Friday, April 29, 2016

I'll not take chewing for granted ever again.

Such a momentous occasion yesterday!

**sniff....dabbing emotional tears**

Announcing the arrival of the newest Julia body part: Tooth!

It's the one with the titanium screw drilled into my jaw. Ain't it a beauty? 

And I have to say, it's about time. I've been living with a fragile temporary ever since the implant was placed back in November after been sternly advised that I was not to use it to actually bite into anything. So in between trips to have the stupid thing repaired and re-attached (because it was right next to my front tooth for pete's sake) I gnawed on things on the left side of my mouth. 

An attractive eating method. Not. 

The night before the much anticipated arrival of my permanent tooth replacement, as I was having a bedtime snack -- a mushy bowl of cereal -- I felt several pieces of something hard and sharp in my mouth. I spit the whole mouthful out...ewww...and found that the temp tooth had just crumbled into several pieces. 

I think it realized that it's life was over and just gave up the ghost. 

So I went to bed with a gaping hole in my smile and presented myself the next morning to my dentist. Who was amused when I told him that the temp that he had made for me just barely made it to the finish line in our little dental journey which began last November with the placement of the first part of the implant. 

After I had the permanent one installed, the dentist, his staff and I had a lengthy discussion about how I should debut my new choppers. He suggested chomping into a big steak. The dental assistant suggested crunchy caramel corn, which I found myself agreeing with until I thought of something that trumped them all. So I said good-bye and motored over to a nearby grocery store and grabbed one of these:

When I got home and after washing it, I placed that apple squarely in front of my teeth and took a satisfying sweet juicy crunchy bite. 


As I chewed on the RIGHT side of my mouth, I looked at the the picture of my dental x-rays that I had snapped on my phone camera, and was reminded of the toll that Sjogren's syndrome had taken. I realized that almost every tooth in my mouth reflected the effects of abnormal saliva: almost all had either a filling or a crown or was missing altogether and was replaced with an implant. 

And this was a very frustrating thing since I brush with a Sonicare toothbrush, floss regularly, and have my teeth cleaned three times a year. But Sjogren's dry mouth and the resulting lack of the protective agents in normal saliva has really taken an expensive and painful toll on my teeth; which reminded me of a post that I wrote several years ago but still contains some useful information about the battle between autoimmune disease and spit. Yes, the opening paragraphs are silly, but just keep reading and actual information eventually surfaces: 

The dimly lit auditorium is crowded, boisterously loud, and smoke-filled. The raucous crowd focuses on the boxing ring brightly lit in the center of the room. An official stands in the spotlight and grabs the overhead microphone.
"Ladies and Gentlemen! In this corner, the heavyweight champion - Rock 'em Sock 'em Sjogren's Syndrome!"
The crowd cheers wildly.  
"In this corner, the lightweight contender - Spittin' Sammy salivary gland!"
The platinum blonde next to you adjusts her mink wrap as the crowd jeers. She stops chewing her wad of gum long enough to lean over and comment, "Awww. Poor little guy don't have a chance.." 
Unfortunately, Blondie is right. Anyone who deals with the heavyweight champ Sjogren's Syndrome knows that our saliva glands don't last long in the ring before a KO punch puts them down for the count. Continue reading here. 


Anonymous said...

Over time all my teeth either shattered or just fell out. Ended up with dentures that are increasingly a challenge to wear because of the lack of saliva. What fun. NOT.

Nicole said...

Thanks for sharing your new arrival with us! :D Seriously, I will have to have an implant within the next few years. For me it's not due to Sjs but genetically missing adult teeth and my body is resorbing the baby teeth. I'm just trying to hang onto these until I have dental insurance. I'm a little intimidated as I've never had any major dental work. So thanks for sharing!

stephanie said...

Will the lack of saliva from SS affect the implant and/or recovery? I've heard different things about this. Thanks for any updates.