Toothy-pegs, nashers-whatever you call them, it’s time we had a little chat about them don’t you think…
I know it’s not glamorous, or even remotely attractive but I think it’s a necessary one, so we’ll get this out of the way quickly and then talk about something lovely like pretty dresses and shoes next time I promise…
What a lot of people may not realise until they find themselves there is that when you are bedbound for a significant amount of time two things can happen to your body. One is that you aren’t using your muscles so you they start to weaken and waste away-we’ll talk about that in more detail another time though. The second and more relevant right now is that your appetite decreases massively. Illness itself is usually enough to stop people eating, but when you can’t actually do anything to burn off what you do manage to eat then your appetite basically disappears. The combination of massive muscle loss and a significant drop in weight means that your bone density decreases an awful lot. And when that happens it’s going to have a knock-on effect on your teeth. Mine suffered massively from my big weight loss and it was a huge source of shame for me.
I loved my teeth. They were a really lovely shape and I’d always looked after them, but illness destroyed them. I was so embarrassed by this that I would not go to the dentist. I didn’t want anyone to know how awful they’d become. I managed to avoid it for 18 months after being Well enough to go back to work.
Then one day I realised that every time I saw them I was being reminded of the years of Illness. I was so paranoid about them I couldn’t even smile properly…and how could I call myself a Free Person if I couldn’t even do that…so I took a deep breath and went to see my dentist…
It was hard, it was upsetting. I had a major distrust of doctors by then and I didn’t want to voluntarily put myself in the hands of one. He was very nice to me-assured me I was not a disgrace and he’d seen much worse on a daily basis. But he also said I’d left it too long and I had to go see a Dental Surgeon…I think you can imagine the joy this filled me with…
It turns out the Dental Surgeon he sent me to is an absolute sweetheart of a man. What really reassured me was that he was adamant it was not my fault-I really needed to hear that-and that it could all be fixed given time. It’s been a long process but I’m so pleased and relieved I finally confronted my fear and embarrassment-I only wish I’d done it way sooner. (It turned out I was in nowhere near as bad a shape as I’d originally assumed. The only work needed doing was to the back ones-it was a significant amount-but nothing like those programmes where they rebuild people’s whole mouths for the sake of a makeover-so a lot of my fears were totally unfounded, and I’m sure yours will be too…)
What really made the difference was that he let me talk through it all with him first. Why I was in this situation. The Catch 22 I felt about not wanting to go through the procedure without sedation-but how scared I was of being out of control of my body (this was a massive fear I think we’ll talk about this fully another time). Make sure you are being seen by someone who gets it. The Dental Surgeon I see understood straight away and did everything he could to reassure me along the way. I love him (and apparently tell him this many, many times whilst under sedation…I even offer to set him up with various mates of mine…don’t think his wife is massively chuffed with me…)
If you are reading this and are in this situation I want to reassure you that:
- It’s not your fault.
- Dentists can tell the difference from teeth trouble due to Bone Mass Loss and general neglect.
- Tell them your story. If you are nervous there are things they can do to help you. I find massive amounts of sedation works a treat 🙂
- It is so worth it. You will feel so different after getting it all sorted out. The relief itself is indescribable.
- It’s something else you can tick off the list of your Journey to Wellness.
I’m not a doctor. The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice and care. If you have specific needs, please see a professional health care provider. Thank you.