Ryan’s Story of Success Over Gum Disease

Gum disease wipes the smiles of those above 30. Here’s my story of dental loss and recovery.

If I was to give you the very short version of the story, I would simply point to this report in the News Medical Net on how one in two adults over the age of 30 have gum disease. Don’t miss the part where the President of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) states that with the proper treatment and care from a periodontist, periodontal disease is often reversible. Of course, this is followed by the full-mouth periodontal evaluation to assess for disease. Which is good advice except that I did nothing of that sort for years. Then one day in my 39th year, lightning struck.

Ignorance is Bliss Until…

It wasn’t exactly a single bolt of lightning but more like a week of thunderstorms in my mouth. When I was a kid, I remember the priest ask us in the congregation once why, despite the presence of God, there were still sinners in the world. He went on to point out that in a similar fashion, there was so much soap in the world but still people were dirty. We laughed because we had good teeth but now I can’t help but feeling that the same analogy applies to dental care or oral hygiene.

Despite the constant harping on the importance of brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, mouthwash, etc, it is hard to take something so basic that we learned in our childhood and neglect it, but we all do. Too often, you and I will skip the brushing of the teeth before tucking into bed because it was too cold, you didn’t want to miss the movie on the TV or felt to darned tired or lazy to perform a good habit.

So there I was, a 39-year old male, otherwise in good health until it came. The pain that wouldn’t go away and I found myself being introduced to the good denizens of my jawbone. Their names were Tooth#7 and #8, they residing in the front, and were under attack by cyst, bone and gum disease, as told to me by Dr. Gary Horblitt from Revitalizing Smiles.

Implants to Impressions

Unfortunately, I had delayed my little trip to the dentist too late and Tooth#7 and #8 had to be removed. A removable temporary was made and put in the place of the extracted teeth. Funny thing about teeth is that they are like apples, one bad one takes those around it down as well and Tooth #9 had a badly-fitting crown that was choking my gums and adding to the problem.

During the extraction of #7 and #8, the bone loss around #7 was so far gone that I needed bone grafting. While the graft site healed, I mulled over the chances of my missing teeth killing my job prospects as described in this article on the American College of Prosthodontists. My fears were groundless as I was given a removable device while my graft healed. I got so used to my snug removable that I kept it on until the integration stage of implant surgery was over.

Once healed, the first stage of implant surgery could actually begin and two implants were placed where the rotting, diseased Tooth#7 and #8 used to be. These implants were new and ready to receive the new avatars of my two missing front teeth. While the implants integrated with the bone, custom crowns were made for the implants. Tooth #9 who was not to be forgotten had the bad crown removed and got a new custom crown as well.

In the second stage of implant surgery, abutments were put in place and final impressions were made of all my front teeth. Front teeth are notoriously difficult to match but these were a perfect match and fit. With the gum disease in my past some carefully added gum tone porcelain and the new crowns made me laugh again, literally. Laughing in delight at the way I look, better than before, to be perfectly honest, thanks to the implant supported crowns on #7and #8 and my tooth-supported crown on tooth #9. You bet I take care of my teeth since I have learned the hard way that prevention is better than cure. There’s no way I will ever miss my six-monthly oral hygiene appointments.

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