Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Dental Train of Fun


As I'm sure I've mentioned before (or maybe not), when I was a little kid I had a bike accident and smashed my front top teeth. I didn't knock them out completely, instead I broke them. So for the longest time (more than 10 years) I had my smashed teeth, with gold posts drilled into them for some stability, and bonding on top of that. Bonding is a sort of acrylic polymer that gives the cosmetic appearance of real teeth, but it is really fragile. I did a pretty good job as a kid keeping those intact. Sticky candy or carrots, it didn't matter how healthy something was, I still couldn't bite into it with my front teeth. For the majority of my childhood and teenage years I either had to cut everything up into tiny bite-sized pieces, or gnaw on it with my side teeth. I'm sure watching that delicate method was a treat. (And I still have nightmares about the bonding breaking- they're very vivid.)

When I was 10 or so the trauma finally caught up with those teeth and I had to have a double root canal to clear out the infection that resulted from either the bike accident, or another unfortunate fall that left a scar right between my nose and my upper lip. It didn't matter where it came from, all that mattered was the fact that I had to go through Christmas vacation with the abcesses draining from little holes in the backs of my teeth. I can still remember how that felt.

When I was 18 my mouth had finally gotten big enough (har har) for permanent crowns. YAY! The dentist prepped my teeth for them, took some more X-rays, and sent me to an endodontist to get the root canals re-done on those teeth because they saw the slightest shadow of infection around the root. YUCK. But when I was finished I did have teeth that were functional. Perhaps not perfect, but functional.

10 years later.... Two weeks ago one of my crowns was feeling sort of... funny. I had a cleaning scheduled so I didn't worry about it too much. In I went. The hygenist took some X-rays. All I heard from her was, "uh oh".


In came the dentist. "Uh oh."


The roots of two of my front teeth had completely dissolved. All you could see on the x-ray was a black void that was pretty much entirely infected tissue. Going up into the bone. GROSS. My dentist didn't even miss a beat, "Those teeth have to come out."


So we discussed options. Implants would be great, but I'd have to wait for the bone to heal up from the infection. That could take up to a year - with some sort of "flipper" bridge thing holding the space and making it hard to talk - so that's not really an option. The best thing for me was a permanent bridge- where they take the teeth on either side of the extracted teeth and put crowns on them with fake teeth attached to span the gap (one already had a crown because it was an original bike accident tooth, the other was a perfectly good tooth).

Two days later I was back in the dentist chair. And getting teeth out? Really not bad. Certainly not as bad as root canals. They gave me nitrous oxide and popped in a movie and I could have hung out there all afternoon. Well, okay, I pretty much did- it was a three hour appointment. She gave the first one a wriggle and then a little tug and out it came. The second one she wriggled and then just barely pulled and it came out so smoothly that I didn't even feel tug. That tooth was just waiting to come out. I'm lucky I wasn't sitting in some big important meeting at work and have my tooth just fall out on the table like a tic-tac. HOW PRETTY WOULD THAT BE? Anyway, extractions are a cake-walk.

So I went home all numb from the novocaine, and I took some Advil and I was great.

Until two days later. That Saturday night I wanted to die. I gave in and took some Lortab the denist had prescribed. The next day I called her for some antibiotics. I was sure with all of the throbbing that it MUST have been infected. So I went to the pharmacy and take one with the Lortab and life was good. (I really love Lortab.)

Until a few hours later. MHM drove me to Cheesecake Factory for a congratulations dinner (YAY PROMOTION!) and I started feeling WEIRD. Very sleepy and not myself at all. I made it throught dinner okay- food really seemed to help. We got home and I sat down to watchTV and then I realized I was not breathing.

Now when I say I'm not breathing it isn't like my throat was closing up and I was gasping for air. I would take a breath and think to myself, "Well, that felt weird. I wonder how long it has been since I did that?" I guess the proper term would be labored breathing. I got the blood pressure monitor and while my blood pressure was fine, my pulse was around 50 beats a minute. My resting heartrate before I even get out of bed in the morning is never less than 60. So at this point I started to freak out a little.

I called my dentist and she told me I should probably go to the emergency room, but that I could try some Benedryl first. MHM drove me to the grocery store and I got a bottle of children's Benedryl and drank some on the way home. In about 15 minutes I was feeling much MUCH better. (Meanwhile MHM, who had been completely calm and collected and reasonable got home and practically passed out once it was obvious that I was going to be okay. Poor guy. I put him through a lot sometimes.)

The next day I went back to the dentist and I didn't have an infection at all- I had dry sockets. Really painful. She packed them full of cotton pads soaked in clove oil, which lasts about 36 hours (it does help with some of the pain) and I couldn't take anything stronger than Advil because I'm not sure what the reaction was to- codeine based drugs or amoxycillin? I'll need to go to my GP and find out.

So, am I ever getting the permanent bridge? After the holes close up in my mouth I have to do about a week's worth of whitening. (That was not an option when I got my first crowns, and these things last about 10 years so I want them as pefect as I can get them. Because damn it what I am paying for this had BETTER buy perfection.) Then I will go to the lab to get my bridge custom shaded. THEN they'll make the bridge.

The really cool part? Just like a nose job, I got to pick my new teeth. I never really thought about the shape of my teeth before, but now they're going to be slightly more... feminine. Pretty rounded woman teeth, instead of the clunkers sitting in a little box on my coffee table.

Oh yeah, I kept those nasty old teeth! They're like a science experiment!


Heather Meadows said...


Now that is a story!

I'm glad YHM was there to be with you through all that. And I'm glad the technology exists to give you new teeth :) And I'm glad you're able to afford them!

My family has its share of tooth brothers both have the same thing as our grandmother, where the teeth just kind of break apart after awhile. My grandmother has been wearing dentures since she was 20. My brothers are having their teeth replaced. One of them already has a bridge but I think he's going to get implants eventually.

I haven't had any problems myself, but then again I haven't been to a dentist in awhile...

Anonymous said...

Heather - This is Howie, Dayle's "HM". Dayle shared this blog with me, and I ran by her a gift idea for the holidays that I had for you. I was thinking of buying those vampire plastic teeth for you! Dayle wouldn't get it for you, but I might. I just wanted to forewarn you.

Yet Another Heather said...

Really, at this point all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth... vampire or otherwise.

But I guess I should be more specific. Those tacky "Bubba Teeth"? Not so much. I might draw the line there.