I went to the dentist’s office yesterday for the first time in over 10 years. I know, it’s terrible, especially for someone who runs a health and fitness blog, but I haven’t had dental insurance ever since I turned 18. I got dental coverage last year, but I’ve been putting it off, and for too long it seems. My gums started to hurt last month and I decided that I would finally look for a dentist and make an appointment.
When I went in yesterday, I was extremely nervous and anxious. I wasn’t scared of the pain (well, maybe a little), but I was worried about how many problems my teeth and gums would have. I was almost positive that I had at least one or two cavities.
I was also scared that I might have done some serious irreversible damage that might cause problems later in life. Some type of gum disease or something. I don’t know. Well, it turns out that I did cause some irreversible damage, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
X-rays and a Deep Cleaning
Because it has been so long since I’ve been to the dentist, they wanted to do a very thorough x-ray scan. They did 18 scans in all, which felt like forever. You’re probably familiar with the process; They cover your body in a lead blanket, then they put those little square things in your mouth and you have to bite down while the edges jab into the roof of your mouth and under your tongue. OUCH! I hate those things.
My scans came back good. The hygienist did a little poking and prodding and found nothing wrong. It turns out that after 10 years, my teeth are actually pretty healthy. No cavities!
I had some tartar build-up, like most people probably do, so she started the cleaning process to get rid of it. It took quite a while, but she said that it won’t take anywhere near as long next time, as long as I continue to make regular visits. She was actually worried that the deep clean would have to be split into two visits, in case there would be too much blood for her to work with, but I guess it was fine since we made it all the way through.
The Irreversible Damage That I’ve Caused
I had my tongue pierced when I turned 18 and I got rid of it when I was about 28 (2 years ago). The reason I got rid of it is because I chipped a lot of teeth. I did some serious damage. Teeth don’t grow back. Each time I chipped another tooth, it hurt whenever I ate, but with time, the tooth seemed to smooth over and it wouldn’t hurt anymore.
The dentist told me that as long as it’s not bothering me, he wouldn’t need to do anything. I would assume that if you really wanted to fix chipped teeth like mine, you could get porcelain veneers, but that would be a little pricey. I’m not worried about aesthetics and my chipped teeth aren’t noticeable anyway. It sucks that I have permanently chipped teeth, but they work.
What isn’t good though, is that I also have two labret piercings, which have also caused damage. I’ve had them for around 6-8 years and I never noticed a problem, but slowly over time, they’ve been wearing away at my gums. The gum line where the rings have been rubbing are now so low that the it has uncovered the very bottom of my teeth, exposing nerves. Last month I thought my gums were hurting, but come to find out, it’s the nerves of my teeth. 🙁
Click the image for the full-size photo
I really wish I would’ve have known better when I got the piercings. The problem isn’t necessarily the rings themselves, but it’s the ball on the rings, which you can see in the picture above. In the past I would turn the rings around so that they balls would be hidden behind my lip. Last month when my gums started to hurt, I turned the rings around so that the ball is on the outside. I’ve noticed that the rings don’t touch my gums at all this way.
The hygienist told me that the damage can’t be undone. The gums won’t grow back. She said that I could use fluoride as a sealant though, which should prevent the pain for a few days, but I’ll have to keep reapplying it.
I read a few stories online from people who have had the same receding gum line due to labret piercings, who claim to have regrown their gum lines, despite the dentist also telling them that it will never grow back, so I’m hoping that my dentist is wrong too.
Anyway, to go to the dentist after more than 10 years and to find out that my dental health is fairly good, I’m really happy.
Now I don’t have to go back for 10 more years 😉
Just kidding, I’m going back every six months from now on.