Dear Parents that have yet to reach tooth-pulling age,
I owe you an apology. And a grave warning.
In December of 2012, after only three weeks of Ali having her first loose tooth, I penned the following paragraph:
“Shocked at her sudden burst of bravery, I quickly grabbed the napkin, reached in, and popped it out.
No wonder there’s no tool [for tooth-pulling] – it’s that easy.”
This representation was grotesquely naïve, as it was fraught with beginner’s luck, a clueless child, and a blessing from the Lord Above.
Tooth-pulling is a treacherous undertaking. It is one that can munch away at your psyche – mocking you, judging you, and acting as the Raven at your window, squawking out that same despairing word over and over, causing you to seriously doubt your fitness to take on such a challenge.
Less than a month after that first loss, her other bottom-center tooth came out, again fairly easily, and her top two teeth started to loosen.
I was unabashedly arrogant with regards to my talents, certain that I was a tooth-pulling maestro, so unique in the world of child-raising that I could easily make millions by hiring out my abilities to more squeamish and less-proficient parents.
But that was 300 days ago.
And her first top tooth just released it’s evil grip on her gums. Let me reiterate: 300 days after it became loose.
The amount of tears that went into the process of the removal of that tooth is best left undocumented, as it would most likely skew annual rainfall totals for the state of Alabama.
This time lapse is partially due to Ali’s realization that that tooth-pulling does in fact slightly hurt, and pain is something she does not believe in. It is also attributable to the clear fact that her top center teeth are rooted up to the top of her skull, sewn, stapled, and super-glued there, then also rooted down to the tip of her big toe, where they are welded to the underside of her toenail.
And this is all great and fine until the Dentist gives you a deadline and an ultimatum.
“You need to have those teeth out within three months or you will have to get her an appointment with me immediately so that I can pull them. They look like the type that won’t come out on their own, and you don’t want them causing orthodontic problems later.”
The mantel of burden that he placed upon me that day felt to my shoulders like a Momma Elephant about to give birth to triplets.
And so we began a daily routine – you must wiggle your tooth substantially at least four times a day, and you must allow Mommy one good yank per night.
What ensued was ending every night with a complete panicking meltdown, followed by either a) me getting such a headache that I gave up, or b) me feeling the need to not allow her to win the battle and risk my life and limb and digits by forcing them into her mouth to yank between screams.
Weeks went by. Our 90 day deadline haunted me with visions of my child bringing down the walls of the dental office with her impressive decibel level. Until one day we had a breakthrough, when Ali accidentally knocked her right tooth with her fork. It flapped in the breeze, most assuredly hanging on by a mere thread of nerve.
What followed were multiple nights of my “one good yank” resulting in buckets of blood, but no tooth removal – further adding to the hysteria of my Anti-Pain Activist Daughter.
After a week of this, her tooth could easily move independently from the rest of her body, giving her the ability to perform such fantastic tricks as, “Look! I’m Mater!”
I finally got another good knock at it, this time managing to [squeamish people skim this phrase] rip it forward. So far forward that it stuck – horizontally glued to her gums, but still quite insistent on being a tenant in her mouth.
And then it turned a frightful shade of purplish-grey.
I swear her tooth rotted on the vine.
After three more days of my daily yank going nowhere (and I got some good ones), my brother scared me at Sunday lunch.
“It could be abscessed. Or if it’s not yet, I bet it will be soon. You really should go ahead and take her in.”
But I took my fear and I used it to fuel the Winner Within. And with the passion of a Christina Aguilera Affirmation Power Ballad singing through my veins, I ignored my daughter’s pitiful pleas for mercy and I yanked that infernal tooth out of her head.
But not without shivering from the intensity of the past 300 days of effort. And from the fact that she still had another tooth to go before we reached our 90 day deadline.
So, parents of the world.
Teeth are a menace, whether coming into your baby’s squealing gums or being yanked out of your first-grader’s terrified soul. Do not take this responsibility lightly, or it will taunt you with its ability to steal gigantic chunks of your life.
22 thoughts on “To the Young Parents of the World.”
#1. She looks adorable without a front tooth!
#2. Is she still wearing her Sunday dress when you plucked it out? Dang girl, your brother really scared you if you pulled it immediately.
#3. The best line of this entire post, “And with the passion of a Christina Aguilera Affirmation Power Ballad singing through my veins…” hahahahahaha.
Yes, she was still in her dress. And yes, I was absolutely scared and determined.
The trick that worked for me ( I have four grown children, and have pulled a few teeth through the years) was to twist as you pull.
We did a TON of twisting that tooth. It was the most stubborn tooth in the history of teeth!
I DREAD the teeth-pulling phase because I am squeamish & anti-pain myself! I don’t like blood or body parts separating. I got all knotted up just looking at these pictures. I’m in trouble…
Oh boy. I can’t wait to hear about it! But SURELY a toddler will force you to become less squeamish…
Does it make me a bad father that I’m seriously considering the ol’ string to the doorknob trick?
No, but it never worked on my teeth. My parents did that a LOT.
“Look, I’m Mater” made me laugh so hard!
The trick my mom used was to make a loop with floss, slip it around where the tooth meets the gums, then pull the ends of the floss really quickly. That way the floss quickly breaks the nerves or whatever holds the tooth in there. It always worked and is quick and painless, and that way you don’t have to risk getting bit by sticking your hand in their mouth. (I can only speak to having it done to me as I haven’t had to pull any teeth yet…)
Interesting. It sounds like it would work, but it also sounds too good to be true. I’ll let you know if I ever successfully use this method, and you do the same. :-)
My mother always says “teeth are nothing but trouble from the day you’re born til the day you die”.
Your mother was a wise woman.
I can’t offer any help. And I will be useless when I have to do it for my kids. I am also afraid of blood and pain like Ali so I refused to let anyone near my mouth and insisted on pulling my teeth myself. (I could stop if it hurt too bad, others wouldn’t.) My first two were horrible. The permanent teeth grew in behind them so I had 4 teeth in the space of 2. But once I got those out, the rest were good. I think it may have had to do with the “tooth tree” in kindergarten where we each hung a tooth “leaf” when we lost one and got a prize. The only thing I have to note is there is one tooth I didn’t pull. My neighbor bonked heads with me as we were getting out of the pool and my tooth fell out! (She was spending the night so the tooth fairy brought her a dollar too for her help with losing the tooth!) Good luck with the other 20 or so she’s got….plus Noah’s 20+ teeth….. Oy. That’s a lot. (P.S. Is Chris squeamish? Is this why this fell to you?)
It fell to me because Chris is a laid-back kind of guy. “Leave them alone, they’ll come out eventually.” It should also be noted that he is not the one that would have to endure the dentist’s visit if we made it to our 90 day deadline.
Shudder. I am very squeamish when it comes to the teeth. I have made T pull all of them except this week when one was literally hanging out of her mouth by a thread and she refused to touch it. He wasn’t due home for another five hours so I had to grab the bull by the…I mean the tooth by a paper towel and pull it. It was hardly in there but my stomach still turned over! Yuck. I hate anything and everything to do with teeth: teething, pulling, dentists, EVERYTHING! Good luck with the other one!
Speechless. 300 days?!?!?!? You are way more patient than we would be!
I don’t remember teeth falling out to be a big deal but time is a great healer… Now I’m really hoping none of my kids take after their Auntie Janice – she had two complete sets of baby teeth (freaked my mom out!)
Wow – their Auntie Janice would have freaked me out, too. I do NOT want this phase of life doubled.
I was exactly like Ali as a kid (and still am . . . I have only been brave enough to get one of my wisdom teeth removed – to which the dentist remarked, ‘that’s the largest one i’ve ever pulled out!’), so I will definitely be passing this responsibility onto my husband when that day comes! :) Good luck with the other tooth — I remember my dad tried getting me to eat a caramel apple to loosen one, it seemed to help!
She was proud of herself for eating a waffle fry with her loose tooth at lunch. I’m sure that helped JUST AS MUCH as your caramel apple.
I’m sorry but this made me think of this animated short..
My 9yo pulls her own teeth… she’s so focused on the cash reward that once we get a loose tooth, it’s a matter of time before she works that thing out and I have to restrict her access to kitchen utensils during that time. :)
If it were me, I’d totally just go to the dentist and let him do it. That way, he’s the Bad Guy and you are the Virtuous Mommy Who Provides Aftermath Ice Cream Cones. :D
That’s BEYOND fantastic. I hope my second is that motivated!