Teeth. Chompers. Pearly whites. We take them for granted. When they are solid and strong, we can bite, chew, talk. When they are brittle and brown/black and broken or worn away, it causes pain, difficulty eating, infections. Gianna has had quite a journey with her teeth. When she was found, she had very poor dentition. When we met her, she had a few adult teeth poking through. Since we've known her, she's grown two nice healthy front teeth and a few molars are coming in nicely. I'm going to be perfectly honest - up until 5 months ago - I'm not sure how she chewed. Her mouth was always crusted with yellow on the edges - signs of the infections dwelling within. I have decided not to post pictures of her teeth before revision for her sake. We love everything about Gianna, and we love her just as she is. Even when we first met her and her teeth were at their worst - we loved her beautiful smile and knew it was just part of her and how she looked. We got used to them so quickly and much of the time didn't even give them a thought. But we also talked to her about it and used a line from the book "Corduroy". "We love you just as you are. But you'll probably be more comfortable with strong healthy teeth." It was apparent from the start that they caused her pain and difficulty eating - even though when we would ask if her teeth hurt she would say "no". She seemed self-conscious about them and we tried hard to present an air of gentle acceptance. She was very proud of the few white teeth she had on the bottom, and the two on top that were growing in quickly.
The first dental visit was scary, but Gianna did great and made faces for the dentist so that she could see all her teeth. As promised, she collected some treasured dolls with every visit.
She had 12 rotten baby teeth that needed removed, and four 6-year molars that had come in in the orphanage and needed filled.
The first tooth fell out in the playground. The second day of school, she fell and landed directly on her mouth. Sure enough, on the way home in the van she pulled out one of her baby teeth. On the top on the right side, it came out root and all. Under the pillow it went and the next day she got a necklace! She was very excited about that.
The next 3 teeth came out a week before her surgery. They treated her for 3 abscesses the first visit, and then it was almost 3 months until her surgery. I suspected that the abscesses would either come back, or she would need to be treated prophylactically. I was ready to call about this issue before her surgery, but sure enough 2 1/2 weeks before her surgery she started complaining about a painful tooth. I looked in there and even though I have limited knowledge, I was pretty sure it was an abscess. The dentist office got her in the next day. Not surprising, there were three more abscesses.
The next tooth was pulled out by Gianna again. One of the rotten front baby teeth was being pushed up in front of the growing adult tooth. It was broken and sharp. This probably was terribly uncomfortable scraping on her lip all the time. She pulled at that thing quite a lot - she was determined to remove it. Eventually she was successful! Another visit from the tooth fairy! She was coming to our house a lot there for a while!
Now there were only 7 teeth left to remove in surgery. The surgery day came and Gianna did great! The dentist doing the surgery removed 8 teeth (my math didn't work out, not sure where the 8th one was hiding) and filled the four molars. Finally all her baby teeth were gone. Her smile looked different immediately, and then the difference was even more profound when the swelling went down. All of a sudden, she was left with an adorable gap-toothed but healthy set of teeth! Four molars are all coming in quite quickly, so soon she will have biting AND chewing power! And we are excited that she can be finally free from all that pain and difficulty eating. Thank you God for talented and dedicated dentists! They were all wonderful at Canton Pediatric Dental and at Akron Children's Hospital. Thank you!
surgery day, recovering and eating a popsicle
ready to go home, still dazed and tired
eating more soup and pudding than I though was humanly possible