16 July 2014

22 : The New Age Tooth Fairy - Something New

My Tooth Fairy is a Periodontist

Turns out when you are over 40 and lose a tooth you don't get a visit from a magical tooth fairy visiting you through the night to leave gold coins under your pillow, complete with a sprinkle of fairy dust. Instead, when you are over 40 and need to lose a tooth it is off to the periodontist you go; where your tooth is unceremoniously ripped from the jaw that held it for all those years and you are sent home with a hefty bill instead of a shiny gold coin!

The dentist is not my favourite place to visit, like many people I put off the inevitable and avoid that drill a few weeks longer than I should. The trouble with this plan of action is that the problem that may have started out small turns into a bigger one the longer you avoid the inevitable. I can use the excuse of money as a genuine one, however, there really can be no price put on a situation that causes so much pain. The truth is that my problem started many, many years ago, but the latest in a string of events had been over 12 months of avoidance that led to the demise of my tooth.

I spent a great deal of time at the school dentist when young, commonly returning back to my classroom embarrassed to wear the sticker that warned everyone that I shouldn't bite my lip. I had teeth drilled, filled, poked at and pulled every single visit. It's no wonder now as an adult I choose not to go back to be maliciously assaulted unless absolutely necessary. Of course I now know they actually mean me no harm and that I am not a small child shaking in a cold chair without explanation anymore. Now I know fully well what is about to happen and why. I have no one else to blame but myself and whoever introduced me to sugar!

I have been plagued for many years from an unusual and very annoying ache, mixed with shooting pains from a certain tooth in my upper jaw. This particular tooth has caused me to undergo the removal of all four of my wisdom teeth and the cause of countless cavities over the years. The last awful dental visit came with recommendation for a root canal. Of course my response was quite reasonable, I just never went back. So it is quite understandable that when a huge chunk of tooth broke off one day over 12 months ago, I suspect the very tooth that had caused all these years of suffering, that I would react with the same diligence I had always had where my dental care is concerned. I dutifully and willfully ignored it and hoped it would magically go away.

After all, I wasn't in pain, yet. I decided that I would deal with it later and at least that part was right. I certainly did deal with it later! It was a couple of weeks ago when I admitted, even to myself, that the recent aches and difficulties with chewing was caused by a problem with one particular tooth. By this time the pain was so global it was really difficult to work out where it was actually coming from. It made sense to be from my tooth with the jagged edged hole, but I just couldn't be sure. I managed to isolate the pain to the top right jaw but was very disappointed to realise that at times the pain even shot around to the bottom jaw too. Even I knew that surely the likelihood of multiple cavities occurring at the exact same time was remote. It was all my own fault, I had left that tooth and should have had it repaired over a year ago.

It was probably a week of pain that increased by the hour before I shared my thoughts with others. Then I did what any sane person would do; I brushed my teeth - a lot - started using magic mouthwash designed to kill all sorts of bacteria and took bucket loads of pain relief. When all that didn't magic it away I rummaged through my tablets and even found some unused antibiotics I could try. Finally, in tears of pain and exasperation I complained to my husband that I had done everything humanly possible and the pain was only worse. I mean what else could I possibly do? He looked at me with disbelief, and told me to go to the dentist!

After a few more days of pain that had begun to interfere with one of the few pleasures I had left, drinking hot coffee. I made the dreaded phone call and organised an appointment, but made it four days later. I mean you shouldn't rush these things and I was still prepared to hold on to the fantasy that it might magically disappear all on it's own! It didn't, and the day arrived. Like a lamb being led to the slaughter I dutifully went to the dentist of my own free will and returned to that cold hard chair, determined to meet my fate head on. It was a lovely new dentist that day, for some reason they are always lovely people. What was there to be afraid of with such a smiley face?

After a chat and one simple xray and a bit of a poke around, the chair came back up, the glasses and bib were removed and I knew I was in for a big problem. With xray behind him for support the dentist started on his well worn speech, but the difference was he didn't know quite who he was dealing with. I was given all the options which I instantly said no to each and every one of. When he realised he was out of helfpul suggestions I gave him mine. I wanted the tooth out, and now. I was ready to give up this tooth which hadn't been kind to me for years, the pain I had endured was like no other and something I was never prepared to deal with again. He smiled and admitted that the tooth was not really worth saving, that a root canal at this point would have a high failure rate. He rang his periodontist friend and managed to get me an appointment in the city the very next day.

The periodontists office was amazing and instead of being afraid I was very determined to see it through and have my tooth removed in the chair with no general anesthetic. If I had wanted that I would have had to wait, waiting was not an option anymore. The periodontist was very professional and patient with me, such a kind man who laughed with me and not at me. He spent the time I needed and drew not one but two pictures for my benefit, he then spent the next 45 minutes attempting to extract tooth number 16 that was holding on until the bitter end.

After what seemed like an eternity and two extra shots of numbing local anesthetic out flew my tooth with a snap, nearly knocking the periodontist, the dental nurse and tray on the floor in the process. Or so I thought. My ordeal wasn't over yet, the tooth had snapped off and then the roots had to be individually drilled and plied out one by one! The gaping hole that was finally left went right through to my sinus and I was told that I was lucky this was not damaged in the procedure! After another lecture on caring for the remaining teeth I have left and sent home with a care sheet, an appointment was booked for 8 weeks to check on healing. Instead of a broken painful tooth, tooth number 16 in my mouth will be eventually replaced with a dental implant.

I'm told that the insertion of a metal screw directly into the bone of my jaw will be the easier part of the tooth replacement process, I had already gone through the worst. Once the numbness wore off I was ecstatic to realise that the horrible pain I had put up with over all those weeks and even years was actually gone, completely gone! Although I still have considerable healing to go through and nurse my poor jaw back from the bruising, I no longer have that shooting horrible aching pain and for that I am very, very thankful. 

So although my tooth fairy no longer pays me and has turned into a periodontist that I'm sure I'm personally sending on a very expensive overseas skiing holiday. I don't care, I have learnt my lesson and taking care of my remaining teeth is now my new priority.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this from someone that is a bit afraid of dentists, it is always good to read that other normal everyday-people also have their discomforts, and would much rather be doing something else, but alas, we all seem to crumble with age... again, thank you, it was very therapeutic reading your words.


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