Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Oral Surgery

Remember when this happened to me (start reading from the 3rd paragraph if you are interested in the story)?  Well, that was only just the beginning!  A few months after I had that tooth worked on, my other I-tooth started bothering me.  It didn't hurt, it just would pound all day, everyday, like I could feel the heart beat in it.  I went in to make sure it wasn't about to abscess because I really didn't want to be in that much pain again!  When the dentist took a look at it he said, "Oh boy.  We have a big problem." Of course we do. He showed me on the X-Ray how my tooth was resorbing.  Basically the bone was disappearing from the inside out.  He told me I would need to start saving my money because it was an expensive procedure (a minimum of $6,000 per tooth) but was necessary. I was going to need to have the tooth completely removed, have a post put up inside my gum, and get an implant 6 months down the road.  He said if I let it go, it would eventually break in half, and be stuck up inside my gum, creating mo' money, mo' problems.  Well, I decided we HAD to ignore it.  I mean, come on, how were we supposed to afford $6,000 when none of it would be covered by insurance?! Plus, I SO did NOT want to go 6 whole months without a tooth!

Well, that was last August.  Last week Rick and I went in for our regular cleanings.  I was kinda dreading the whole "resorbing tooth" conversation because I knew it would eventually come up.  The pounding has only gotten worse since I was in 7 months ago, it also felt so fragile that I was afraid it was going to snap in half every time I bit into something.  I decided not to bring it up at all, and see if he brought it up himself.  I wanted to keep on ignoring it because, A) I still didn't want to go 6 months without a tooth, and B) we are even worse off financially than we were 7 months ago (having twins will do that to ya!). The hygenist started working on cleaning my teeth.  She gets to my I-tooth (kanine tooth) and says, "Ummmm, has anyone talked to you about this tooth?" I played dumb and said, "What, that my gum line is receding?" She said, "Well, not just that but the bone is extremely thin.  I'm afraid to even brush over it." Just at that moment, my dentist walked by and exclaimed, "Don't scrape that tooth!" (ya know, with that scrapey tool thing they use to get the plaque off?). He told her it was resorbing and that he wanted a current x-ray on it.  We took the x-ray and he pulled up the one from 7 months ago and put the new one next to it on the screen. It was crazy to see how much bone had disappeared in just 7 months.  There was a whole chunk missing from the new x-ray that was there in the old one.  GREAT!  He then proceeded to tell me that the other I-tooth (that I had the operation on back in December 2010) had also begun resorbing and that I needed to get into an oral surgeon immediately to have the situation assessed.  Ah!  So now its not $6,000, but double that, if not more!

I went to see my oral surgeon (who, by the way, is a phenomenal doctor) and he had more bad news for me.  Not only were the teeth resorbing but I had huge abscesses above both teeth that were so big that they were starting to meet in the middle above my front four teeth.  The infection was eating away my bone and tissue.  When I asked why I wasn't in hideous pain he said that it had eaten away so much bone that it wasn't creating the pressure that is usually created by an abscess. So, instead of just getting two teeth pulled and having posts inserted (which in and of itself is a huge process), I also had to have all the infection and debris cleaned out and he had to do bone grafts to replace all the lost bone and tissue.  He didn't think we would even be able to place the posts for 6-8 months until all the bone grafting had healed, then he would cut me back open, insert the posts, and I would have to wait a whole 6-8 months more before I could get my implants. Not to mention that we were now up into the $12-14,000 range. I scheduled my surgery for just three days later.  This was an emergency.  He said the infection was so close to my sinuses that we didn't want to wait any longer. That would open a whole new can of worms. I left that appointment feeling extremely dejected.

The day of the surgery came.  I was terrified!  Rick took work off and drove me in.  I had Carly and another friend in the ward take the kids for us (THANK YOU!). Sitting in the waiting room I seriously thought I was going to vomit.  I hate having work done in my mouth.  I absolutely HATE it!  The funny thing is that I thought I wanted to be a dental hygenist.  I took all the prerequisites in college (same prereqs you take for nursing), did very well, and right before I started the application process got a job as a dental assistant.  I absolutely HATED it!  I just couldn't watch the shots go into the mouth over and over again.  I could watch a needle go into someones arm all day long, but into the mouth I quickly realized was a whole different story. Anyway, I was just dying in the waiting room. They called me back and started me on the nitrous gas. All I have to say is the gas was well worth the money I spent on it!  It calmed me down just enough that I didn't start screaming when he walked into the room :) I was in the chair for an hour and a half feeling all this pulling and prodding and hearing a bunch of cracking.  Like I said, good thing I was on laughing gas. My left I-tooth came out really easily.  He just pulled really hard and it broke away from the bone.  The right one, however, was a different story.  This is the one that felt like it was going to break every time I bit into something.  He went to put his plier thingys around it and as soon as he put a little bit of pressure on it, it just disintegrated!  It did exactly what my dentist said would happen, it would break off in half and the top part would be stuck in my gum.  Boy, am I glad I was numb when this happened!  Looks like I was just days away from experiencing that awful thing all on my own.

When he pulled the two teeth out and I felt two huge holes with my tongue for the first time I nearly lost it. Call me vain, but I really didn't want to look like a hillbilly for a year and a half.  Then, he told me the good news.  He said the infection was really bad, and that I did have to have a lot of grafting done, BUT he also was going to be able to get the posts in today!  Wahoo!  So there goes 8 months off of my waiting time for my implants!  I was so relieved!  So he inserted the two posts, and put my temporary teeth in.  The temporary is the thing I am least excited about.  Its not just two teeth, its a whole mouth guard tray that covers all of my teeth, and there are two fake teeth sitting in the empty slots. Pretty much it looks like I have an Invisalign in.  When my dentist described what it would be like, I have to admit I was pretty upset.  I so did not want to have to wear that for 6 months!  But, I have to say, I am pleasantly surprised.  He did a great job.  You can still tell I have something in my mouth, but it isn't as bad as I thought it would be.

The last few days since the surgery have been pretty miserable. As soon as the numbing wore off I was in EXCRUCIATING pain!  I took my Vicodin and tried to sleep but the pain was so bad I couldn't.  On top of that, I was super nauseous and I started vomiting. I couldn't keep anything down. The next morning I woke up feeling pretty good.  Not much pain, just still nauseous, even though I didn't take any more Vicodin after that first one. By late afternoon I was in horrible pain again.  I took a Vicodin and was nauseous the rest of the evening.  This morning I am pretty swollen and its really hurting to keep the mouth guard in because the incisions are pressing up really hard against it.  I'm hoping this is the last day that I'm in a lot of pain though.  They said it should only last about 3 days.  I have to keep the mouthguard in to keep the swelling down.  The mouthguard is a funny thing.  It is making me feel so claustrophobic, like all my teeth are really confined and just screaming to get out.  But, when I take it off to do my brushing and swish with my medicated mouth wash I want to get it back in immediately because without it, it feels like all my teeth are going to fall out!  My cornerstone teeth are missing and it feels like the rest aren't anchored in anymore!

Even though this is miserable, I am also grateful for so many things.  While I was in the chair I kept thinking, "How did the pioneers do this!?"  I don't know how you go through things like that without anesthesia!  Also, I'm so grateful for the preventative measures we have.  That my dentist was able to see what would happen before it happened, so I didn't have to experience it. I'm also grateful for bone donors, who provided me with new bone so that I can have new teeth put in my mouth.  I'm grateful for an awesome dentist and oral surgeon who have done everything they could to make sure I will still look pretty :)  I'm grateful for the dentist's office manager who surprised me with dinner the day of my surgery.  I'm grateful that this whole not being able to keep anything down has made it so I'm only a pound and a half from my pre pregnancy weight, ha! I'm grateful for my friends and sister in law who have taken my kids for me.  I'm grateful for my hubby for taking work off to help me, and for his awesome company for allowing him to do that.  I'm grateful for my tender-hearted 3 year old who has been so sweet every time she sees me. "Mom," she says in a worried voice, "you still have holes in your mouth?" When I tell her I do, she gently strokes me cheek, puts her forehead to my forehead and says, "I'm so, so sorry".

Rick snapped a pic of me before we left for the surgery.  The last time I had my teeth in my mouth. two pics are extremely hideous :)

You can't really tell how swollen I am here.  Its not as bad as my surgery that I had a year ago, but I'm still swollen.

I don't know if I will ever be brave enough to reveal what I look like without my fake teeth in :)  Its pretty scary!  Hopefully the next time you see me, you won't even realize that I have a mouthguard in.  But, if you do, maybe you could fib and tell me it looks so good you forgot that I even had anything in there. Ha!


Karen Pedersen said...

I'm grateful they caught it and took care of it before everything fell apart. Hang in there. You've had a wild ride this past year or so. You're due for a few years of smooth sailing! Can't wait to see you this weekend!

Kate W. said...

Oh, my goodness Kori! You have had a wild ride! I'm so glad that they found all this before the infection spread. I can tell you, on the plus side, that that 8 months will go very quickly! I had an implant put in for one of my front teeth -- had what they call a "flapper" to replace it until I was ready for the actual implant, and I hated that thing. I honestly didn't wear it that much, unless I was in public. Of course, I'm not as pretty as you are! LOL! But, you'll reach a point where you get used to there not being teeth there, and it will feel strange again when you get the implants done. I hope the 8 months goes quickly for you, and that you can put all this behind you! :)

Todd Family said...

My teeth hurt just thinking about this! so sorry! i'm sure you are the prettiest hill billy out there! :) lol jk. so glad they caught it before something worse happened, but yikes for the bill! that sucks!!! i'm sorry!! hope your mouth starts to feel better!

Kade and Kaylee said...

Kori! I cannot believe all of this happened. Seriously? I'm right there with ya on hating dental work. I would have been having a complete meltdown. I wish we lived by each other so I could help! love ya!

Ty and Ash Sorensen said...

Oh wow!! ThAt is a crazy couple of days.. and to take care of 3 kids.. you are amazing!! Hopefully thats the last of the teeth problems.. I was a dental assistant and loved it, but i HATE going to the dentist for me. I always have problems haha;)!! YOu look so good though! Nice work on being back to pre pregnancy weight! Thats the best feeling right!!

Pam Klassen said...

ack Kori I feel your pain, having experienced some pretty intense dental surgeries myself. Hang in there, you are blessed with a terrific support system and will feel better in no time!

McKenzie... said...

I am so so sorry. What a nightmare. I can't even imagine. Please tell me your insurance is going to help pay some of that huge bill? That is ridiculous that oral surgery can cost as much as a new car. So not fair. The roberts family deserves a nice long break free of illness, er visits, dental visits, and everything else. I feel so bad for you. Hope you are feeling better!

Megan Marie said...

oh kori!!! ok first things first...implants have come a long way and don't be worried! i'm so glad they caught it, it stopped hurting because your body formed a fistula... a place for the infection to drain!

on a brighter note, they make implants look soo good today that your avg person will not even notice anything.

you'll still be beautiful, i don't doubt that!

Shea and Katy Roberson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shea and Katy Roberson said...

You know, you have some pretty graphic posts. I'm glad there weren't pictures of some of these things you were describing. But hope you feel better.

If it makes you feel better, 90% of the people in my town are missing at least one tooth.

Liz Smith said...

oh my goodness, i can't believe all of this has been happening to you! how awful! :( :( :( but way to look at the positive. i'm so glad they were able to catch it. gotta love modern medicine!!! i hope you're feeling a little better today.

Brielle Franklin said...

You poor thing! Just be thankful that they found the infection in time and you are in the process of getting better now. I had to have a few teeth removed last year. It stunk. I wasn't able to eat anything relatively healthy for days. However, once I went back for my check up my doctor told me I could get new teeth in a day. I was so excited. I am pretty sure I have not stopped smiling since!