Shark Teeth

The story I’m sharing today is steeped in trauma. In fact, it’s so fresh I’m not sure I’ve completely processed it and healed properly.

This is the story of Charlotte losing her first two teeth. And seriously, I’m not exaggerating about the trauma.

It began about two weeks ago. The mildly loose two bottom teeth were starting to move just a little more. An excited Charlotte wiggled them a little and then demonstrated the wiggliness close enough for me to see the inside of her mouth. Just like her older brother, Charlotte had a nice set of shark teeth coming in. I learned the term shark teeth when two teeth showed up in the roof of Elliott’s mouth. Thanks google. His teeth came in so far back that the dentist had to get involved… extraction etc. By the way, no one ever told me about the perils of loose teeth and pulling teeth. I may have had less kids if I had known.

Charlotte’s teeth, however, were coming in very close to her baby teeth. The dentist recommended that she work on them and wiggle them and let us pull them at home. As the two weeks went by we wiggled and wiggled and tied floss on them and wiggled more. The more we wiggled the more paranoid and defensive Charlotte got. By the time they were loose enough to attempt pulling, her new adult teeth were pushed tightly against the baby teeth. And she literally would not let us touch them. She was terrified. We made several attempts and promised packs of gum, Care Bears, dollars. Nothing could bribe her into letting us pull her teeth. She would clench her lips and teeth together and sob as we tried to reason with her.

The day finally came when we could not let her go any longer. Her teeth were shifting and pushing on the baby teeth. It was all looking really messy. So with promises of lip gloss and other goodies we gave her a piece of ice to suck on, hoping it would numb her gums a little, and proceeded to talk her through the process of pulling her tooth. We went through almost an hour of her panicking, needing drinks of water and sobbing before she finally let me grab hold of her tooth with a little rag. The tooth was very loose, but the roots were still intact because the new tooth came in behind rather than under. With a fair amount of force I had to twist the tooth completely around to break it free for the gums and pull. As I twisted I could feel the gums ripping away and it literally took my breath away. As I tore the tooth free I broke down, sobbing and telling Char how sorry I was. I watched as the blood began to flow and her eyes grew wider with fear as she tasted it in her mouth.  I had to dig deep to gather myself and help Calvin get her to a sink where she rinsed with cold water until we placed gauze in her mouth.

I have watched my kids get hurt, I’ve sat with them in recovery after surgeries, I’ve held a terrified 5 year old in my arms and whispered “I’m your mom now” but I’ve never felt pain in my heart like this. Crying in general is rare for me… yet this event ripped my mommy heart in two. Kids lose teeth all the time but this was a full two weeks of tearful, terrified anticipation. And it was me who would inflict pain and end the anticipation of the dreaded event.

I’m not sure I was prepared to love so much, so deeply and so painfully. This was a tooth. But it caused me to think far into the future. About the pain I would endure with and for my kids. About the dangers lurking around the corner. About the possible trauma and heartache I would walk through with my children.

Removing Charlotte’s tooth (and a second one the next day!) was necessary. We had to create space for a new adult tooth that had already begun to take its place. The pain was an unfortunate but unavoidable part of this process. Many more necessary events will happen in her life that lead to growth and maturity, and from experience I already know some of these will be painful. What a weird revelation to have while ripping out teeth. To realize that the surprises and joys and sorrows of motherhood are really just beginning. To begin to understand that enduring with my children may devastate me to the core at times.

And as I began to ponder the implications of this new knowledge I realized even more how much I need to give to God in regards to my children. His wisdom and His word will be my lifeline as I continue to grow as a mother. And to be honest, I’m pretty scared. When you realize that motherhood is deeply complex with its range of emotions and attachments you start to take every moment pretty seriously. I do not have a wonderful, beautifully written advice-laden ending to this story. It simply ends with me, a mom at the beginning of a long journey… giving her burdens to the Lord and learning to trust him to speak truth into my life.

And also hoping beyond hoping for no more shark teeth.

About the author


Erica is an advocate for simplicity, family time, making a cozy home and loving others well. She is the community coordinator for One Orphan, the orphan care ministry of America World Adoption Association. Erica and Calvin have four young children; Elliott, Charlotte, Lola and Liam. They currently reside in Nashville, TN.

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