I am so amazed to see how many people are going through the same thing I am. When I was sitting in the dentist chair a week ago, I thought I was surely the youngest person to hear "You need dentures" ... I'm 35.
It's kinda funny to read how similar my story is to so many others when I thought I was the "only one" going through this. I've been told quite a bit in my life that I'm a beautiful woman and that I still have a pretty smile. People only see very little of my smile b/c I am so ashamed to show what my teeth really look like. People see the bare minimum and that's about it. When I laugh, I always duck my head down or cover my mouth with my hand. Occasionally, I get lost in the moment and forget to cover my mouth - I feel myself almost go into panic mode hoping no one noticed the poor quality of my teeth.
So...here's my story: According to my current dentist, I am the perfect genetic disaster of my family tree. Both sides of my parent's family were 50/50 with bad and healthy teeth; some have the movie star smile, while some were in dentures by the time they were 20 (guess which side I fell on!). When I was a kid, my parents did not have dental insurance and could not afford to take my sister and me to the dentist. If I would've had proper dental care in my younger years, I may not be in the position I'm in now (but no one can guarantee that). My teeth have always been considered very weak and cavity prone. By the time I was 18, I had 9 of my back teeth extracted and Lord only knows how many fillings. Around this time, I still had beautiful front teeth and I LOVED to smile!!!! When I was 21 and in college, I started developing small cavities on the backside of my 2 front teeth...this seemed to start my downward spiral. My dentist filled those 2 teeth instead of capping them (due to cost) and that weakened them even more. When he put fillings in any of my top teeth, he would grind the tops of my bottom teeth so my bite would be proper. By the time I was 30, I had so much money invested in my mouth and antibiotics that it was ridiculous! In 2006, my dentist decided he wanted to cap my top/front 6 teeth: I had 5 root canals in one sitting ($3200), 4 posts inserted ($650) and 4 temporary caps ($600). I then needed to get my gum line raised, which was another $2000 and not covered by insurance. I held off on that surgery due to spending so much on the other stuff (and b/c the peridontist acted like I had contractible disease). Sadly, when I was ready to finish the work, the only guy who had faith in restoring my natural smile had passed away due to health reasons. I went to a few other dentists for help and no one would take on his work; I felt like an out-dated appliance that no one would work on. And, the dentists that I did go to for help, were all very rude to me and lowered my self-esteem like you wouldn't believe. I never felt so embarrassed after walking out of one guy's office after he said I wasted his time and his staff's time by getting my teeth cleaned...even though he refused to see me until I had a required cleaning. From 2006 until now, I have searched for a dentist who might be able to help me. 2 weeks ago, I came across a name I hadn't seen before and he did everything from dentures to implants and was only 40 minutes away. I emailed him my scenario (bad teeth as a child, pain/infections throughout the years, bleeding gums, yellowing caps on my front teeth, etc...). When I went for my consultation, he told me he would be very candid and upfront with me - which he was. He told me there was nothing he could do for my natural teeth. He said he could try, but that I'd probably be back in his chair in a year to two - paying twice as much and would probably end up in dentures anyway. He said I've been on the "dental treadmill" for too many years and it was time to get off. I did my best to not cry that day - but I knew what had to be done. He told me to come back in two days for his plan and cost. When I went back, he told me that he first wants to remove my back teeth and let the gums heal. Within a month or two, he'll take impressions for a full set of dentures. He said the dental lab he works with makes the most beautiful teeth and that I will not be disappointed. He said we'll then dedicate an entire appointment to us just discussing what looks good, how I want my smile to appear and that I'll fully decide on the final outcome of my new teeth (with his opinions as needed). Soon after that, I'll return to have my remaining upper/lower front teeth extracted and my "new smile" inserted. Doing things in this order and in this time span will allow me to get my permanent dentures after the final, front extractions and they'll have a great fit. I know a lot of people go to the affordable denture places due to cost and the quickness (just like my mom did)...but I feel more comfortable going to a dental practice where I can develop a relationship between myself and the staff. It costs a bit more to go this route, but the care/attention/quality are worth every penny for anyone who can do it (with me: I took out a loan). I've only been there twice and they have been more than wonderful. With my first appt, I held my tears back until I got to the car. With my second appt, I lost it immediately when the dentist showed me his plan of action. Within seconds, his assistant was beside me with a box of kleenex and the dentist looked me directly in the eyes and promised me that I'd walk out of his office even more beautiful than I am now. Those were actions and words that money can't buy :) He then proceeded to tell me that I'll have a 2-3 year window of opportunity to have mini implants inserted to hold the dentures in and to stabilize my bone structure. He said we'd table the discussion until a little further down the road; but that it was definitely an option.
How do I feel at this moment: nothing but mixed emotions. I've felt everything from being scared...to feeling excited...to worrying if it'll be noticeable...to thinking of how I'll finally have the nice smile I've only been able to dream about. My word of advice: don't visit any internet sites that only focus on the negatives of dentures. It's good to research the pros & cons (as in any situation); but some of those sites are pretty ridiculous and make people feel bad (seriously- do they think people "want" to get dentures!). Right now, I'm only 2 days away from doing something that's going to change the rest of my life and there's no going back. Am I nervous? Yes. Am I scared? Very. Can I do anything to change what's about to happen? No, unless I can fork over 50K for implants. So, I have a choice to make: I can either go into this as an optimist or a pessimist. Thankfully, I've chosen to be an optimist. In a few months, I'm going to have a brand new, beautiful, white smile!!! Society can say what they want about dentures - but this procedure is giving me back something that I lost a long time ago. Sure, I'm scared about the long term effects and what the future holds; but worrying about all that stuff will probably make me older quicker than the dentures will. As a Christian woman, I know this body is only temporary...so why not fix it up and try to make it look beautiful!!! In all honesty, everyone alters their appearance in one form or another to look and feel better. Life is not going to end with this, it's only going to get better!! With me personally: I'll be finally be able to eat certain things without pain, I'll no longer have fear that my front teeth are going to shatter if I bite into something wrong, I won't have to do a check in the morning to make sure everything is still intact, I'll be able to wear the color white, I won't have to shy away when I smile, no more waking in the middle of the night with horrible toothaches or a mouth full of blood, etc, etc... I know it's going to be a rough road for the first month or two; but what's one or two months after years and years of pain and embarrassment. Will I tell anyone? Probably not. Right now- only my dentist, my parents and two close friends know and that's the way it'll stay. Will I show anyone? Absolutely not. My dentist and his assistant will be the only people who will ever see me without my dentures. Call me vain or whatever, but I am a woman with pride. As a single woman, am I scared about meeting someone and having to tell someone about this? Yes, very much so. But if someone cannot look past something so cosmetic, then they don't need to be in my life anyway. My mother has had dentures since she was 18 and my dad says it has never phased him once (to me - that's true love). My mother is a beautiful lady with an even more beautiful soul...her smile and laughter light up any room :) She has been at the root of my courage and strength.
Another word of advice to anyone who's new to the idea of getting dentures- definitely check out the videos of "kalinjax" on youtube. Seeing her videos was a huge turning point for me. To see someone so young and so beautiful go through the same thing - gave me hope that this really is going to be ok :) I applaud her for being so brave and open. Lord knows I could never do what she did...but I'm very thankful to her for sharing her story.
Words to live by: The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. -Winston Churchill