopefully it’s not too hard.

    So happy to hear about more positive experiences. Even I was traumatised by what Lily went through here and was questioning how many good dentists were actually out there!

  8. mb says:

    hi there, i don’t think i’ve actually delurked here before *sheepish smile* but i had to comment today because this is something i went through this past october (dental stuff for my kiddo, under general anaesthesia.) like you, i am very much a holistic/natural health care type of person, and also was pretty horrified by having to leave my kiddo and be in another room while “surgery” was going on. i, too, did not give very much info, and i, too, had a wonderful pediatric dentist experience (and wasn’t anticipating that). mostly, i really identified with the tears you shed when she went to sleep, it was one of the most everything-all-at-once moments of being a mama i’ve had so far. so i wanted to send a hug, from one mama to another. :)
    p.s. quinn outright refused to take the tylenol. looks like lily feels about the same way on that subject. ;)

  9. Annie says:

    Mb- you bring tears to my eyes again. It WAS one of those everything-all-at-once moments. So nice to meet you! Thank you so much for commenting. xx

  10. laurajbb says:

    This post stuck a chord with me too (after a long time just reading) as we experienced our first general anesthetic a couple of weeks ago with our three year old.

    It was totally an everything all at once moment – as soon as I left the room the tears were unstoppable and necessary, an outpouring of all the emotions. Feeling him go limp in my arms and having to lay him on the hospital bed and leave, I think will stay with me forever.

  11. Courtney says:

    Lily has a BeAuTiFuL smile!! :) Yep nothing more stressful then trying to get your child to go to the dentist… or to a “scary” dentist… aka Adams! We go to Redman and though at times, he is hesitant…. most times there is no problem and the ladies there are lovely!! Especially Marlene! <— neighbour down the street from both of us. Happy Snow Day!

  12. greenteacher says:

    Hey A, Kai had to undergo general anesthesia for surgery last year and the most difficult part was having to give him up, wailing no less, to the nurse while I stood by and watched him go (he was 1 at the time). Though that memory will never leave me, I am so glad the surgery was done when it was. There is no more dread about an upcoming surgery..whew
    By the way, Lily looks great (as usual!), as do you!

  13. angelina says:

    bless you both! i can truly sympathise, ive just had to undergo 4 fillings , a root canal (!!!) , and a partial with my little 5 year old. it was awful! :(

  14. Ella says:

    thank you so much for sharing this post. Having xrays at the pediatric dentist here in Vancouver was traumatic for Little A and now they want to put him under for some scraping and filling in a couple baby molars. i had never heard of stainless steel caps! is that what they use to fill smaller fillings too? may i ask which dentist did the work for Lily?
    i’m so very anxious about this for Little A and pretty scared to see him go under but know i must be there and confident for him. aiii.

  15. Annie says:

    It’s so nice to know I’m not the only one having gone through this!

    Ella- Dr. A Chan was our dentist. She seems a bit abrupt and I wouldn’t peg her as being obviously great with kids. The nurses were the ones we dealt mainly with during the g.a. while Dr. A Chan did the work. I only saw her briefly before and right after the work was done. The nurses were so great. Caring and calm. xx

  16. tai says:

    Oh mama, what a tough one. I was thinking of you so much, knowing how hard this was going to be. So glad it worked out well. hugs to you both.

  17. sarah says:

    this is such a super long story for our experience with Maxine- but it ends with general aneasthetic, more fillings than i know, and a double root canal in her two front teeth (at 3 1/2). and almost $5000. We have awesome (i think) dental hygiene but she did nurse at night for 3 years. it was a stressful experience for me (but not for Max) and I felt bad about her tooth decay (although I wouldn’t have nightweened her before I did even knowing the consequences) I know your circumstances were different but i know how traumatic kids and dentists can be- xxoo

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