Thursday, August 8, 2019

Success!!! (of the non-writing kind)

Today I had the first major procedure on my teeth since I was fifteen years old when I had a quartet of teeth pulled (two molars and two wisdom teeth). Outside of braces and a few cavities, my mouth had been relatively drama free since then despite the fact that I haven't always been on top of regular cleanings.

Last month I learned I had receding gums and was told that if it wasn't addressed eventually my teeth would start falling out. Luckily, they have a fix for that. They basically cut the gum and pull it away from the teeth, and insert donor tissue (you can also use tissue taken from the roof of your mouth, but then you have an additional site that has to heal), then stitch the gum back up over the new tissue. Not only does this cover the area exposed by the receding gums, but it also prompts the surrounding tissue to regenerate, creating even more of a buffer. And since other than the gums my teeth appear to be in great shape, this should prevent potential tooth loss going forward.

One of the things that really got my attention during the diagnosis is that I assumed it was due to age, but both the dentist who caught the condition and the periodontist who performed the procedure told me that it was more hereditary than anything. My Mom had serious dental issues for at least the last twenty years of her life. Part of the problem is that her previous dentist apparently wasn't really on the ball and by the time she got a good one a lot of the damage was done. She lost countless teeth, had multiple root canals, had to have partials, and was limited to what kinds of food she could eat. And even with all the treatment, she had constant complications as her teeth continued to crumble. Keep in mind that the dentist and periodontist who treated me never met or treated her, so they had no way of knowing how bad her situation had been. My Dad also experienced significant tooth loss the last five or so years of his life, so this stuff definitely runs in the family.

I'm looking at a total of about four weeks to complete recovery, and today was only the top and bottom of the right side. I figure I'll have them do the left side (which isn't nearly as bad) after the first of the year. Luckily the front teeth don't have a problem but I'm guessing if I didn't address the situation, those would have been affected eventually as well.

I've been home for about an hour and while the numbness is still pretty bad, I can tell it's starting to wear off. I'm stocked up on soups, soft food and stuff to make smoothies, so I'm all set for the weekend!

Don't neglect your teeth, people! Given my spotty dental care record, I feel like I may have just dodged a bullet.

By the way, if you're in the Arcadia area and need a periodontist, hit me up for a recommendation. The doctor and his staff were just wonderful and what could have been an extremely stressful experience for me ended up going about as well as I could have hoped for.

8/10/19 update: Okay, so the swelling has started (one side of my face is much fatter than the other, and that's saying something) plus once the numbness wore off I could poke my tongue over there to see what it felt like. It felt sore and pulpy and gross. Guess this is going to be a little rougher than I anticipated, but still not as bad as when I had four teeth pulled at once. Also, I did a bit of a rewrite on the original post, which showed signs of the sedation drugs not quite having worn off when I wrote it :)

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