My Dental Adventure:

Or, how to put a car in your mouth.

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When I was born, I had a cleft palate.  I was one of the fortunate children who didn’t have a cleft lip too (less surgery/severe).  Apparently, this left me susceptible to infection because I learned a few years ago that I lived on antibiotics for the first 18 months of my life.  Strike one for my poor teeth.

When I was three, my mom got a full set of dentures.  Strike two for me… heredity and such.

I had a baby when I was seventeen.  Strike three.

My first encounter with a dentist was when I was eighteen.  My jaw was broken and he was trying to decide whether to wire my jaw shut himself or have it done when I got home.  He waited.  Jaw broken and wired shut for six weeks= strike four.

I managed to scrape through the wired shut thing without a cavity.  I didn’t get my first one until I was 22 and pregnant with my fourth child.  Strikes five, six, and seven (in baseball, I’d have been out hours ago.)  That was my first real encounter with a dentist doing dental work.  Let’s just say that it’s a good thing I know not all dentists are jerks with their heads lost in their armpits.

After I had Jenna (strike eight and nine now since Nolan was in the middle of it all), I noticed my jaw was “caving in” for lack of better description.  Teeth were migrating, curving so that the upper teeth hit the side of the bottom tooth more than the top… I decided I wanted dentures.  The dentist said, “Can’t do it… your mouth can’t support them.  We have to save these teeth.”  Strike ten.  I spend thousands of dollars to “Save the teeth” and in six months, they’re crumbling.  I learned a valuable lesson at that time.  If I let my teeth rot, I get them for six years.  If they work on them, they crumble in six months.  Guess which option I chose?  Strike eleven.

Now, people wonder why I didn’t go to a different dentist.  I did.  He wanted to save the teeth too.  I heard it over and over.  “You’re too young for dentures”  (no one thought mom was too young!).  Strike twelve.

Ethan and Lorna are born.  Strikes thirteen and fourteen are on the map.  I’ll never get to bat again with this average.

Time passes.  Teeth crumble, I pull out the shards, they get worse and worse looking until they even bother me.  (We all have our vanities but my teeth were never attractive to begin with so I really didn’t care).  Fortunately, they RARELY hurt.  It truly is a huge blessing that my mouth wasn’t painful 99% of the time.  I’d have a day or three every other year or so but other than that, I was fine.

A couple of weeks ago, my last tooth that had an upper mate crumbled.  This meant that there were now no two teeth together with which to masticate my food.  Strike fifteen.  Time to get serious.

I prayed.  I went online, and I started looking.  I spent hours reading, researching, and investigating.  Finally, I took the plunge and made an appointment, online, with a dental group 90 miles away.  They had everything I wanted.  Digital x-rays (less radiation), an in house surgeon (everything done in one place), they seemed to do a lot of dentures, and best of all, they did dentures the way I wanted them done.  I filled out the paperwork and everything on Saturday.  Sunday morning I get a call to confirm my appointment.  I didn’t know whether to be impressed or dismayed.  Who confirms/makes appointments on a Sunday?

Friday morning, Kevin and I got up, got in the car, and went.  I prayed like crazy.  I had my HK and WS friends praying.  It was crunch time.  I needed someone to listen to me.  That’s pretty much all I wanted– someone to listen.

We went to Target, bought a few things, and then headed over to the offices.  I arrive… We’re 30 minutes early so we just sit there instead of trying to go anywhere else because what else are we going to do, y’know?

Once my name is called, they want to do x-rays first.  Take me to the room… gal looks at my chart and says, “I can’t do the x-rays.”

I sighed.  “Why?”

“It says you might be pregnant.”

Kevin is now visibly irritated and I am in my ‘deliberately patient mode’ (appropriate for the dr/dentist’s office, right?)  “No, it says it is a possibility.  I specifically added that I was not pg at the time I made the appointment, but because I’m of childbearing years and am married, I had to mark ‘yes’ where it says, ‘Are you pregnant or could you be’.  I could be… but I’m not.”

She leads me up front.  They want a Dr’s note saying I’m not pg before they’ll do X-rays.  “We just drove 90 miles to consult here, and I am not getting a Dr’s note to say I am not pregnant.  You ask if it’s a possibility on your website and I have to sign to say what I’m telling is true.  I couldn’t put no when it is a possibility even though as of today, I can guarantee that I am NOT.”  (I wanted to say, ‘Would you like to see my nasty pad as proof?’ but I wasn’t that far gone yet.)

We were frustrated and ready to walk by this point.

They decided to get the Dr’s input.  He says give me the x-rays.  (I liked him before I ever met him.)

They take digital x-rays and pictures of every “tooth” in my mouth.  Gal says, “yes, you do need help.”  (duh, ya think?  hee hee)

At this point, we’re much more impressed.  Seriously, they were amazing.  All of the staff knew their business.  Everyone wanted to know my history (figure out why my teeth are so bad)  They all said, “Well, 18 months of antibiotics from birth alone will do this.”

The dentist walked in.  Took one look at the x-rays, my mouth, back at the x-rays, asked my history, looked one more time and said,

“Definitely need to get those teeth out of there.”


I said, “That’s what I want.”

He says, “You do?”  (Relief on his face)

I said, “I’ve wanted them for years.”

He tells me the downside.  He tells me that it’ll take time getting used to them.  He tells me the process.  Basically, they make a mold of your mouth, make the dentures, extract the teeth, shove the dentures in place all while you’re under general anesthesia, and then voila!  You wake up with a very painful mouth and new set of teeth.  Six to eight months later, after any and all adjustments that you want, they make an even better set of dentures that has taken gum shrinkage etc into account.

He calls to the other gal and tells her to get molds, tells the other gal to get xyz together, and looks at me.  “Let’s get the broken ones out.”

They left the room, Kevin and I looked at each other in a bit of shock… and I said… “Let’s do it.”

So, I came home with eight fewer teeth… next Friday they’re doing a wax thing (I’m saying I’m getting a ‘wax job’) to double check alignment stuff… July 21 they’re removing the rest of my teeth and putting in the dentures the moment those teeth are out.

6-8 months later, I’ll be getting a “better” denture that is adjusted to any changes my mouth wanted.

Before he pulled out my teeth he looked at the palate again and said, “You’re going to have a really good suction there.  You’ve got an advantage over a lot of people.”

This is opposite what we’d been told and his reasoning makes so much more sense.  The other dentists didn’t want to even consider dentures.  Either they let that cloud their judgment or they lied to me.  Either way, this guy is certain I can support the dentures and that after I learn to use them, I’ll be satisfied with them as long as I am willing to put the work into learning to use my new “prosthetic”.

I’m good with that.

So, I get new teeth for my birthday this year to the tune of $8,000 dollars.  I am praising the Lord for insurance or it’d be more like $14,000


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