Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dental Woes


So, this post is kind of embarrassing for me.

It involves HYGIENE.

But I'm posting it... this here is my life, you see.

All six billion {or so} people on earth are gifted and cursed with certain genetics, right? Being an Erickson, with our mix of Swedish/German/Scots-Irish heritage, I have enjoyed zit-free teen years, long eyelashes, and a pretty good level of fertility {"first try" babies abound in my family.}

But we all know, everyone has their genetic perks, their own unique combination of SCORE! genes. At the same time, we all have our "bad" genes.

For us Ericksons, the worst genetic offenders seem to be a prevalence to type 1 diabetes, weak joints, thin hair, and....

BAD TEETH.

We have bad teeth in my family, most of us do, anyway. As my old dentist put it, we tend to have weak enamel and are prone to caries.

I am happy to report that TODAY I had a cleaning at the dentist's office. And I was cavity free for, like, the first time EVER!

Unfortunately, that's only because in the last few months I've had many, many appointments for restorative dental procedures.

I'm sad to say, it had been about X number of years since I've been to the dentist. I know, right!? X YEARS?! It was awful. You grow up and mom stops making your appointments for you {rightfully so, since you're a married adult now} and you just stop prioritizing dental appointments. It happens. The stupid thing is I'm not even scared of the dentist. My mother raised me to have an irrational fear of spiders, yes, but she also taught me not to fear medical procedures. And especially now, after having about 2 million shots of lidocane in the last couple months and enduring a good 20 some hours in the chair with the drill running, I say to dental shots and drills: BRING IT! I'm not scared of you!

My best friend recently went to her first appointment in the same X number of years... and she had ZERO decay. She's NEVER had a cavity. Not ONE.

In.
Her.
LIFE.

Now, I have to beg you to believe me when I tell you--I haven't always taken stellar care of my teeth, but I've always brushed day & night. Always. I grew up with the benefit of being under my father's union insurance which covered everything but the gas money used to get to the dentist practically, and so my teeth were always tended to--regular dentist appointments, prompt fillings for any cavities, braces, proper wisdom teeth removal. Still, despite our best efforts we just lack quality when it comes to our chompers. {My sister, however, seems to be the only one who has dodged this genetic marker of doom to the dental chair.}

So how bad, you ask?
Let's just say, when I first learned what work I'd need done, I told Justin in tears. "Just call me Swiss-cheese-mouth!"
I went to the dentist for the first time in X years a few months ago, and I was finally driven there because of two broken teeth. Both breaks happened during my pregnancies {pregnancy is known to be a time when the pH balance in your mouth is off and women are more prone to decay--as if I didn't have it bad enough already...}

Finally, in fear of losing my teeth due to breaks and having them disinigrate, I headed to the dentist. Finally. We have insurance and everything {not that it covers much}, so why did I put if off so long??? Because I didn't want to face the music...

I'll just come out and say it...

X crowns
X root canals
3 trips to the endodotist
and X+ fillings later....

TODAY I have a decay-free, restored smile. I was lucky that I didn't lose any teeth.

Justin replied, "Just think, when you're all done with treatment we can call you Money Mouth!"

Wow. I know! That's a LOT of work. And I'll admit, when I first went for a consult and found out how bad it was and how much it would cost, I cried that day. But by the grace and goodness of God we were able to manage having my teeth "saved" {no pun intended.}

I have to say, I've been surprised at the way my confidence has improved with just a "little" dental work. A lot has changed in the X number of years I neglected dental appointments! They have digital x-rays now, who knew?! I also had all my metal fillings, all those dark silver spots on my molars replaced with nice white fillings {heheh, or crowns}. I can at least look at my teeth and pretend nothing ever  happened!

Today I went in just for a cleaning enjoying the first time in my life a cavity-less checkup. Like normal people get to do! In case you think I've just taken horrible care of my teeth, I have to tell you that the hygienist and my dentist have both said, "I can tell you take care of your teeth because there is very little plaque build up for X years without cleanings."

Here's the kicker: my husband went yesterday for a cleaning, now that we finally finished up my work, we braced ourselves for seeing what care he would need after also X years of no cleanings. And I love my husband, but I'm ratting him out: I have taken better care of my teeth than he has. His cleaning even took an hour longer than mine.

So what work does he need done, you ask?

Just a few fillings.

Ha! Must be nice...

{Actually, our bank account & I are VERY happy for him.}

I hope our kids get his teeth genes. He's a lucky man in my eyes.

So anyway, this month everyone has been sharing their daily thanks for certain things {as if we're just allowed to be thankful for ONE thing a day}, but today really has me thinking how thankful I am to have had this dental work done.

I found my new dentist through my in-laws, who recommended him, and he wins awards here in Colorado for being a great dentist. I recently saw the smile of the cashier at our grocery store, a young woman about my age with young children of her own. Her front teeth are decayed and blackened. I noticed this right after beginning my long list of treatments. I had been having a pity party for how bad my teeth were, but seeing this woman's blackened smile really smacked me in the face with a little bit of humility and gratefulness that I've been able to have my mouth fixed. Bitterness is always cured with a healthy dose of it-could-be-worse-so-count-your-blessings...

So I now carry mouthwash in a flask in my purse and floss at least twice daily.

Despite my genes working against me, I'm going overboard with the dental care now that I've been to the dark side and returned alive, so hopefully I'll still have a few teeth left when I'm 90...


...really praying my girls got their daddy's teeth...

5 comments:

  1. I kept thinking, why does sister look different in these pictures (besides the money in her mouth)? And I realized: it's because you're smiling with your TEETH! You look be-yoo-tiful!

    Fact check: I have eight fillings and need three more. Also stress fractures and receding gums. Would you call that "dodged"?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awww, thanks Bea!

    Though, after 3 root canals, 5 crowns & 10+ fillings--yeah, I'd call that "dodged".

    ReplyDelete
  3. Heather,
    I have always thought that you had a lovely smile, I would NEVER have guessed. I had horrible, mutant teeth all through middle school and the first years of high school. I still sometimes cover my mouth when I smile.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am just glad your teeth got "saved". I would hate to have to spent eternity with you with no teeth :)

    And I love my new white fillings too. It is such a nice feeling to have your teeth coordinate!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Having no cavities is definitely the news everyone would love to hear from their dentist. Not just to save money from treatments, but as a reward for taking care of their teeth all this time. Keep up the great work!

    Eugenie Velasquez @ Wynnewood Dental Arts

    ReplyDelete

What do you have to say for yourself?

Blogging tips