A Life in the Dentist’s Chair

On a regular day, the history of my mouth isn’t something I even think about, but the moment I walk into a dental office, that familiar smell nearly knocks me to my knees with dread. Memories of countless times before, sitting anxiously in the waiting room, flipping through magazines, wishing I was a model with naturally perfect teeth, wishing I was anywhere but there.

To say I’ve had a lot of dental work is a bit of an understatement. I’ve already written about some of it, and the anxiety I developed over the years in my post Oral Fixations. You would think that having been in the dental chair literally hundreds of times in my life would mean that I would approach the chair like an old friend. Not so. Not so at all.

Tomorrow I am having a consultation with my new dentist to talk about updating my bridgework and fixing my bite alignment. I really do want to do this. My jaw clicks when I chew and it’s uncomfortable. My bridgework is nearing 20 years old, and could use some refreshing. I want to be able to chew my food comfortably again, and, if possible, do it more gracefully.

In preparation for tomorrow’s visit, I was looking through some of my old dental records. I came across some x-rays and other weird things so I thought it would be fun to share. It reminds me of how far I’ve come, though looking at some of my earlier x-rays makes me kind of sad. I wonder if I was going through all this now, if they could have done more to save my natural teeth, and perhaps eliminated the need for 10 implants. I’m told that they would never do so many implants so close together now. But I’m also told that my doctors did a great job on my mouth, so that is good to hear, and I suppose it means it was all worth it.

Walk with me now, through some of my mouth’s greatest adventures.

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My first dental appliance – at least the first that I still have in my possession. This was the obturator that Mom and Gram had to wrestle and hold me down every morning to put in. It fit across the roof of my mouth and closed the hole in my palate so that I could drink my baby formula. (I have no conscious memory of this happening.)

 

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A snippet of the new patient form my mom filled out when I started with Dr. Prusak. Thank goodness for him. He was so kind and gentle and he really knew how to handle a scared little girl like me.

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Pano of my 5-year old mouth. Look at that beautiful bilateral cleft! My eye sockets look misaligned because I moved my head during the x-ray. I actually had a lot of teeth for someone with ectodermal dysplasia. Notice the creepy orbs with adult teeth buds in them in my lower jaw. I was probably scared out of my mind getting this x-ray, but I have no memory of it now.

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Dr. Bond created this to push my front teeth forward and my canines outward. It worked. It was attached to my upper arch with brackets on my back molars. I couldn’t take it out. I spent a lot of time working food out of it with my tongue after meals.

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Heres that contraption at work. My two front teeth started out twisted and pointing inward. Dr. Bond devised the metal sculpture to push those teeth forward. Every time I saw him he would adjust the wires just a tad until my teeth were finally in position, which it looks like they are here. This was before the bone graft to close my clefts, obviously.

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Another pano at age 12. Post bone graft. I was already sporting a mouthful of metal. You can see that some of my molars were still baby teeth with no adult teeth behind them.

Fast forward about 20 years – post LeForte Osteotomy and post implants…

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This is about how my mouth looks now, give or take a root canal and a crown or two. Talk about a metal mouth. I still have 9 real teeth, though they have been enhanced by crowns and root canals…

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This is a plaster model of my recent mouth situation. (They look like horse teeth.) The bottom ten teeth are part of a bridge that is screwed in to my jaw on 6 implants, and the top six teeth are a bridge that is cemented onto the top 4 implants. Only my molars in the very back are what remain of my natural teeth.

I expect I will be getting another pano x-ray tomorrow. If I can get a copy of it, I will definitely post it. Of course I will post about whatever ends up happening with my future dental work too.

You may be wondering, after seeing my current model, what I could possible still need to have done. Well, the top bridge has a terrible habit of coming lose and falling off. And you can’t tell from the model but there is a slight gap between the top of my bridge and my gums, which means whenever I eat, food squeezes through and nestles in the cracks between my teeth. Since they are fake, I can’t feel it, though I have learned to constantly be checking my teeth for bits of food, it’s really not ideal, and makes for some awkward social moments.

Also, as I mentioned – my jaw alignment has somehow fallen out of whack. And I’ve broken two teeth off the bottom bridge… because it takes three licks to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop… I can’t resist biting things I shouldn’t! 🙂

Stay tuned for whatever’s next in my dental adventure… xx

4 thoughts on “A Life in the Dentist’s Chair

  1. Lisa says:

    Ah, I have to comment on this — A fellow ED’er with a mouth full of metal! Well, porcelain anyway! My dental work is also starting to “get up there” in age. Got my bridge and all of my crowns at the same time 17 years ago, a little while after having jaw surgery to address a big underbite. A four-tooth bridge front bottom, plus 8 crowns. Everything that shows when I talk is fake — gives new meaning to the term “fake smile” 🙂

    Every year I think nervously about my aging dental work and my piddly bank account and dread the day that the first thing will break… Yes, sure, I could replace the teeth one at a time to spread out the money over a few years, but I’m told that would result in a patchwork of different shades of white teeth since kind of like a paint colour, they can’t match a colour exactly perfectly if they’re done in different batches. So…. trying to sock away the savings and not resent the fact that I will spend far more on my next set of teeth than I will ever spend on any car! (Ok, so I buy my cars second hand, but — still. Holy $$$) I try to think of the bright side as hopefully my next set of teeth will look better aesthetically than my current set. The temporaries the tooth guy had given me were gorgeous!!! **So** gorgeous, I was so so so happy with them! As in, over-the-top bright white Hollywood straight teeth style — but I loved them, felt so confident with them! But the permanents I received a few weeks later looked nothing at all like the temps — smoker’s yellow (I don’t smoke) and sticking outwards. I have never been as severely disappointed as I was the moment the tooth guy held the mirror up to me, to reveal his work with the permanents. Pretty big depression ensued for a long time after that and to this day I still cover my mouth when smiling/laughing. Oh well!

    Oh yeah, and funny (not haha-funny) you should mention your bridge falling off sometimes. My bridge has never fallen off (probably because it’s on the bottom, so gravity helps), but I’ve had various crowns fall off about five or six times over the years. I was so completely aghast the first time it happened — I was at work, eating lunch at my desk, then suddenly felt something hard and crunchy in my mouth. Oh man. I went straight home without telling anyone what happened — afterwards told them I had come down with a sudden illness. My fear is I’ll wake up one morning and find that one fell off overnight and I swallowed it! Uh oh!! Tee hee 🙂

    Ah, the joys of ED!

    Anyway, I guess I just wanted to let you know you’re in good company in the tooth adventures department 🙂 Do let us know how it goes with your dental updates!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heather McKelvie says:

      I felt the same! My temporaries were nice and white and pretty and when I got my bridge it was this massive hunk of teeth and while not exactly smokers yellow, it has a definite non white hue to it. Of course I wouldn’t want it to be blindingly white, but hey, if we’re gonna go with fake teeth we might as well make them pretty, right? Actually, I’ve joked that I would like my next set of teeth to have like one snaggletooth or something just so they don’t look so fake.

      Oh and I hear you on the $$ issue. I don’t even want to know how much has gone into my mouth over the years.

      Like

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