I was perusing my site stats, and noticed that a couple of times now people have stumbled onto my site with search terms about crowning all your teeth (or some derivative of that phrase).
So today I thought I’d talk about my upcoming dental work (and the past events that led to this point) to see if anyone else has had the same experience, or to help draw the path for anyone else who may also be in my position.
(Feel free to skip this entry if dental work squicks you out. I wouldn’t blame you at all.)
To begin, a little background information is necessary. I was born in Vancouver, and lived in Surrey until I was seven. When I was a baby, my paediatrician told my parents that there was no fluoride in the Surrey drinking water, so I’d need to be given supplements. This, as we found out later, was *not* true, so I was essentially getting a double-dose of fluoride for the first year of my life. That’s not good. An overdose of fluoride can lead to fluorosis, which is basically the weakening and discolouration of the enamel (the hard white stuff on your teeth).
In addition, every time I cut a tooth I would contract a wicked ear infection, the likes of which would require amoxicillin to clear up. This was every time I got a tooth. The combination of the fever and the antibiotics also may have served to weaken my tooth structure and enamel.
However, my current dentist and specialist think that I have a mild case of amelogenesis imperfecta, which is basically a congenital disease (I was born with it) that weakens my enamel.
This is all assumed information, however. There’s no real way to diagnose exactly what’s wrong with me, because there are just so many mitigating circumstances and factors that could have played a role. These are the most common explanations I’ve been offered, and I’m inclined to believe it’s a combination of them all with the amelogenesis imperfecta.
The combination of these factors means that when my adult teeth were in place, the enamel was not very strong and chipped almost constantly. Since the age of 13, I would say I’ve chipped at least one tooth per year, requiring a visit to the dentist for a filling. If I don’t get the filling right away, it often leads to decay and a more painful dentist visit. To date, I believe there are just two teeth in my mouth that have had no alterations whatsoever (I had a bonding agent applied to my front four teeth on the top and bottom to help me deal with the discolouration as a teenager. So while those teeth are not chipped, they’re also not free from tinkering).
Then there’s just some plain ol’ genetics at play here too.
I’m going to need braces to correct an open bite. My jaw grew straight down instead of down and out, so my teeth only have 4-5 contact points. This means that biting into something like a sandwich is a lot more difficult for me, because my front teeth don’t meet and help to cleanly bite the food. Anything with lettuce in it is interesting for me, because more often than not it just falls out of my food/mouth because I can’t sever something so thin. Because of this, the back four teeth have worked harder than the rest of my teeth to chew my food; I currently have nine crowns that, if not applied when they were at age 17, have saved my teeth from wearing down to nothing. These also need to be replaced.
So the plan is this:
Next year, I’ll be getting braces put on my teeth. I also don’t think I have the option of using the plastic brackets to reduce how noticeable they are; full metal all the way. I’ll also have two teeth on the bottom extracted, to match the two on the top that were pulled when I was ten (an issue with overcrowding. Often the case with an open bite). Braces will be worn for 2+ years, and then I’ll be having surgery on my plate and there’s a 50/50 chance that my jaw will be included as well. I’ll have to meet with the surgeon to know for sure.
After that, I’ll be wearing the braces for one more year, and then once they’re removed I’ll have the rest of my teeth crowned to ensure they will not chip and wear down.
The total timeline is 3-4 years, and the cost is something I don’t want to calculate just yet.
Luckily for me, my new dental plan covered 50% of my major and orthodontic dentistry, so I won’t have to foot the entire bill myself. There’s also a plan in Alberta that may help me with the costs, as I have both a congenital disease and the need for surgical intervention.
But, that’s my story! I’m nervous and I’m scared about all the pain that comes with this plan, and I’m really not looking forward to dealing with the emotional side of things either (my self-esteem isn’t exactly soaring, and putting a mouth full of metal into the picture is not helping things). But it’s the right thing to do, and once I’ve finished this process I’ll have a smile that will last the rest of my life.