My Worst Nightmare

RoomMom's teeth

Awhile back I wrote about my Cracked Tooth and subsequent visits to the dentist. The condition of my teeth has deteriorated since those visits, but I have largely been ignoring the pain when I eat ice cream and the twinges when I bite something with resistance. I just quit eating the painful food or switch chewing to the other side of my mouth.

I started noticing some receding gum on my top front tooth about a year ago and just hoped it would not move any further. I have heard from friends about grafting gum tissue from the roof of your mouth to rebuild the gum tissue on your teeth, and I am not interested. I can barely make it to my regular teeth cleanings.

ultrasonic-scaler

This morning was my long awaited semi-annual teeth cleaning (already re-scheduled once). We started out with a full x-ray of my head then moved on to 30 minutes of scraping, ultrasonic scaler, baking soda blast, and gum check. Finally, the dentist arrived to survey my throbbing mouth.

Here is a summary of Dr. Teeth’s comments:

  • Let’s start with the good news. No visible tumors or cysts in your x-ray.
  • The gum tissue on your #9 tooth has receded 3 mm. This is almost always a direct result of clenching and grinding. Imagine pushing on a fence post all the time. The dirt at the bottom of the fence post eventually loosens. That is what is happening to your top teeth because you are grinding your bottom teeth against the top ones while you sleep.
  • We need to deprogram your mouth and get it to relax using an appliance at night. It’s like physical therapy for your mouth. Once we get your jaw to relax, we can “reshape” (i.e. sand, drill) some of your teeth to make sure your bite is even (insert heavy breathing from TheRoomMom here).
  • If we don’t start some type of intervention, your top teeth will start falling out in about 10 years (insert more heavy breathing and slight tearing from TheRoomMom here).
  • Dental insurance won’t cover much of the cost (insert visible crying here).

Here is a summary of TheRoomMom’s comments:

  • Do I need to be seeing a therapist to reduce my stress levels?
  • When you say mouth appliance, are we talking that antenna headgear thing I had to wear when I had braces?
  • If I agree to all of this mouth therapy, can I avoid gum surgery and tooth loss?
  • Do you have a payment plan?

Apparently, Occlusal (Bite) Disease is fairly common and is often hereditary (oh good, I can blame my parents). The splint I will need to reduce the teeth grinding takes up about the same amount of space as a retainer so that alleviated a little of my worry. If I get my mouth to relax, my receding gums should stabilize and may even drop back down a little, although, not to their original position. The good news is I would not have my teeth fall out in the near future.

tooth splint

I also stopped in the Barre Evolution studio on the way home to sign up for classes to hopefully relax my muscles a little. Gaining weight, flabby arms, lack of muscle tone have not motivated me to get into any kind of regular exercise program. The threat of losing my teeth absolutely spurred me into action.

Anything traumatic happening at your house? Are your teeth the source of the trauma?

There’s a Crack in My Tooth

TheRoomMom

Let me set the scene for you. About 3 weeks ago I visited the dentist for a teeth cleaning. The dentist asked how my mouth was feeling in general. I admitted that I had some twinges here and there. Dr. Teeth located a cracked filling and a crack running down the side of the tooth beneath.

Here is a summary of Dr. Teeth’s comments:

  • It is a pretty wide filling but is not that deep, so we will try to save the tooth.
  • I can’t be sure how big the crack in the tooth is until I get the filling off the top, but you can see here (zooms in on tooth with his camera, so I can see on the video display screen) there is a crack that runs right down to your gum line (insert gagging noises from TheRoomMom here).
  • I see this a lot from clenchers and grinders. Do you notice that you clench and grind your teeth at night? Many moms do.
  • We will need to make an appointment for you soon. I book longer appointments for this procedure to allow time for the Novocaine to really take effect (first good news TheRoomMom has heard).
  • Until you can get in here, I would chew on the other side of your mouth. It is possible that the tooth could crack off if you bite on something the wrong way (insert more gagging noises here).
  • We could replace it with silver again, but you have a wide smile, so I would recommend porcelain, so it would match your other teeth (this is possibly a compliment).

wide smile label

Here is a summary of TheRoomMom’s response:

  • Hyperventilating and/or vomiting.
  • I have been down this path before. Dr. Teeth is talking about an onlay, which is basically a partial crown. The last time I had this procedure, my former dentist could not get my mouth numbed properly, which we did not realize until we were working on the tooth. I tried to tough it out, but by the end of the procedure, I had melded myself to the dental chair. I was sweating; the dentist was sweating; I ended up with a root canal and full crown, and I never visited that dentist again.
  • I explain my anxiety to Dr. Teeth. His comment? “That sounds unpleasant.”

Cut to today. My cracked tooth and I arrive at the dentist’s office. As promised, extra time is given to numb the bottom right side of my jaw. In fact, Dr. Teeth explains the “cocktail” of Novocaine he uses that is delivered in 3 separate shots. I continue to try to chit chat with Dr. Teeth and his assistant even though I am fairly certain there is uncontrollable drool. We begin.

Here is a summary of Dr. Teeth’s comments:

  • We have to get the silver filling off first. Since the tooth is cracked, it is unstable, and we don’t want it to break further. I am going to vibrate the silver filling off with a tool that is much like an egg beater. Chances are the filling will crumble.
  • When we suck the old filling debris into the suction tube, it may sound like pennies in your vacuum cleaner. Umm– OK. When I hear pennies in my vacuum, I STOP the vacuum.
  • (To the assistant) Did you see where that piece of silver went after it ricocheted off my glove? Do you still see it in her mouth? I think it landed outside her mouth. I thought that filling would fall to pieces as soon as we touched it.
  • Oh, look. There are 3 cracks. One runs right around the tooth. Check out the buckling. It’s bigger than I thought.
  • You may be sore after the numbness wears off. We messed with your tooth quite a bit today. If you have a throbbing sensation that lasts after you lay down flat or drink cold water, that indicates dying nerves. I need to know about that right away. (translation– root canal!)
  • Come back in 3 weeks.
  • We have a payment plan.

Is it just me or do dentist visits get more traumatic with age? All in all, it did not hurt, he saved most of my tooth, and it went smoothly. I like my dentist, but I do go back soon to permanently fit the onlay. What can I do to alleviate some of the fear? Valium is an option.