Back in April I announced to my handful of readers that I hadn’t been able to bite into a crisp ripe apple for the past 25 years and that it was high time to do something about it. I was going to hit the long & painful road to a full set of dental implants or as I like to call them, screwed in permanent dentures. (Neither my dentist nor my periodontist like that description at all) It wasn’t something I was proud of because of the way I got to that point in my dental life but I figured if I made it public, it would make it easier to deal with in the long run.
Now I know a lot of people that like going to the dentist. Good for them. I think they are psychotic personally. When my mind’s eye conjures up thoughts of the dentist, it inevitably leads me to Laurence Olivier & Dustin Hoffman in the torture scene from the movie “Marathon Man” or to the dental tools that Steve Martin had in “Little Shop of Horrors”. When it comes to my mouth, the images of unicorns, lollipops & rainbows are never part of the equation. So knowing that we were going to remove all of my remaining upper teeth so that we could put me into dentures for at least five months was not something I was really looking forward to.
The procedure was done in two parts. First we removed all of the broken & decayed teeth and almost all of my molars. I could still smile but I couldn’t really grind food anymore so my diet consisted of a lot of soft food and reimagined dishes. (Kudos to my wife for being extremely creative & understanding with a somewhat childish & difficult customer) Six weeks after that I had the remaining uppers taken out and I was given my denture and my life had permanently changed.
I have to give credit where credit is due and my dentist did an incredible job with what little she had left to work with. I have been told by several people that my “teeth” look great and that you can’t tell at all that they aren’t real. If anything, you might think I went for some teeth whitening or got veneers. What they don’t see is what’s going on inside my mouth and inside my head. I guess my situation can best be described or compared as that cupcake or piece of candy that looks great on the outside and then when you bite into it, it’s a big mess.
Wearing a full denture is a lot like wearing a mouthguard. Only instead of the teeth being inside the mouthguard, they are sticking out of the mouthguard. With this kind of particular mouthguard, it reaches back and adheres to the roof of your mouth. It takes quite a bit of getting used to and even three months into the process, I’m still not there 100% of the way. The bite points are slightly off. Near the end of the day my speech slurs a little as my tongue gets caught on the denture. The plastic tends to get dry. At times it just feels like a big lump of plastic in my mouth. The adhesive will ooze out of the sides when you chew something tough and the adhesive strips just don’t seem to work for me. Very hot coffee or soup will also loosen the adhesive and in a fun little twist, extremely spicy food will MELT the adhesive. (Sidebar: my homemade stuffed jalapenos almost made my dentures fall out of my mouth like I was in an old time Saturday morning cartoon).
From a mental standpoint, I am still having some difficulty with having to take my “teeth” out every night and having to put them back in every morning. There is something about brushing your “teeth” in your hand that still gets to me but on a positive note, I don’t need or have to floss. I do get self-conscience when I smile because I know from looking at pictures that my mouth looks too full but that’s just me and I am sure that no one else notices. It’s probably also the reason I have shied away from voluntarily going out to social events. It’s silly. I know it is but it’s inside my head like week old leftovers and I really just need to clean them out.
In a few weeks I will go for another cat scan of my jaw to see if the bone grafts took. All indications so far are that they did so we will move forward with the installation of the posts and implants in late November or early December. I’ll drink my turkey through a straw if I have to. Once the posts set, we will start all over on the bottom half of my mouth.
Biting into a crisp ripe apple is getting closer but we aren’t there yet. At least I have moved from applesauce to apple slices.