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Molar Mass

Posted on Feb 20, 2016

This article is not about the chemical mass of something, but the actual physical mass of something.

A molar.

The entire kindergarden class got their teeth checked at the school (how cool is THAT?!) and afterwards, the dentist’s office called me. They said my 5 year old had a HUUUUUGE cavity in one of his molars, and I needed to bring him to their office for treatment. Yikes!

Obediently, I made the appointment. Then I got worried. Since my child was two and old enough to brush his own teeth, I’ve let him. Occasionally he’ll ask me to brush for him because he’s too tired, but that happens maybe once per month. But I’ve seen the way he brushes his teeth – he’s very thorough! Or so I thought.

When the dentist looked into his mouth, she gasped. Literally. Uh oh. They took x-rays. They studied them. Tut-tutted. I shrunk in my chair. Then they told me the news. They’d have to extract the tooth. It was half gone, and it was too late to save it. That wasn’t the worst of it – because it was a molar, they couldn’t put in a “spacer” so the other teeth would move in, and the molar waiting above to drop down wouldn’t be able to come out. He’d need major work done in his teens. WAAAAAAH!!!

Okay, one hurdle at a time. We made the appointment and my 5 year old danced out of there singing “I’m having my tooth pulled!” like it was a day at the park. I smiled encouragingly, but inside I was cringing. Little did he know the hell that was about to get unleashed upon him!

For the next week, he told everyone how he was going to have a tooth pulled. People didn’t know how to respond. I’d nod and smile at them over his head, hoping they’d take the hint and just be upbeat. “Wow, that’ll be exciting!” they said. He smiled and nodded and bounced away. Phew. The adult and I would exchange raised eyebrows and dread, both of us understanding the intensity of the situation.

Even on the day of the appointment, he went willingly. He was so happy, thinking it was really cool to have a tooth pulled. And probably that’s true – it IS cool when you’re five. But NOT when it’s a MOLAR!

He laid back in the chair, they gave him sunglasses, and he looked cool. I sat on the chair in the corner and winced. He didn’t know. He was too little to know. OMG, this is all my fault! I’m a bad mother. I should’ve brushed his teeth!!!


They numbed the area with gel that tasted like Jello, apparently. 5 minutes later they stuck in a needle to “put the tooth to sleep”. This went well, as the numbing had worked. Then the dentist started extracting the tooth. At first he took what looked to be a screw driver (!!) and started digging into the side of it, trying to get up under it I guess.

My 5 year old winced, said he could feel some pain. They cleaned away the blood (!!) and put in another needle. They tried again. Again he said he could feel pain, so they put in yet another needle. Now it was time for the pliers. The big, strapping dentist gripped my child’s head and started yanking on that molar like it was a rusty nail that had pissed him off!

My 5 year old said quietly “ow” and he began to cry. Quietly. He looked up at the dentist’s face and he sobbed, tears streaming from his eyes, and said “it hurts.”I was in tears. I covered my face with my hands and rocked back and forth on my chair as I chided myself. Then I pretended like everything was fine and I put my hand on his leg and said “just a few more minutes baby. He needs to try one more time and then it’ll be over! You’re being SO brave! I’m SO proud of you!”

The dentist put in one more needle. But he was so good, my son had NO idea that’s what was going on. He never saw a needle.

I covered my sobs with my free hand as I watched my little boy’s body being wrenched back and forth as the dentist plied that molar free. I ached inside because I knew how traumatic this felt for him, so invasive, so horrible. But it HAD to be done. When it was over, we all cheered and clapped. He was pissed off. He stopped crying but he just wanted to go home. I shuffled him out of there as fast as I could – he didn’t even want one of the prizes in the bottom drawer! EEK!

Have you ever seen a 5 year old’s molar? It’s massive! The roots are long and that sucker is hanging on for dear life! I’m certain it took all of the dentist’s strength to yank that tooth loose. Look at it!!!


Wait, that’s not even the worst picture! Here’s a picture of the rotten side:



Ewwwww, right?? Yes, pretty rotten. But my little trooper only needed one shot of children’s acetaminophen in the evening after the freezing wore off, even though his pillow had a big spot of blood on it in the morning. And the brave little guy went to school the next day, and proudly showed off his tooth to anyone and everyone. Teachers were shocked and impressed, kids were in awe.

Tonight he is putting it under his pillow. How much do you think he will get for this massive tooth?? I think he deserves at least a fiver for his bravery and resilience. I’d give him the moon if I could wrangle it!!



Tags: molar, extraction, dentist, kindergarden, cavity, needle, mouth, numbing, tooth, having a tooth pulled, five year old, cavities, the importance of brushing your teeth!