I have bad teeth. I’ve always had bad teeth. I had to have several baby teeth capped so that I had enough teeth to eat with before my adult teeth came in. No amount of brushing and flossing saved them. I used to hate toothpaste commercials when I was a child. “Look, Mom, no cavities!” My dentist visits were always more like “another four cavities to fill.” Later in life it was more like “Well, that’s another root canal and crown.” The only person in my life that didn’t give me a hard time about my teeth was my dentist, who could tell I was brushing and flossing but just had horrible teeth.
“Take care of your teeth and they’ll take care of you.”
Hell with that. My teeth were fuckers. Even my crowns eventually said “Fuck you, we’re out of here.”
People judge you when you have bad teeth. You might as well be an uneducated twat living in a hut in the woods and married to your cousin. You stop smiling. You start mumbling because you don’t want to open your mouth. You cover your mouth when you laugh. People still know your teeth are mostly missing. You just can’t keep teeth from showing when you talk, no matter how hard you try.
I’m fifty years old, and I’ve had a top denture for three entire days now. What took me so long? A bill that’s over four thousand dollars, that’s what took me so long. Teeth are as important to good health as the rest of your body, and bad teeth can kill you, but even if you are dying from bad teeth, no one really cares. Dental insurance is pretty laughable these days. I have two policies. Each pays a maximum of 750 bucks per year. Despite the fact that I had nine surgical extractions and dentures, neither policy wants to pay all of that 750 bucks. And a 750 dollar maximum is pretty common these days.
So how do you pay for a dentist bill over 4k when the insurance pays so little? My new job last year had a health savings account. I saved every penny of that, and added some of my own money every week. I also had a kind family member who gave me some money towards my teeth. I also found that most elusive of creatures, a dentist office that will let me make payments. So many places these days want all the money up front. Who the hell has that kind of money?
Money. Money is the only reason it’s taken me so long. Over 4k, and that was just for the uppers. I need a partial on the bottom, but that’s going to have to wait. I’ll have to get the upper paid off and save up some more money. And that’s if I get to keep my “Immediate Denture.” Immediate Dentures are often called “Temporary Dentures,” because once about 6 months have passed, and the bone and gums have healed completely, your immediate dentures often fit so badly that even a re-line isn’t enough. And the permanent re-line? That costs extra.
Enough about how teeth are fuckers, and on to what you need to know about the first few days with dentures. Keep in mind that my experience is with Immediate Dentures, upper only.
-Leave them in as much as you can stand. The first week, you should even sleep in them. The more used to them you are, the more natural they will seem, and the better you will be able to eat with them. After the first bit, you’re supposed to leave them out a few hours a day to let the roof of your mouth get some air, but that first week, wear that fucker all of the time. Early in the day it will seem pretty easy, by the end of the day they might make you crazy, but persevere.
-You will be attacked by excess saliva. Your mouth is reacting to a foreign object, expect some drool. By day three, it’s been much better.
– There will be blood. I had nine surgical extractions. My upper gums look like something out of a horror movie. My friends and family want to see a pic of my new teeth, but I don’t want one with blood on the teeth, so I’m waiting.
-You’ll be afraid to take it out the first time (after 24 hours, by the way) but it will be all right. Put your thumb behind your front teeth, and push up and out. This will break the seal and they will pop right out. Now you can rinse the blood and gore off of the inside of them. You can also rinse your mouth, but don’t spit! Don’t do anything to risk losing the scabs forming in your sockets. No spitting, no drinking from straws, and if you smoke, try to do it without closing your mouth and sucking.
-They will need to be constantly adjusted. This is the biggest reason you want a good dentist, and not some fly-by-night discount place. I was supposed to return in a week, but I had to call the dentist office this morning. the front was too high, and it was making my mouth so sore it was worse than the extraction sites. The office got me in today, and got it ground down in about 10 minutes. This will happen on and off as the swelling goes down. Expect lots of adjustments and call your dentist as often as you need to.
-It takes time to learn to eat. I’ve had complications because my pain meds and antibiotic have made me very pukey. The dentist took me off the antibiotic completely. I think I’ll try a half dose of the pain med. I’m sick of being nauseous.
And that’s where I stopped writing last night because even a half dose of that pain med made me so nauseated that I had to go lie down. No more pain med for me. I’ll just take some ibuprophen and suck it up.
-What can you eat? According to my dentist, anything you feel up too. You don’t have to stick to soft food, but your mouth will be sore and my doc said softer food is good to practice chewing. I’ve been doing all right. People warned me that bread would stick, but I’ve had no trouble with peanut butter sandwiches and grilled cheese. It’s easier to bite with your corner teeth than front. Today I had a nice frozen dinner with fish, rice, and broccoli and cheese, and handled it fine. Chewing with food on both sides of your mouth is easier than one side. I may not be chewing awesomely, but it’s better than chewing with no teeth. Some things are out of the question, like biting an apple, but I couldn’t do that before. The trick with biting things is that you have to learn to bite against it instead of pulling away from it as feels normal.
-How do you clean them? Get a denture brush and clean with water. Toothpaste is too abrasive, and even products that are marketed to clean dentures will dull them over time. You don’t need to waste money on fizzy baths or denture paste; just brush them with water.
If you need dentures, be fearless. It’s not that bad. Save up some money if you can, find a good dentist, and look for one that will let you do a payment plan. Then practice eating and practice talking until your s sounds stop whistling.
Your perseverance is amazing. I don’t know much about teeth or dentures, and so never realised just what an ordeal it can be.
Really hope you can smile a little more confidently.
Thanks, FF! The smile is getting easier, though I realized today that it’s going to take time to break the habit of covering my mouth when I laugh.