Sunday, September 27, 2009

Secrets and Shame

I've long been a believer that if you're ashamed of something, the best way to work through it is to tell someone else.

I have something that I'm ashamed of. I'm going to tell you what it is.

It's my teeth. More specifically, my front upper incisors and lateral incisors.

They're discolored and chipped, and now they're slightly loose. The right lateral incisor is a crown that keeps falling out. When the airbag (I had a major MVA a few years ago and am still trying to fix what I broke) hit me in the face, it knocked some of the teeth loose and apparently I was mistaken in thinking they were healed. It's come back to bite me in the ass now.

I have to have some extractions. The front incisors are dead, which causes them to be discolored and fragile. The loose root has affected the crown, which is why it keeps coming out. I have to have a surgical removal of the root, as well as the front incisors extracted. I'm going to have cadaveric bone grafts in the sockets to create some good, healthy bone structure there. I can't have implants right now because of the bone issue (money plays a big part of it too, I don't have $6000 to drop on my teeth) and crowns aren't an option because of the roots, so I'm getting a partial denture.

I'm getting a denture. There, I said it. I'm getting a partial denture.

It's not going to be permanent, I'll get implants eventually, but I'll have a partial denture for a while.

I don't know if you're noticed, but none of the photos I've posted of myself show my teeth. I have this enigmatic smirk in all of them – it's not because I'm trying to be coy, it's because the discoloration is really noticeable in photos and I'm embarrassed.

I've been waking up at night, freaking out over losing these teeth. I know that I don't HAVE to have it done; I can leave them alone and let them fall out on their own or break and walk around looking like a jack-o-lantern or a hillbilly for a while before I end up having a partial anyway….I know this is the right decision, but it's a tough one for me to take. I mean, I'm only 40. I'm not supposed to be a toothless crone just yet.

The partial is what they call "immediate placement". That means that I take the partial to the oral surgeon, he extracts the teeth and then places the partial immediately in my mouth. I have to keep it in constantly for a few days; the pressure helps with the swelling and bleeding. I'll have stitches in my gums; the crown root is going to necessitate an incision in my gum to get it out and the other teeth are so fragile that they could snap off and need to be surgically removed too. I'm not afraid of the pain, I know it's going to hurt but I also know it won't be as bad as some of the surgeries I've had. I'm not taking any time off school, either: I get out of class at 1100, have the surgery done at 1300 (with the help of a little nitrous oxide and copious amounts of lidocaine) and go back to school at 0900 the next day. I figure my face will be swollen and I'll be on pain medications so The Hubs will have to drive me, but I'm determined to not miss any class time.

So, that's my secret, aired for the entire internet to see. Maybe I'll be confident enough to post photos of myself smiling after the swelling and bruising has gone down. Maybe I'll become a proud partial wearer and will give someone else the confidence to say 'yeah, I have a partial. So what?'

Maybe. Then again I could hate it and wish I'd never done it. I sure as heck hope it's the former.


D.a.r.r.a. said...

I'm fairly certain this is my first comment, but I have a complete upper denture and have had it since I was 23 (I'm 29). Nothing to be ashamed of :)

WeeJen said...

When my mum was pregnant with me, 26 years ago, the hormones did funny things to her and she lost all her teeth. She was 22! My siblings and I call her our GummyMummy and sing the GummyBears theme tune to her! :)

What I'm trying to say is the same as Darra, there's nothing to be ashamed of. :) It sounds like you've got the whole surgery thing sorted too. :)

Good Luck!