}

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Tooth spaces

Today was a sort of interstitial in these Tooth Tales, a space between different parts of the story. I didn’t know that beforehand, and I don’t know what, ultimately, the next phase will be. But, at least the scope of the journey is clearer.

As I said in the first post in this series in this series, this whole thing “began with a quest for a prettier smile”, something that was put on hold for the better part of two years.

When I last saw the periodontist, he wanted me to have my dentist add points of contact with some teeth to prevent food getting stuck there, ultimately causing gum problems. He said I could do that in early December.

A number of factors delayed that, not the least the holiday season, but there was one more: I needed a dentist.

The dentist I saw way back at the very start of this journey sold the practice and moved away, so, since I’d have to get used to a new dentist, I decided to get one closer to home. I chose one a family member used. My appointment was today—the first he had available.

This dentist, like the first one, does cosmetic and reparative work as well as general dentistry. However, this one seems more keenly aware that costs are an issue (general dentistry isn’t included in our national health system, and cosmetic dentistry certainly wouldn’t be). For me, this is a plus: He discusses relative costs v. benefits so I can make an informed decision.

He found a couple small holes in back molars that need repairing (on February 3—again, the first available appointment for it). He also pointed to four teeth all on one side (two on the upper jaw, two on the lower) that may need more extensive work, including possibly two crowns (!), and one of them may then need a root canal because it may not survive. Nice.

However, much of that will be decided in consultation with the periodontist. Among other things, it’s important that the disease be dealt to before trying anything like that (the first dentist had said one tooth would normally have needed a crown, but the disease needed to be dealt with first).

The cosmetic work is even more complicated. Because the gap between my front teeth is so large, and because the one tooth has dropped, veneers aren’t suitable for me. I wasn’t surprised by that. The dentist also pointed that with all the trouble I’ve had, putting fake stuff on my teeth isn’t a good idea.

So, the dentist is referring me to an orthodontist to see if I might be suitable for what they call an “intrusion”, which means, basically, forcing the tooth that’s dropped back up, at least a bit. If that can be done, then it may be possible to get braces to close the gap in my front teeth. If it’s possible, the process will take about two years. Which means, I’d probably be all done a bit before my 60th birthday. I gasped a bit silently when I realised that.

While I wasn’t surprised that veneers aren’t right for me, there was a small hope in my head that maybe I’d be surprised and it would be okay for me. After some two years to get to this point, I’m just impatient to move on, so adding another two years on to the process is a little demoralising. However, the whole point to this process has been to keep my teeth, and it seems more than a little stupid to risk them now.

Ultimately, this is about fixing my teeth and making them, and my gums, healthy, and about a prettier smile only secondarily. So, what’s possible will be guided by that goal. Also, while it may seem a little confusing having to deal with a dentist, a periodontist, an orthodontist, and possibly an endodontist (if a root canal is needed), I think the positive side is that I have team to work out the best solution, rather than having to just go with what one person says.

Still, after some two years of this, with maybe that much more to go before I enter the maintenance phase, I’m a little tired of it all. I’m sure I’ll feel more positive, though, if it turns out that I can have some cosmetic work done; if I can’t, well, then the process will be shorter. A win either way, really. At least I know what the scope of the journey will be.

And that’s the tooth of it.

The image above is a reproduction from the 20th US edition of Gray's Anatomy, and is in the public domain. It is available from Wikimedia Commons.

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