Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Don't you think 7-Eleven stores should be giving away free Big Gulps today?

My big gulp was yesterday. I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I needed upper dentures, and yesterday was extraction day. Quite possibly THE most traumatic experience I've ever gone through.

Nobody ever talks about having their teeth pulled. IT IS NOT PLEASANT. I'm not sure I even can talk about it. What I can talk about is the feelings I've had since the decision was made.

I feel guilty for not taking better care of my natural teeth. I thought I was taking good care of them, but really? I was trying to make them look good. I got braces on my upper teeth when I was 29, which involved two extractions I don't even remember and then a couple years of smashing my teeth together and moving them back to correct an overbite. Upon removal of the wires, I could no more slip a piece of dental floss between them than I could walk on water.

Over the years I've visited periodontists regularly, and had the painful-and-slightly-less-traumatic-than-an-extraction scaling and root planing procedure done several times. I've had my front teeth – the ones you use when you smile – replaced by a bridge, after years of trying to save them. (And those extractions were only slightly less traumatic than yesterday's.)

I feel ugly this morning. I'm not ugly, and I know that, but all the images of toothless old women are naturally going to be conjured up after you have your teeth pulled. (Do a Google image search and you'll see what I mean.) No way am I going to smile or laugh, and it's difficult to speak clearly. You need teeth to form the "f" and "v" sounds, while "s" and "x" sound like hisses. My husband will probably enjoy the sound of silence for the next couple of weeks.

I feel regret. As a recovering alcoholic, we learn we will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it. But, still … I regret this years-later consequence of my alcoholism. In my 21-plus years of sobriety, I've known plenty of people who've dealt with dental problems. Long-term alcohol abuse and poor dental hygiene tend to go hand-in-hand. Or mouth-to-mouth, if you will. My own sponsor had implants; I should have seen this coming years ago and started saving for them myself.

I'm not, however, a good candidate for implants, because on top of these contributing factors is hereditary bone loss. I've been moving toward this day since I was born. My parents, my maternal grandparents and my siblings all had dentures when they were much younger than I am now. My dentist was astonished that I've kept my natural teeth this long. He reassured me that I've been doing everything right, and after examining my lower teeth he even complimented me on my good hygiene practices.

I know I'll feel better in a month or so, both physically and emotionally. I'd love to be loud and proud about not having upper teeth (as some of the inmates I've met are, bless their hearts), but that's just not going to happen. Instead, I'll be quiet and regretful. And maybe even lose some weight! I'm not sure whether I should write The Denture Diet or The White Diet. Yesterday's menu consisted of vanilla ice cream and cottage cheese.

That electrical outage came at the perfect time, now that I think about it. The only meat left in the freezer would have been inedible for me – T-bones and porterhouse steaks, a pork tenderloin, chicken. It's all in the landfill now.

And I'm having oatmeal for breakfast.

P.S. If you're a Facebook friend, you can ignore the dated posts I'll be publishing today. I want to make sure all my photo-a-day pictures end up on the blog. Please indulge and forgive the coming onslaught!

1 comment:

D said...

Mega empathy for you. I have a major dental phobia, and even thinking about dental procedures leads to anxiety. Please tell me you were under some kind of sedative while your teeth were pulled. Not just laughing gas, but knock-you-out kind of sedatives.