At Grace’s last transplant check up we were told her gums have reached the point that it was time to talk about “our options”... meaning a procedure to cut away the excess gums and allow her teeth some room (they call it surgery, but, calling it surgery seems excessive in comparison to her background). One of Grace’s medications... actually, the single most important medication she takes (her immunosuppressant, Cyclosporine), causes excessive gum swelling (and hair and fingernail growth). So, last week my Dad, Grace and I loaded up in the car and took another trip to Atlanta to visit the transplant specialty dentist.
When we got to the dentist’s office, Grace announced she wasn’t going to “take a shot.” :) Poor, sweet girl thinks every doctor’s office means lab draws. After we informed her there would be no needles involved in this trip, she relaxed and did phenomenally well!
We originally thought this visit was essentially just a pre-op evaluation and a chance to meet the doctor before “the procedure” since we already have a dentist in town. But, after looking at her gums he said he didn’t feel she needed the surgery right now! He said her gums and teeth are very healthy and although swollen, her gums are okay to watch for now.
He then looked in the back of her mouth and noticed her two year old molars on her right side are not in, but they are in on the left side. He said at her age (3 1/2) this concerned him slightly because of her medication. So we went off to the panoramic x-ray room where Grace stood on a stool and still managed to be too short! So we had to rig a contraption so she could fit and she stood so still that we were able to get some great pictures of what was going on inside her mouth. What this x-ray showed was the molars are present, but trapped behind some thick, callused gums and if we don’t address it soon it has potential for fluid to build up and cause even greater problems down the road. He prescribed some medication for us to apply to her gums twice a day to hopefully reduce the swelling and the callused skin. We will continue this for 6 weeks and then we will head back up to Atlanta for another x-ray. We are hoping this medication will work on her other swollen gums as well and help to reduce some of the excessive gums she has around her front teeth. If there is no significant change in six weeks, then Grace will unfortunately have to have “surgery” (again, this word seems excessive) to cut the thick, callused gums away and allow those molars to grow down. He said since she will have to go under general anesthesia for the surgery, he will go ahead and cut away the gums around her other teeth and “iron” them out. Let’s hope the medicine works so she can avoid another painful oral procedure!
While he had Grace in the exam chair he went ahead and checked her teeth and said we do a good job keeping her mouth clean and healthy and welcomed Grace to the NO CAVITY club. This is apparently a major feet for someone who has gone through her medical background, so it felt really good to hear him say it! He also polished her teeth and when he finished, Grace asked him to do it again! She LOVED all the tools and even the gritty toothpaste and the “teeth tickling” (scraping plaque with the hook thingy... which she had almost none of!).
Thank you all for keeping up with Grace and her progress. We have a big month ahead of us with Grace’s first day of 3K quickly approaching. She LOVED the summer fun program we sent her to this summer, so I have no doubt that “real” school will be no different! She will also be starting with a new speech therapist as well as taking a tumble time class and ballet lessons. She has shed all of her shy behaviors and really grown up a good bit over the past few months. I know this can all be directly attributed to how well she feels right now. It is such a blessing to watch her enjoy life and run and play the way she was meant to. I am constantly amazed and inspired by her and thank God for allowing me to witness and be a part of His work in such a constant, hands on way. Thank you for being a part of our journey and please continue to keep Grace in your prayers during this busy season... which can also mean germs! Please also say a prayer for our donor and his/her family.