Temporary Discomfort

I got my temporary lower bridge last week. It is a strange feeling to have something foreign in my mouth. Despite having had all kinds of weird apparatuses (I really feel like the plural of apparatus should be apparati, but apparently it’s not) in my younger days, I can’t say I welcomed the introduction of this piece.

These past few days have been filled with anxiety. First, I wondered why I thought it was a good idea to even get a temporary, when I could have just kept wearing my slightly broken lower bridge until we decided what to do. Because we still haven’t decided whether to fix the existing one or make a whole new one.

If you’ve ever had braces, or any kind of dental device, you know it takes some getting used to. This one is pretty snug, but there are a few points that seem to be pressing against my gums unpleasantly. One edge is rubbing at the crease where my lip meets my gum, causing a sore. Of course it’s the weekend so I can’t just go in and have him sand down that piece. When I try to eat with it, there’s this unpleasant squishing feeling as it mushes against my gums with every bite.

It’s bringing back memories of my younger days when I had to wear these kinds of things all the time. The mild taste of acrylic, the dull ache of pressure when I first put it in. The nagging sores where the edges rub. I must have much less patience now, because it’s all I can do to keep it in my mouth the whole day.

I know that if I can just bear through these first few days I will get used to it, as I have gotten used to all the other dental situations in my life. And I try to remember poor George Washington with his uncomfortable dentures, and realize that I am lucky to live in this day and age where my dentist isn’t cobbling together some mix of animal and human teeth for me to wear.

Another point of anxiety is wondering if I can get my insurance to cover any of this. My dental insurance maxes out at $1500. Which is nice if all you need is one crown, right?

In other news, I started listening to this audiobook:



Ever since I was a very wee lass, I have been terrified of internal organs. It’s a running joke in my family that I can’t even look at an animal heart, much less a human heart, or any other part for that matter. I have had nightmares about being in an operating room and needing to perform surgery on someone or being forced to participate in an autopsy (as the person wielding the knife, not the person on the table).

My fear has lessened as I’ve gotten older, probably thanks to gratuitous violence and gore on TV and in movies. But I am still pretty creeped out at the thought of body parts or of dead bodies. I suppose a great deal of this fear has to do with simply confronting my own mortality. I also suspect there’s a part of it that hearkens back to my earliest days in the hospital and in surgery and that feeling of a loss of control and surrender to the doctors and hospital staff.

So anyway, I’d had my eye on this book for a while and finally got to it. I’m only about three chapters in but so far it is morbidly fascinating and I have not yet had to stop in horror. Perhaps this will help me overcome my fears a little more.


Dental Update…

Last time I wrote I was excited because I went through my dentist appointment without having my bridgework removed. My doctor has since acquired the necessary tools to remove my lower bridge, so that was how I spent this Wednesday morning.

I made a quick video about it when I got home tonight. You can see I’m trying really hard to speak clearly. It takes me back to all the times I had surgery or orthodontic work and had to re-learn how to use my mouth. It really sounds like I say “meow” at 2:34.

Tomorrow I go back for a temporary bridge, so perhaps I’ll post an update of myself struggling to speak again tomorrow night!

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.


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.)



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.


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.


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.


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.


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…


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…


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

A Brief Recap of Recent Life

Hey ya’ll! My apologies for the serious lack of posts lately. As often happens, life seems to rise up and consume my time like a ravenous beast. I haven’t even taken time to do my morning Zentangles this week, which is an outrage. Here are some of the things I’ve been up to:

Last Saturday I noticed my upper bridge was a little wobbly. Ugh! I think I’ve mentioned before that it is cemented on to four implant posts. I guess that was cutting-edge technology in 1997, but it doesn’t seem to be the best long-term way to give a person a solid grille.

So I noticed it was wobbly, and being the neurotic person I am, I immediately began wiggling it to see how loose it was. Like a kid with a loose tooth, I couldn’t leave it alone. So of course I wiggled it until it came off. I had denture paste in the medicine cabinet, which will hold my bridge in enough to get by for a few days. So I used that, but then I was annoyed by the gross denture paste slime in my mouth, and the fear that anytime I talked or ate, the teeth would fall out again.

Fortunately I was able to get in to my dentist on Monday to have it cemented back in. Still that was an adventure in itself because while I was there, he decided to try and fix my bite alignment, which has been off lately. So he just randomly started grinding down one of the crowns in the back of my mouth. One of the crowns that I paid over $1000 for less than two years ago.

You may wonder why I would let him do that. I thought it was just one point of the tooth that was high and causing my bite to be out of whack, so I thought it would be a quick little adjustment. By now you’d think I would have realized that nothing with my mouth is ever quick. It ended up being a half-hour process of grinding down random bits here and there, lots of rinsing and spitting, and biting on carbon paper (or whatever that stuff is) and repeating the process to get my bite aligned. Even now it’s not really perfect, but I think he had to stop before grinding my molars to stumps. Ugh! I hate my life!

Just kidding, I don’t really hate my life, but I hate moments like that. I was lying there wondering why people are turned on by things like 50 Shades of Grey and BDSM, because I feel like my dental experiences involve dominance, bondage and masochism, and let me tell you, it does NOT turn me on. It just makes me want to punch someone.

Moving on. In exciting news, I finally bought a new car this week. I’ve been talking about it for at least five years, but there was always some obstacle that prevented me from doing it. Namely, being up to my ears in student loan debt. But in the last couple of years I’ve been saving money like a squirrel hoarding acorns and I finally had a nice amount in my savings account so I feel comfortable having a car payment in my life again. My credit score was through the roof, so I was able to get a ridiculously low interest rate, which also made me a happy camper.

In equally exciting news, tomorrow is the NFED Regional Family Conference in White Plains, NY. It sounds like there are a lot of people signed up to go, and the weather forecast is clear, so it should be a great turnout. I’ll be zoom-zooming down there in my new car and I can hardly wait to reconnect with people and to meet new friends!  I will write a blog post about that once I get back.

Now it is time to get ready for work! Happy Friday Ya’ll!  Here’s a little happy tune for you.