Tag Archives: dental reconstruction

Being (a) Patient: Heartbroken

Sometimes, when you are being put back together things don’t go the way you want or expect them to.  You believe you are going to make a giant step forward and are disappointed and pushed backward.  Such was the case with me yesterday.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t get what I expected and what I did get was unacceptable to me.  I feel like I have a cough drop stuck to the back of my front teeth that never dissolves.  It feels horrible.  I have no comfortable place to put my tongue.  I don’t like the way it looks either.  I am also lisping worse than I was with two teeth missing.  The good news is that it is only temporary.  The painfully frustrating part is I need to find a new prosthodontist.

 

In the meanwhile, I will regroup and hang with my favorite wellness practitioner, Chauncy.  No matter how hard life gets sometimes, Chauncy always make me feel grateful!

Chauncy always gives me a reason to be grateful!

Dr. Chauncy to the rescue!

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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Being (a) Patient: Bye Bye Flipper

I am very grateful to have had my flipper for the last two years and four months (and the essex bridge for two months before that.).  Although it wasn’t fun tasting plastic all day, it definitely beat missing two front teeth.  I will be wearing it for the last time this morning because I am happy to share that by this evening, I will no longer need it!!!  I am getting two temporary crowns on my implants today.  Hooray!

Farewell my beat-up, well-used and discolored flipper!  Today, you will be granted an honorable discharge.  Your service has come to the end.  Thank you!

 

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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Being (a) Patient: Tough Decisions and Temporary Solutions

I have avoided writing this blog post for almost five months. I actually did write one back in June; when I first found out I can’t yet afford to finish my dental reconstruction. The shame and frustration of admitting that reality were so raw I couldn’t bring myself to post it at the time.

Since then I have tried to save enough to get to the point where I could put most of the money down to get the eight crowns and two posts I need but I am not quite there yet. I have enough money to start the work but the large payments I would have to make in the months following, make me uneasy because I would essentially be eating Ramen noodles the whole time and living in terror of ANYthing that might go wrong.

If I have learned anything from this situation (actually…I’ve learned a lot,) unexpected things happen. As much as I would like to stick my head in the sand right now and throw all my money and credit cards at my prosthodontist and be done with this trial, it’s not financially responsible and there is no way I can justify it. Besides, I am way too into healthy eating to survive on processed, freeze-dried noodles!

I am, however, impatient to make some progress. I want all my teeth to stay in 24/7. I also want to break bread with other people. I haven’t shared a meal with another human being in over two and a half years.  (It can be kind of gross when you are missing two front teeth and have braces.) I want back those things that I took for granted before but now I won’t. I would be grateful to have that kind of functionality back.

I asked my prosthodontist last week if we could at least do temporary crowns on the two implants and bond my two worst teeth. He went to work, taking measurements and an initial mold. When I called yesterday, his office manager told me they need me to come back next week for more measurements because, “he is trying to get [me] the best deal on parts.” (Kind of makes me sound like a car, doesn’t it?)

I still don’t know how much this temporary solution is going to cost. Hopefully, it is feasible. The temps will have to be redone when I get all eight crowns. So, I already know that it will end up adding to my total cost in the long run but it will be worth it. I just can’t endure another year in braces and a plastic flipper! I really need to get out of limbo. Being able to share a meal with loved ones and smile without being self-conscious will be priceless! Sometimes, progress is more important than perfection.

Many Blessings,

Cynthia

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Being (a) Patient: Patience Rewarded

Today- two years, one month and eight days after I fell, I reached a milestone in my dental reconstruction.  My dental implants have been implanted and my periodontist said they look beautiful!  I saw the x-ray and I have to agree (even though the local is wearing off and my mouth is throbbing with pain.  Don’t worry; I can handle it!)

Have I mentioned my periodontist before?  I had consults with six different periodontists.  SIX!  Only two felt confident that they could do what I wanted.  I wanted all separate teeth, to keep my own teeth and to avoid pink porcelain.  It seems reasonable enough, right?  It would have been if I hadn’t lost bone in my upper jaw when my right front tooth was knocked out.

The first periodontist I went to, tried to tell me my only option was an eight tooth bridge.  After I finished crying, I set out to find someone who could give me what I needed and I did find him.  Although, there are never any guarantees when bone grafts are involved, my periodontist believed it would be possible to restore the missing bone enough to place two side-by-side implants, giving me the separate teeth I wanted.  He delivered on that today.

It’s been a loooooong process.  I had to have a tooth super-erupted through orthodontics.  That took around six months.  Then I received a socket graft. That needed to heal for three months.  I had to have a frenectomy.  That needed to heal for about six weeks. Then I had the BIG bone graft!  That healed for six months.  Today, I took a giant leap forward toward having a beautiful smile again!

Whether I am able to dodge the  pink porcelain remains to be seen.  So far though, so good!  I’m so grateful!

Many blessings to all,

Cynthia

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Being (a) Patient: Progress Isn’t Always Pretty!

Five days from now,  I will go to my uber-talented prosthodontic clinician who will once again rebuild my much abused flipper.

What’s a flipper?  A flipper is a dental prosthesis that simulates teeth that are missing.  It’s used by damaged people like me and pint-sized beauty queens  who are in between their baby teeth and adult teeth.

I have not been able to wear my flipper for over a month, due to a complication with the augmentation bone graft, I had done in  September to restore the bone I lost when I fell.  Originally, my periodontist cut my flipper back to keep it away from the graft.  However, it was still cutting off the circulation to my gum.  So, I had to lose it to ensure the best possible result.

I have mixed feelings about wearing it again.  Physically, I am more comfortable without it.  It tastes like plastic.  It presses against my gum and hard palate all day.  It makes me gag.  It make me cough.  It makes me angry.  It reminds me to hold the handrail on stairs.  Emotionally though, it makes me feel safe.  It makes me feel like maybe people will think I just have adult braces.  It makes me feel less… vulnerable.  I don’t like to feel vulnerable.

I keep my top lip pulled down when talking to people.  When I laugh or even smile, my hand flies up to cover the gap left behind by my two missing front teeth.  I’ve realized since this has happened that a toothy grin can compensate for more than just physical insecurities though.  When you can’t flash a smile, tilt your head and toss your hair, your personality flaws become glaringly obvious.  When it comes to conversation, I’m not an artist.

I think, perhaps, writers are writers because it gives us a chance to express what we would have liked to have said in any given moment, if only we could have thought of it at the time.  If only…

I am determined to learn from this experience and be better for having gone through it.  I don’t know exactly what that looks like yet.  Habits form over decades; not all at once.  Change doesn’t happen all at once.  I hope that by the time this is all over that I can look back and see that I have taken one step at a time in the right direction.

Love and Many blessings to All,

Cynthia

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Being (A) Patient: The Next Step in My Dental Reconstruction

Tomorrow, I go to three of my dentists.  (I know, you must be so jealous!)  The next step in my dental reconstruction is demolition.  My lateral incisor (tooth next to the right front tooth…) is being extracted.  I have mixed feelings about this as you might imagine.

Of course, it’s nice to be making progress.  Every procedure puts me one step closer to a complete smile.  On the other hand, losing another tooth is a bummer.

I fought hard to keep my teeth after I fell.  Had the residents at the hospitals had their way, I ‘d be sporting plates and screws in my upper jaw and most of my front top teeth would have been… I can’t even write it.  Thankfully, my oral surgeon saved them all.  My lateral incisor though, every clinician agreed had to go.  Before it went though, it was put to work.  For the last eight months, my orthodontist has been slowly pulling it down with my braces.  The procedure is called a super eruption.  The tooth is helping to draw down bone, as it is slowly pulled out.  Any millimeters of bone growth I can gain will really help, as I am told it is difficult to grow vertical bone from a graft.

After my lateral is excised tomorrow, my periodontist will put in a socket graft.  Once that heals, I’ll be ready for the big one: ridge augmentation.  My perio will graft in the area where I lost jaw bone above where my right front tooth was knocked out.

I’m grateful to be moving forward.  And I’m grateful to this tooth.  I am also a little nervous.  I am hoping this is the end of the losses.  And things just get better and better from here.

Love and Blessings to All,

Cynthia

 

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A Year after Super Storm Sandy: Challenges, Tumbles and Surviving It All with Gratitude!

A year ago when all the hubbub started about Hurricane Sandy, like so many people in the area where I lived on the water in Amity Harbor, I didn’t take it very seriously.  Although, I lived on a canal, the warnings that were being issued seemed extreme. I had stayed home through Hurricane Irene the year before without the water even coming up my back steps.  So, in my mind, Sandy would probably only be slightly worse.

Chauncy and I hunkered down on October 29, 2012 with every intention of waiting it out.  And for most of the day, it appeared I had taken the right course.  Then around 7pm, things changed radically.  I waded through knee high water to move my car to higher ground.  Forty minutes later when I finally left with my dog and one bag that same water was up to my thighs and had begun pouring into my home from every conceivable point of entry including the sinks and toilet.

I was oddly pretty calm for someone driving around in the midst of a hurricane.  I picked up a stranded driver who was soaked to bone.  He warned me not to go west on Merrick Road because that was where his truck got stranded.  I deposited him at the pizza place where the emergency workers were staying.  I couldn’t stay there with Chauncy.  So, I had to move on.  (There are very few safe public places during catastrophes on Long Island for people with dogs.)

Chauncy was freaking out as we weaved around fallen trees on Sunrise Highway.  He kept trying to crawl inside me practically.  So, I eventually threw an entire bag of treats on the passenger seat to distract him.  First, we tried going west to my folks, and made it about 10 miles before the road was blocked off.  So, I turned around drove further East than where I started and ended up at a friend’s house in Bayshore.  Thankfully, her family was willing to take us both in.

The next day I went to my folks’ house and have been here since.  I thought by now I would be in my new apartment with Hurricane Sandy fading into an increasingly distant memory but a short five months later, I experienced an event that made Super Storm Sandy feel like a mere inconvenience.  On March 2nd, the day after I launched this blog, I fell down the stairs at the Madison Square Garden Entrance to Penn Station. I broke my upper jaw, lost a front tooth, damaged seven more top front teeth, ripped my upper lip completely through, sprained my wrist and broke my nose.

Given the opportunity to take that moment back and hold the handrail, I most certainly would take the mulligan.  I won’t have anything close to my smile back before 2015 (…and we are talking closer to 2016.)  However, several people have told me I would find the blessings in these events and they were right.  When something like this happens, at first you just want to crawl into a hole and disappear.  You wonder what you might have done to deserve such a shitty, fucking thing to happen to you … and in my case two shitty things in row.  You wonder, “is this going to be what breaks me?”  Then a little voice deep inside answers very confidently, “no, it’s going to make you stronger than you have ever been.”  Then you pick your head up and start noticing all the things you have to be grateful for like your family, your friends, your dog, the perfect strangers (who turned out to be paramedics) who stopped to help when you fell, all the flowers, cards, prayers, well wishes and good, competent doctors to help put you back together.  There is so much I have to be grateful for, I couldn’t possibly fit it all into this one blog post.  That is how fortunate I am!

There is one other thing I want to share with you and then I’ll wrap it up!  That is the lesson.  The most profound shift I have experienced since all of this happened is what I thought mattered before… most of it… doesn’t matter at all.  I used to sweat everything: my boss yelling at me, getting a ticket, a friend being distant, paying bills… any little negative thing could tip my mood.  The worse thing on my mind before I fell was that my car had a leaky head gasket.  It seems so silly now ruminating about how I was going to find a new apartment, furnish it and get a new car at the same time.  I thought THAT was something to feel sorry for myself about.  Now, I am looking at a $30K-$40K dental reconstruction.  It’s okay though because getting my smile back to me is priceless!

Love and blessings to all.

Cynthia

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Being (a) Patient: A Moment of Gratitude

When you have been through as many dental consults as I have (six periodontal, four prosthodontic and two orthodontic) and several months of procedures with an oral surgeon, you can get pretty tired of going to dentists’ offices, especially when the actual dental reconstruction work hasn’t started yet.  It begins to feel endless before you even begin.  Then the blessing comes.

I had to have my broken bicuspid bonded in order to be able to have a brace put on it.  The entire front was missing. I am going to be in braces for over a year. So my prostho didn’t want to put a temporary crown on it for that long.  When he said he was going to bond it, I figured it would like a patch, similar to the blob of bonding material my oral surgeon put behind another tooth to save it.

So, you can imagine my surprise when he molded it to look like an actual tooth…  not just a tooth either, MY TOOTH.  I could barely talk when his assistant put the before and after photo up on the monitor. It looked like it had never been broken… like nothing at all had happened to it.  It looked perfect!

I know it’s just one tooth and a temporary solution at that.  I still have a looooooong way to go in this dental reconstruction but it’s hard to express how it good it felt to have that first little step be so beautiful!  I felt a little bit more like myself than I have in a long time.  Even with my appliance in, I felt uncomfortable smiling wide because I knew my broken tooth would still show.  Thursday night, I wore the widest, brightest (had a cleaning too) smile that I have had in almost six months when I showed his work to my family.

I knew the prosthodontist I had chosen was an artist.  …I can always spot one a mile away.  I wasn’t worried about whether he could do the work but it is awfully nice to see proof that I was right in my own mouth!

What was your big moment of gratitude this week?

Love and blessings to all.

Cynthia

 

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Naturally Beautiful: What does it mean?

This one is not so easy for me…

A week or so ago a video of Dustin Hoffmann went viral in which he described his experience of being perceived as a woman while prepping for his role in Tootsie.  It was very moving because he broke down when he realized that he couldn’t look as beautiful as he wanted to.  He realized that, as a woman, he would be passed over based on his appearance, despite being an interesting and worthwhile person in so many ways.  He realized that he, himself, had done that to many women who did not meet his physical requirements of beauty.

I found this particularly moving because I‘ve been struggling somewhat with my appearance since my top eight front teeth were damaged in March.  A friend of mine inquired about my “love life” recently, I sort of snorted and replied, “Hahahhaha, it would take a very special or very un-special man to look past my banged up grill.”

The funny part about all this is I am not a fussy gal.  Before this happened, you were just as likely to see me in sweats and no make-up, as you were to see me done up.  I’ve never been a perfect specimen but I was pretty and had learned over the years that I cleaned up well when I wanted to.  I just didn’t worry about it.  Now I do.  I am much more careful about putting myself together because I don’t feel like myself without my smile.  I wear a decent appliance that covers my missing front tooth but when I start to smile, I can feel my top lip getting close to the top edge of the device and I quickly yank it back down.  It really sucks being this self-conscious all the time.  And before I had the appliance, I did notice a difference in the way people reacted toward me.

I do know one special guy who never makes me feel self-conscious about the way I look, my dad.  A few weeks ago, he had to have a tooth pulled.  My dad is a handsome guy but he had a completely different attitude about it.  He made pirate noises and seemed to get a kick out of flashing his space at my mother.  He started referring to himself as Big Gap and me as Little Gap.  “You call that a gap, Cindy.  That’s not a gap.  This is a real gap!” He even convinced me to take this photo.  No small feat.  It is the first one since I fell.

Big Gap and Little Gap

I am not sure I can be as laid-back about my damaged teeth as Dad is, but this dental reconstruction is going to be a long haul and the final result is not guaranteed.  Soon I will have to wear braces for the first time in my life.  So, I realize it would be a good idea to figure how to handle the situation with grace and humor.  Maybe that is the most natural beauty you can acquire.  I haven’t got it all figured out yet but I am so grateful that I have Dad to light the way for me.

Love and blessings to all,

Cynthia

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