Monday, May 02, 2016

Tooth Tales: Stop again

Today wasn’t a good day, and there’s no sense (non) sugar-coating it: All my plans are on hold again. It may take a few weeks to get things back on track again (again). Still, it’s not all bad.

When the orthodontist was removing the mould from my bottom teeth, one tooth broke, both repairs that had been made and some of the actual tooth went with the mould. It was a tooth that was already identified as needing a crown, but no one knew it could break so easily.

I have an appointment with the dentist on Wednesday afternoon (the first available) for a consultation. Then, there’ll be another one to do whatever he’s going to do. After that’s all sorted, which could take several weeks, I’ll go back to the orthodontist for a new mould of my bottom teeth (the mould of the upper teeth was fine).

The dentist and periodontist had earlier said that four teeth (including this one) need crowns, which combined will cost more than the braces (no dental work whatsoever is covered in our national health scheme). Naturally, I wanted to put off that expense, particularly because at the time we didn’t know what was the orthodontic plans would be.

The good thing is that if the tooth was so prone to breakage, it might have broken at any point in the process, so better it happened before any work begins than later on. It might—theoretically—be possible to make a temporary repair, but I think I might rather get it sorted than take a chance on something temporary that may not last the distance. Trouble is, I can’t really afford a crown and the braces, so if a crown is the solution, then the braces would have to wait a few months. I’ll wait and see what the dentist suggests.

In the meantime, I have a very broken tooth pretty much down to the gumline. It doesn’t hurt, the orthodontist explained, because as we get older the nerve canal narrows. If I was fifteen, he said, I wouldn’t be able to stand it, not even breathing. Good to know there’s actually some benefit to getting older.

I’m worried about what might happen in the short term, before I see the dentist, because there’s not much tooth left. So, I’m having nothing but soups and very soft foods that don't require any real chewing until at least Wednesday when I see the dentist. I know how awful dental pain can be, and that means I’m being extremely cautious to not risk causing more damage or pain. As it is, I keep thinking it’ll be painful any second now.

I’ve been through this before, of course, thinking I was making progress toward my goal, only to get some unexpected news that stops everything while a problem is fixed: That’s what happened two years ago. So, in that sense, it’s disappointing, but nothing new.

But it’s nevertheless frustrating to come so far, and after so many delays finally be ready to get where I wanted to be—only to have the brakes put on yet again. I suppose I should console myself that this time the delay may only be weeks, months at most, and not years.

At my worst point today—because after I left the orthodontist’s office I did get kind of down—I thought that maybe two years ago I should have taken the periodontist’s most extreme option and had all my teeth ripped out and gotten dentures, because by the time all this work is done, crowns included, I’ll probably have spent a lot more than if I’d done that. That option would have been truly depressing, so thinking about it actually cheered me up. Weird, I know.

So, here I am again: On hold, waiting to begin. I’m pretty much over the initial disappointment already, since there’s nothing I can do about it, anyway (plus, blogging: I blogged, therefore I’m done with it). A lot of factors brought me to this point: Some bad luck, some genetics, some personal failures, but none of those can be changed. All I can do is deal with problems as they arise and keep moving forward.

These Tooth Tales have a little while to go yet before their conclusion, it seems.

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.


Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Yep, and that's why there's a quiet movement to have at least basic dental care included in our national health scheme. Kids get free dental checks, but adults don't, and so may not even know they have serious potential health risks because of, for example, periodontal disease. A free annual check-up and cleaning, at the very least, would help prevent many of those problems.

rogerogreen said...

While dentistry is in my health insurance, it is in no way as vigorous as the health care costs, and the co-pays in 2015 and 2016 have been far more I happen to think this is stupid; oral health is part of one's general health.

Torin said...

Aging sucks!

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Right?! On the other hand, it beats the alternative…