10 August 2014

23 : Sugar is Bad - Something Old

Trying to Keep My Teeth

Unbelievably three weeks to the day after my first tooth was removed, due to decay and breakage, I broke another! At least with the first tooth I knew that it was inevitable; after all a huge chunk had broken off over 12 months before I suffered the pain of infection and decay of one of the remaining nerves. It took me a long time to come to terms with that loss. I was unprepared to lose another tooth, especially in such a spectacular fashion!

Truth be known I was eating a lolly at a child's birthday party when it happened. Yes, yes I know sugar decays teeth. However, it shouldn't really break off two/thirds of the tooth after one bite of a soft lolly!  A lolly that I quickly realised wasn't that soft after all; it suddenly was very crunchy with chunks of tooth I had spent a life time carefully growing! Gone, in an instant. The shard remains looked grim, both from what I could see in the mirror and what I could feel with my tongue. The darkened base looked suspiciously decayed and I knew its fate was sealed, I would lose this one too.

As all things like this seem to happen on a Friday night, I had to wait until Monday morning before the inevitable call to the dentist. I was kindly squeezed in that day where x rays revealed what I already knew; the tooth was gone. I was surprised that I wasn't in pain, but recalled I had recently been in pain there when my other tooth had been infected. I had put it down to referred pain and thought nothing more of it. The dentist told me that the nerve was actually exposed and was atrophied! I couldn't believe it, another one. Back to the periodontist I went. 

Surprised to see me, my periodontist was very kind and not at all condescending. He remembered me very well as my last tooth extraction was particularly difficult. Thankfully this time the tooth came out in a mere 5 minute extraction, beating the last by 40 minutes! Attached to the tooth, in one piece this time, was an abscess sac; the periodontist surmised that I actually must have a high pain tolerance. I had a really positive discussion with the periodontist and listened very carefully to his advice as to how to approach the care of my teeth from now on. After the last visit he had recommended I book in with my dentist for a full check up and organise all the fillings that were already needed for some small cavities. I now was armed with a plan of attack which was going to be another 4 visits to my dentist with two fillings booked for each visit. I had also already endured the dentist cleaning my teeth, not fun but necessary. He stressed the importance of attending to the remaining teeth first, before I spent hard earned money on new implants.

I will probably get the first implant now on this last tooth lost, tooth 44, as it is more visible than my molar. However, after losing that molar I realised how much help it had been with chewing and will definitely be going ahead with that implant too. Unfortunately none of these procedures come cheap, despite having private health insurance, and will have to be done in stages.

I have been recommended a strong flouride toothpaste from the pharmacy; also to ensure I drink more fluoridated water (not bottled) and to rinse my mouth after fizzy drinks and coffee. I learned that sugar-free carbonated drinks and fruit juice are still just as destructive to teeth as they are acidic, and the worse possible way of drinking them is sipping them slowly over a long period of time. Bingo! That's me in a nutshell. Even worse I skip brushing my teeth regularly due to shift work and fatigue, adding to the problem. I am also going to go back to chewing sugar-free gum, particularly at work after eating, which helps significantly increase saliva to reduce cavities. I may even have a go at flossing, although I can't commit to that one!

I have a long and expensive road ahead, but I am determined to not lose any more teeth than I have to. I just have to take this teeth thing seriously; when they start disappearing you suddenly realise that you lost your chance when you had it, and you don't get another.

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