The Over 50 Writer

CAN YOU TAKE YOUR TEETH OUT?
1/15/2017 12:21:00 AM by: Patti Shene

“This is my grandma, and she can take her teeth out.” I don’t remember saying that when I introduced my precious Grammie to my first grade teacher. I heard the story repeated years later. Of course, my grandmother was mortified.

 

I don’t suppose I thought at the time that I would someday be able to take my teeth out, but here I am. I’ve always had dental problems that required multiple appointments and expensive charges over the years. Up until now, my teeth have been salvageable through drilling, filling, root canal, cap or crown.

 

This particular culprit started out as a root canal that should have been resolved in June. However, my husband passed away that month. In addition to the emotional turmoil his death precipitated, Due to insurance issues, I was unable to schedule the procedure until September. I was thankful the antibiotics I had taken in June kept the problem at bay for that long.

 

Fast forward to a couple of weeks prior to Christmas, when I noticed the niggling sensation that warns of a tooth that needs attention. I thought it was a different tooth, but when I went to the dentist (different from the endodontist who performed the root canal), he could find nothing. However, he did recommend return to the endodontist since root canals can sometimes cause problems not detectable on X-rays.

 

My face was swollen on the right side to the point where I looked like a lop-sided chipmunk. The tooth wasn’t really painful in itself, and several teeth seemed to be involved. Over the next two days, while waiting for the endodontist appointment, I almost had myself convinced I was dealing with a sinus infection. I’d never had one, but others who have described similar symptoms to mine. I almost cancelled the endodontist, who is eighty miles away, in favor of an appointment with my family physician, who is only twenty miles down the road.

 

The endodontist’s office personnel had called the previous day to confirm for the next day, and I explained my reservations about keeping the appointment then. I was told I could cancel in the morning if I chose to do so. The next morning, I had decided to cancel, but when trying to call them, I kept getting three rings followed by a disconnect. Was this God telling me I really did need to see that dental specialist?

 

Perhaps so, because when he checked me, he discovered the root canal was defective and the tooth would require oral surgery. He ordered antibiotics and scheduled  the surgery for two weeks later. After five days, the swelling was not improving, so he prescribed a new, stronger antibiotic. I was to return a few days before the scheduled surgery to make sure all the swelling was down. It wasn’t, and the antibiotic was increased both in dosage and frequency.

 

The day I returned for the oral surgery, I was prescribed a mild anti-anxiety drug, one pill for the night before and one that next morning. I had informed the dentist I’m an A number one coward in the dentist’s chair, and the nitrous he had used for the root canal was not an option.

 

It relieved my anxiety all right. It completely zonked me out. The last thing I distinctly remember is the endodontist informing me the surgery could not be performed because “the tooth is cracked and will need to be extracted.” Nice. A front tooth!

 

We were referred back to my original dentist, a few blocks away in the same town, who would take impressions and discuss options with me. I have a vague memory of being instructed to “bite down into this goo,” and me responding, “I didn’t think they even did that anymore!”

 

I remember nothing after that until we turned down my street and parked in my driveway. There is absolutely no recollection of the eighty mile trip home. No, I wasn’t driving! I was blessed that my daughter was able to get the day off from work!

 

It was a shock for me when she came over later that night and showed me photos of the replacement options for the tooth to be removed, from a removable partial to an implant. Apparently, I was present for the entire discussion, but you could not prove it by me.

 

The tooth extraction was scheduled for the following week, but due to scheduling issues and inclement weather, it was almost two before I was able to get the procedure done.

 

Finally, I’m wearing a removable piece that replicates my former pearly white. The soreness has decreased considerably, but I talk like I have a mouthful of marbles and every time I eat, I feel like I’m going to choke.

 

I guess this is one of the many hazards of being over 50. Teeth just don’t seem to hold up for the duration of our lifetime.

 

You’ll probably hear more about this story as the year progresses. I have to make a decision for the long term, since this temporary appliance won’t last forever. I know I may have a long road ahead as far as a permanent fix. I’ve been quoted a projected expense of $4000.

 

Maybe I should have followed my mom’s advice, who informed her dentist, “I’ll make toothless old hag a fashion statement before I spend that kind of money!”

 

Did you enter the New Year facing an unpleasant circumstance you would like to share?


The Over 50 Writer


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