Pulling Teeth- Summer, Stress, and Oral Surgery

Considering my presence online has been sporadic at best this summer, a part of me feels it is necessary to fill everyone on why I took an extended break from writing.

I wish I could say I was on the white sandy beaches of Hawaii, or parasailing, or scuba diving. A series of panoramic photos of Europe on Facebook would have been nice, but I didn’t go overseas. I didn’t fill my time volunteering at soup kitchens, swimming, surfing, or relaxing in a hammock sipping a cool refreshing lemonade. What I did do was far more important than that, and this is some of that story.

Back in May, I made a huge decision to make positive life changes: Break up with my boyfriend of three years, move out of his parents’ house and get out of the country and into the city. I accomplished all of this, but not without a lot of hurdles.

Initially, I stayed with an artist friend of mine at his apartment. Visits with my kids meant keeping my ex-boyfriend around as our chauffeur. (I don’t drive because I can’t afford a car or the insurance to drive one.) A month later, I met up with a friend of mine, Mark, who was trying to get out of a shitty relationship. They both drank, but she was heading off to a sober house for sixth months so it gave him a chance to break away from the situation.

Together, along with his adorable (yet rambunctious) puppy, we stayed in a number of extended stay hotels and ordinary hotels. With a cute black lab-border collie mix in tow, many conversations with strangers complimenting Amy Winehouse (the dog) were had. In the meantime, without great Internet access, I put my writing on hold.

Long story short, my friend Mark was suffering from liver failure and although it probably would have made no difference, I regret he didn’t get into a hospital sooner. Because of the severity (0% chance of making it) of the liver damage, I learned in mid-July that it didn’t matter when he checked in. Perhaps, it was better he didn’t spend more than the 3 weeks he did in a hospital. Knowing Mark, he would have hated knowing he would die and have to stay confined to a bed as well.

On July 28, I lost one of my best friends. Yet, throughout the month of June he spent the majority of his time thinking of others and helping others. He worried his ex-girlfriend was entering into another non-effective round of rehab. He took Amy to visit the elderly at an assisted living home. He was adamant that I make appointments for a new pair of glasses and for my teeth.

I never show my teeth.  This photo is from 2005.

I never show my teeth. This photo is from 2005.

As I write this, I just took some Norco (hydrocodone/acetaminophen). I’m taking this narcotic because I just had five upper teeth pulled. At the relatively young age of 33, I have to get upper dentures. (I can’t afford the implants. Maybe one day I will.)

When I arrived at the dentist office, my favorite dentist (the one Mark said was awesome, and who was also Mark’s dentist) was not there and I had a replacement dentist. My favorite assistant, Dave, was there. He asked me if I knew there were a lot of sick people in this world. I could have went on a long tirade about AA at that point, but then he put on the TV and I was shocked to hear the Subway guy Jared was guilty of child porn charges and underage sex.

The shock didn’t end there. I must have heard my doctor, Adam (last name too difficult to even pronounce, so I don’t even try) wrong. First they extract the teeth, and then they make the impressions for the dentures. So far, the replacement dentist was not as skilled at calming me down as Adam is. Dave stops in and tells me to hang in there, we’ll get me smiling again, and I’ll save up and come back in for implants. He and Dr. Adam know I have PTSD and anxiety and Dr. Replacement does not. I feel no friendly connection with her, she seems unapproachable. Just there to get her work done and go home.

We agree to only pull half of the ten teeth I have left on top. The pushing and pressure on my skull felt as though my skull was going to get fractured in the process. Let alone, Dr. Replacement has turned on Law & Order SVU and the topic is a serial rapist and I’m experiencing some triggers. Not only did my rapist slam my jaw into a concrete porch, and because of him I became a felon, I partially blame having little to no dental care for over a decade on the condition I am currently in.

Those teeth have to be fake, this is computer generated I think.

Those teeth have to be fake, this is computer generated I think.

33 years old and getting dentures with tears streaming down the sides of my face, onto my ears, as I freak out every time I feel my skull will crack. My crying and verbal “ouches” are scaring Dr. Replacement. Dave isn’t my assistant, it is some guy who I can barely understand his English. They are doing their best with a very difficult patient, who is afraid they’ll mess up the procedure. I want Dr. Adam. I want Dave there. I want to scream.

One tooth pulled is not the end of the world, but five teeth pulled at once is a commitment. I can blame sugar and lack of brushing all I want, but most of this was caused from terrible teeth grinding. Anyone’s who had the displeasure of sleeping within close proximity of me, across a hall, or in the next room, knows my teeth grinding sounds like a zombie gnashing on a severed arm to the bone.

This is the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do, maybe scarier than giving birth. I realize a lot of people find it funny to make fun of people without teeth. Hillbillies. Trailer Park Trash. Meth Head. Crack Head. A guy missing a couple teeth has “character.” A girl missing some of her teeth is “disgusting.” Butter Teeth: As in, she is pretty, “butter” teeth are nasty.

These are not my teeth but this is an approximation of what I've been hiding every time I eat, talk, or have a photo taken of me.

These are not my teeth but this is an approximation of what I’ve been hiding every time I eat, talk, or have a photo taken of me.

I never smile with my teeth showing. I hated my teeth since my adult teeth came in. They were small, didn’t look right with my face, and made me feel like a freak. I welcome fake teeth. I welcome the idea of being able to smile, to laugh, to eat without worrying how I am chewing. To talk without worrying how I form each sound I make. I haven’t been able to do that for nearly ten years since my teeth started to chip and eventually those teeth started to decay.

I am not ashamed to tell everyone this if it helps someone else out there going through something similar. That is why I’m not depressed about the dental work, although I am anxious about getting used to wearing dentures. I found this video online, and even though it’s not me, I thought I’d share it here anyway.

Will keep you posted on my journey, but for now, I’m a little bit hungry and irritated I can’t nosh on something besides liquids and mushy stuff. Thanks for reading, and expect more writings since little toothless me will be home a lot more now.

(P.S. The woman who makes these denture videos did it for cosmetic reasons, which is not a real crazy idea.  Only my situation is not just for cosmetic purposes, I seriously never smile and can’t wait until I can again.)

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3 comments

  1. I had the same problem. I really thought the only way I’d ever smile again was if I got dentures. As it happened, a change in my state insurance allowed me to see a dentist who capped and crowned and filled all my teeth. I couldn’t pay for the country club dentist a few towns over. I didn’t get the nitrous, which makes the dentist down right pleasant by comparison believe me. I had a couple CPTSD episodes in the chair. The poor dentist is so nice and this one time I was shaking sitting there and I couldn’t control it, and he felt really bad because he thought I was afraid of him. I told him after that I had it so he shouldn’t feel so bad and it was not really him I was afraid of. Everything got fixed. Now I go regular every 6 months for cleanings just like other people. I almost cried you know when I looked at my teeth fixed. They had been a constant trigger for me. Congratulations. I know how good it feels.

    1. Thanks for writing this, although my top teeth are not repairable. I can in the future get implants where the front teeth are and that will be much better than a full upper denture. I can’t afford that now though. Since I already had some missing teeth here and there it just was time to get rid of them. I know I freaked out the dentist pulling the first teeth out, but my usual dentist knows about my CPTSD and he’s just much better than she was. No offense, I am just a real nervous patient because I’m thinking terrible things while sitting in that chair. I can’t wait to smile again.

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