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5 Tips to Prepare Your Child (and yourself) For Surgery

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Thursday was terrifying.  Any parent who has had to watch as your child is put under anesthesia and wait in a room while other (trained) people take care of them, get this.  Thursday was the culmination of several anxious weeks of preparing for this day.  As our family worked through the best way to prep our five year old and ourselves, we came up with some realistic tips to help others.

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In July we went in for our routine dental check with our old family dentist.  We saw that my son had a chipped molar with a cavity and were referred to a pediatric dentist.  We finally got into see one that was local to us and she left a bad taste in our mouth.  So we had a few other second opinions (I guess these would be 3rds and 4ths right?) and were shocked when we found out exactly what needed to happen.

That chipped molar was just the start.  It turns out that my little guy has a few things working against him.  First, his mouth is too small to hold all his baby teeth (which, means that most likely there won’t be room for the big ones either).  This has caused his molars to be very tight together and flossing to be a struggle.  Let’s be real though, flossing is a struggle anyway when you are dealing with a feisty 5-year-old.  This lead us to the second part; almost every single molar had a cavity in between the molars.  So although we had been brushing very consistently, it did little to help his squished together teeth.  Finally, his enamel is not very strong (genetic link I think) which has also probably lead to some of these issues.

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About 5 minutes before we went back to have surgery. 

Prognosis and Treatment:  Put my sweet 5 year old under anesthesia for 2-4 hours while the doctors crowned, filled and sealed his baby teeth to hopefully save them until the big ones come in, in 6-8 years. Also we have prescription tooth paste and dental check ups every 3 months as well as a crazy evening toothbrushing routine.

Last Thursday, we went in, he went under, surgery lasted 2 hours with less work than expected and he came too with a bit of an attitude but healthy and alive.  This family was relieved!

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His face felt “funny” he said.  That among other various things.  Like he wanted to chew like a T-REX…

Putting my child through this and our family as well was not an easy decision but one that was necessary for his overall health.  It took a lot of thought and time but in the end was a great choice. However, there was not a whole lot of information out there to prep both my child and myself for that fateful day.  I came up with a few tips that I think were helpful for us. 

  1. ASK QUESTIONS: Our pediatric dentist was fantastic.  Not only did she have the anesthesiologist call the night before to answer any questions, but she also made sure to check in with us several times.  I literally asked questions like “what is your death rate?”, “How do you handle emergencies?”, “What is the likelihood that my son could have side effects from the anesthesia?”.  Can I tell you that by the time we go to the actual surgery I was less of a mess.  I felt more confident and although I was worried, it did not project to my child and that was VERY important to me. 
  2. TALK TO YOUR CHILD: My son is smart.  He knew that he was missing school to have his teeth fixed.  He knew that he would have to go to sleep.  He knew that I was going to be right there when he went to sleep and when he woke up.  He knew all of this and more because we talked about it.  We made sure that he knew why he needed the procedure and that he could be in a bit of pain after.  We also prepped him for the post-surgery expectations as well.  We calmed his fears as they came up and most importantly we were there for him with love and assurance. 
  3. MEET THE DOCTORS: Before I sent my child off with people he had never met to just take a nap while his teeth were fixed we made sure that he met the doctors, had been to the office and was comfortable there.  The minute we pulled up to the location my son said “Oh, I remember this place, are they going to play a movie?”  Right before they took him back the anesthesiologist came out and talked with him, explained what he was going to do and made some funny jokes.  The nurses did the same as well as the doctor.  He walked into a room of smiling people who made him laugh with his mommy in hand ready for a nap. 
  4. KEEP BUSY: My son was the second surgery of the morning.  The mom that was in before us had only brought a pillow and cell phone.  She was a wreck; crying, pacing, just trying to find something to do.  I on the other hand brought my mom, my daughter, my school work, my grading, my phone and the kitchen sink to keep busy and distracted.  When the office staff came out to tell us that they were almost done, I felt like I had literally just blinked.  It went that fast. 
  5. BE PREPARED FOR POST-OP: Read up or discuss with your doctor side effects and needs after surgery.  I knew nausea could be an issue so I made sure to bring vomit bags for the ride home, I dressed him in comfortable clothes as I knew he would be sleepy, we had pain meds already on hand so we didn’t need to run to the pharmacy and I purchased tons of soft foods that he loves to help his snack time cravings.  I also made sure that he was well rested and cared for with limited activity for several days.  It really helped his transition and made recovery much easier. 
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The very next day.  It was like he never even had a surgery. 
Our little guy recovered fantastically, was his old self by the next morning and had no pain.  Literally none, which surprised the heck out of me.  I want to thank everyone for checking in on us, sending love, prayers, good juju and sweet sentiments.  We appreciated the outpouring.

So parents, have you had a major medical crisis with your child yet?


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Tuesday 17th of August 2021

Thank you!! My 5 year old has dental surgery this Thursday and I’m a wreck searching for tips!! This was awesome.


Wednesday 18th of August 2021

I was a wreck too! It went so well. I will keep you all in my thoughts this week!


Thursday 4th of March 2021

Thank you so much for writing this and sharing!! My little guy, also 5, will be having dental surgery in the morning! Worried mommy here as well.


Sunday 14th of March 2021

how did it go???


Monday 24th of February 2020

My daughter is about to go through the exact same thing. Thank you for sharing this... it is scary but sharing does help very much. Erin


Monday 24th of February 2020

Thank you so much for commenting. We are 5 years out and I still 100% stand behind this. You and the kiddo will do great. Good luck!

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