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teeth tales

Some of (the few of) you who read this journal will not know that I was born with a cleft palate - essentially, the roof of my mouth never fully developed - and a hare lip as well. All of that was repaired years ago, the bulk of the work being done when I was an infant/toddler, and my last operation taking place when I was 11, at the end of fifth grade. However, over twenty years later, it continues to affect my life.

During my teens when I was going through orthodontics, I needed to have two upper teeth removed, one on either side of my two frontmost teeth. Ever since, I've been wearing a retainer that has two false teeth built in. The retainer was meant to be a temporary thing and should have been replaced years ago. Last fall, when I finally went to a new dentist here in Seattle, I started looking into getting permanent false teeth in place of the retainer.

I was already aware that my front two upper teeth are "floating" - they're not anchored in the skull. It turns out the lack of bone extends to either side, where the missing teeth were. So that seemed to rule out one option, implants - which are false teeth attached to metal anchor posts drilled into the bone. Instead, it seemed that bridgework - attaching false teeth to the adjacent natural teeth - was the best option for me.

However, my dentist had me consult with an oral surgeon. The surgeon is concerned that because there's no bone, not only will I eventually lose the front two teeth, but I'd also lose the side teeth that are to be used to anchor the bridgework (and so I'd lose that too). So the surgeon has recommended bone grafting - actually taking fresh bone marrow from my thigh and using that to grow new bone where my upper jaw is missing. This will anchor the existing front two teeth properly, and provide bone where implants can be anchored as well.

My dentist has already said he may recommend a consultation with another surgeon, to get a second opinion before making any final decisions. But at the moment this sounds like the plan that needs to be pursued. I've got a regular checkup on Tuesday, so I'll try to push this along and get a second consultation scheduled if that's needed. It's time to get this taken care of, already!



( 5 have written — Write )
Feb. 1st, 2004 12:32 pm (UTC)
Good luck! Dentists scare the bejeebus out of me, but I think it's cool you're having it done!
Feb. 1st, 2004 03:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks! When I was a kid, for a while I didn't like going and was afraid they'd do painful things. And my dad thought it was funny to tell me, every time I asked what the appointment was for, that they were going to take out all my teeth. :-) But as you might imagine, I had many trips for dental, orthodontal, and other work, so I eventually got used to it.
Feb. 1st, 2004 04:55 pm (UTC)
fangs. get fangs. you'll be a hit with all the ladies phil. trust me.
Feb. 3rd, 2004 02:58 pm (UTC)
Fortunately, I'm not a 15-year-old obsessive vampire fan and have better sense than that. Though if I could swap the teeth whenever I wanted, then having a spare pair of fangs might work. Ooh, or gold teeth, I could be all pirate-y! Arrrr!
Feb. 3rd, 2004 03:12 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry I didn't read this post before replying to Part two.

It's great that you have options to have your jaw repaired. Good luck to you Phil.

( 5 have written — Write )

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