Dr. Erik Harrington was ready to call it a day. Closing time quickly approached at Highland Park Dental, the dentistry practice Dr. Harrington owns in the Park Cities.
But before he could get out the door—and to his own child’s soccer game—a staffer interrupted him. A pair of distraught parents and their scared 3-year-old daughter had just entered the office. Could he help?
It took him just one look at the girl to know that he wouldn't be making that soccer game.
“That little girl was so brave,” Dr. Harrington said. “She had this long curly hair and these big brown eyes. She looked like a princess, except for her mouth.”
Earlier, she had pulled a glass tabletop on top of her, fracturing her two front teeth. Now, she needed help.
Many dentists promise top service—but Dr. Harrington practices it. He didn’t hesitate; when faced with that scared girl, he went to work.
One of the fractures was minor and didn’t require medical attention. The second, though, was serious. That tooth was split down its middle and its nerve was exposed. It had to come out immediately.
Unfortunately, the patient was only three.
“How are we going to do this with such a young child?” Dr. Harrington asked himself. “I could hold her down, give her an injection, get the forceps out and pull the tooth. Sometimes you need one of the parents to help hold down the child. That’s really not a great option for a toddler.”
There was another option, though. Dr. Harrington has medical privileges at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. Many pediatric dentists send their after-hours emergencies to the emergency room, letting the residents there handle the issues.
He didn’t like that choice. For Dr. Harrington, emergency work is all part of providing comfort to his patients. In addition to the split tooth, his young patient faced a second challenge: No one could find the rest of her fractured tooth. She might have inhaled it into her lungs. To find out for sure, she would need X-rays.
“When something like this happens, the parents are naturally concerned,” he said. “Even non-life-threatening emergencies are scary for the children and parents. I want to help them every way I can.”
Dr. Harrington met the family at Children’s Medical Center where he learned that the family maid had found the missing piece of tooth. He gave the girl a mild sedative, which caused her to fall asleep for about 10 minutes, during which he removed the fractured tooth. The girl’s father remained in the treatment room the entire time.
“Now, that girl has a really cute smile,” Harrington said. “Her adult tooth will grow in the gap later.”
If you want to learn more about dental health and about the special care that Dr. Harrington provides to his patients, call Highland Park Dental at 214-521-3730. The office is located at 6725 Hillcrest Ave. in Dallas.
Highland Park Dental
6725 Hillcrest Avenue
(next to Starbucks in Snider Plaza)
Dallas, Texas 75205