The Dentally Challenged Blues
So, last week I had the first of two appointments with the endodontist, designed to retreat a failed root canal. Before the appointment, she asked why I looked so nervous, to which I responded “I’m not scared of the procedure, just of losing another tooth”. She smiled and calmly said, even if this fails we’re a long way off from extracting the tooth.
The treatment was deeply unpleasant. This was my fourth root canal, and the only one I’ve ever felt pain during. Not just pain, agonising, squirm-in-the-chair pain, to the point of having to be physically restrained by the assisting nurse when it became unbearable.
After the procedure she looked at me grimly and proceeded to inform me that there’s a hairline fracture in one of the roots which will probably necessitate extraction. “Normal wear and tear from bruxism”, she said flippantly. I have a temporary crown on and have to wait six weeks to see if the pain subsides. Five days later and it’s showing no signs of going away so it seems a lot of the pain I’ve been suffering with was from the fracture and not an infection.
I’ve been assured by three different dentists that I “definitely won’t need to lose more teeth”. Christ, three months ago I was told I could go ahead with braces and get the half-decent smile that I’d dreamed of, but that’s out of the window now too. If there’s one thing I hate it’s being lied to. The false hope I’ve been fed has created such an emotional roller-coaster over the last year that I feel a little like I’m going mad.
Add to that, that the new filling I got weeks ago still hasn’t settled down after the third attempt and that the other root canal is causing more pain than ever and I just don’t know what to think any longer.
I’ve had such bad luck, and literally pissed away so much money that why should I even assume dental implants would be successful?! And since my dentist won’t make me a partial denture that might compromise my healthy teeth, that leaves me with only one option; to go without any back teeth.
This troubles me for a few reasons. Firstly, my eating habits have already been compromised since I lost the first three molars around seven years ago. The second is that while I’m clenching my teeth, the fewer teeth I have means that they’re under the strain of pressure that should be absorbed by a full set of 28 chompers. There’s no positive outcome there. The third being that it will destroy any confidence I have left and lead to me never leaving the house.
My friends and partner have been so supportive but it still remains a lonely process. People keep telling me that things will be ok, but no-one really knows. I don’t know anyone who has been through the same ordeal, no-one who’s had the same set of ludicrously unlucky events, and it’s isolating and terrifying.
I go through moments of thinking that once the teeth are out, I’ll feel relief. Once the pain is gone things will settle down. But I don’t believe that. There’s no end in sight for all of this. I feel impotent and full of anger about this series of events that just seems to get worse with each passing day, and is beyond my control.
I’ve altered the way I speak to hide my teeth and I try my best to always be on my guard and never smile. It’s miserable. I don’t know anyone who has fake teeth, apart from my Dad who appears to be in a very tiny minority of people who don’t hate their dentures, and my Mum who’s in the vast majority of people who do hate them. I haven’t found anyone to talk to about the specifics which just makes me feel like more of a freak, like I’m in this on my own.
They’re not “just teeth”, they’re a physical part of me. A part of me I was supposed to have for a lot longer. One thing that remains constant is that I’m just not emotionally ready to lose them and to adapt to a new way of life so I don’t know where to go from here.