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Went to dentist after 8 years. Feeling so ashamed.

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takeheart

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Jun 22, 2022
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I’m 32. I haven't been to the dentist many times in my life, but the experiences were so painful that I've always been terrified of going back. My mouth is full of fillings and my last bout of dental work involved getting interproximal fillings in my incisors and a root canal in a premolar. I was 24. I’d been dealing with major depression for 8 years and taking care of myself was not a priority. Anyway, I got treatment for depression, changed my life radically, and would say the depression has been under control for several years, but I'm still learning how to care about and take care of myself.

I worked up the courage to make a dentist appointment in February 2020 and finally got into the chair a few months later. That dentist diagnosed me with:

- bruxism


- a cracked tooth due to bruxism


- TMJ


- deep bite malocclusion leading to my bottom incisors wearing grooves in the backs of my central incisors, eventually the bottom teeth would fall out and the top teeth would break off if I didn’t get braces ASAP

I asked if I had any cavities and the response was “you have about 3 cavities.” This dentist was not interested in cavities and said they wouldn’t work on anything until I’d agreed to Invisalign. After being read a list of serious, expensive problems my insurance would not cover at all and would cost me my entire annual post-tax income, I left with no intention of seeing this dentist again. I started wearing a mouth guard at night and half-heartedly looking for a new dentist. I knew I had problems - I could see/feel cavities and I occasionally had pain in my molars, on top of the other things that dentist mentioned. But now I was even more scared because Denti-Cal wouldn’t pay for anything - including my cracked tooth, because it didn’t have any decay. I wish I'd come back for a cleaning and made her fill my cavities, even if I didn't trust her.

There were delays (COVID, having to repeatedly switch insurance providers, and then going back to college for two 18-unit semesters), but I made another appointment for this week and the results were … bad.

I need:

- a deep cleaning


- fillings in 10 teeth - including decay around the 8-year-old interproximal fillings in my front teeth


- a root canal in one of my maxillary first molars (#3) - the roots are at a 90 degree angle and I’m scared the dentist is going to mess up and I’ll lose the tooth


- a crown on the new root canal and the root canal I had done in 2014 (#4)


- both of my maxillary second molars extracted (the facial side is completely rotted and the dentist doesn’t think there will be enough tooth left to support a crown - and if there is, it will fail due to grinding. They’re not worth the effort and expense. The teeth are tilted so that the biting surfaces don’t meet their antagonists so I’m hoping I won’t miss them. All 4 of my wisdom teeth were surgically removed 17 years ago.)

The appointment was on Monday and I am so angry and remorseful. Every person I interacted with was kind and calm, and nothing they did in my mouth was painful or even uncomfortable enough to warrant 8 years of avoidance. I’ve always had a mouth full of fillings and my root canal is 10 years old. But the fact that I neglected myself so badly that I need 2 teeth that have been in my mouth for 20 years removed has made me feel like I’ve failed a fundamental test. I spent all day moping in bed, and I feel sick when I imagine eating food and how it’s going to rot my teeth, so I haven’t had anything but water and milk since Sunday. I might actually be able to use this feeling to cut soda out of my diet and reduce sugar - which is excellent because that's another thing I've needed to do for decades and haven't had the willpower for. I consume a LOT of sugar and acid ... and you can see it in my teeth.

I bought an electric toothbrush (it REALLY makes a difference, wow!), restoring mouthwash, more floss, and mini toothbrushes, so I’m going to be better from now on, but I’m just sick about how much damage I did through apathy. The appointment was pretty pleasant and why couldn’t I just brush and floss my damn teeth correctly? I feel so stupid. It’s like not bathing for years, then deciding to ignore visible infection until the skin is rotting off and needs a graft … I would NEVER do that so why did I do this?! :(
(Actually, I probably would have done that in the past. Damn.)

My main concern is: if I already have a deep bite, won't removing molars make it worse?? My upper teeth are straight with the exception of those 2 molars and have no crowding; my bottom central incisors are very slightly crowded, but I don't have teeth to spare anywhere.
 
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letsconnect

letsconnect

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Hi @takeheart, I took the liberty of moving this into the Ask a Dentist section because I didn't think that your main concern could be addressed in the Support section! If you like, I can now move it back there?
 
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takeheart

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Jun 22, 2022
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Location
Los Angeles
Thank you, @letsconnect! I didn't have that question in mind until after I'd posted in Support so I edited it in. I'm very happy a dentist answered! Thank you, @Gordon!

You can move it back :)

Nope. 2 molars won't matter.
Should I be concerned about the teeth under them? My mandibular second molars don't touch my maxillary first molars.
 
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Gordon

Gordon

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What are you concerned about particularly?
 
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takeheart

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Los Angeles
What are you concerned about particularly?
Over eruption of the lower second molars. Actually, I think the teeth do meet a bit, so that should be enough.

Either way, one of the teeth started throbbing a bit yesterday so I don't have much time. :(
 
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Gordon

Gordon

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Lowers tend not to over erupt, they are also likely to drift forward into space.
 
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takeheart

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Lowers tend not to over erupt, they are also likely to drift forward into space.
Thanks again, Gordon. So they're likely to move towards the midline of my face and cause crowding?

From what I've read, the upper second molars and the wisdom teeth are the only teeth that don't have much impact on your mouth if they're pulled. Thank you for responding to my fears; I'm feeling much better about my situation. I'll consider this a warning shot and take better care of my teeth from now on.
 
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Gordon

Gordon

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No. They'll tend to drift into space made by having your first molars removed but we're talking a few mm at most.
 
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takeheart

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I looked at my treatment plan and did some more research and realized I'm being treated for stage 2 perio as well. (I didn't understand what a scaling and root planing really was - I just thought it was being done because I hadn't had a cleaning in years, not because I have gum disease.) I have several 4-5mm pockets and one of the teeth they want to pull has a 6mm pocket.

I guess that's another sign I need to pull it ... There's probably bone loss, since the cavity is at the gum line and probably beneath it.

One of my mandibular second molars is brown at the gum line as well. The dentist just said "the same thing is starting to happen" there so I don't know how advanced it is and she didn't mention treating it or include it in the treatment plan. I'm afraid I've guaranteed my mouth is destroyed before I turn 50, all because I was too scared to go the dentist in my 20s and didn't care about my health or my future. I thought I had a couple of cavities. :(

I signed up for a dental savings plan that will go into effect in August so I can treat whatever Medicaid won't pay for. Everything is going to be fixed.
 
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Gordon

Gordon

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4-5mm of pocketing isn't too bad, once it's been treated it should be possible to maintain it with a little bit of effort on your part.
 
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takeheart

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One of the front tooth fillings has been upgraded to "probable RCT" and the RCT in #3 has been upgraded to "possible extraction".

The news gets worse every time I ask questions.
 
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takeheart

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Jun 22, 2022
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Location
Los Angeles
I had the first filling done today. It's fine. It was so fine I'm even more mad at myself for avoiding it for so long. Now the hard stuff is coming.

The dentist thought their visiting endo would be able to perform the root canal on my first molar, but the guy looked at my x-ray again and said he doesn't have the tools for it. So they referred me to a specialist who I'll have to pay out-of-pocket. I don't think I can afford to look for someone who will accept either of my insurance plans. I don't know if they'll be skilled enough to do the job, or if this one even is. The root is severely curved and I think ... I'll be very lucky if I get to keep this tooth. So disgusted with myself.
 
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takeheart

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Jun 22, 2022
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Location
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I'm working on the shame and remorse I've been feeling for the last 2 weeks. I keep calling my mom and crying on the phone and she tells me over and over again, "all of this can be fixed. We'll help you buy a fake tooth if you need one. This is COVID's fault, not yours!"

It's not really COVID's fault but I'm not going to insist, "No, it's all me! I chose to be gross and irresponsible for almost 8 entire years!"

I felt a little better when the dentist said she doesn't want me to feel too bad about needing those 2 teeth in the back extracted because they're hard for me to reach for cleaning (with the way they're angled, I can't even get my tongue back into the decayed area to wipe the food off!!) and they don't occlude anyway, so they're not much of a loss.

I'm having a hard time judging the severity of my situation and what I need to do to deal with this because she doesn't offer ANY information or advice unless I ask the right questions. And when I say something like, "I just want to keep the rest of my teeth," she responds with, "I know this is a difficult situation." So I think, "oh my god, things are so bad that she can't even downplay it or say anything to reassure me. I'm going to lose more teeth but she won't say it out loud! How badly have I damaged my mouth?? What else is she not telling me??" Then I come on this forum and read other people's stories and think, "my situation is really not that bad at all." Until I go back to the dentist and get bad news and cryptic remarks and get set off again. So I can't tell if I'm overreacting or not reacting enough. o_O I know she just wants to get in there and fix everything and get it crossed off the list - she's a dentist, not a therapist, but it's starting to bother me a great deal. :(
 
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F

Former member 33748

Former Member
@takeheart

I'm working on the shame and remorse I've been feeling for the last 2 weeks. I keep calling my mom and crying on the phone and she tells me over and over again, "all of this can be fixed. We'll help you buy a fake tooth if you need one. This is COVID's fault, not yours!"

It's not really COVID's fault but I'm not going to insist, "No, it's all me! I chose to be gross and irresponsible for almost 8 entire years!"

Are you me? It took me a good 4+ weeks to not feel overwhelming shame and remorse. I mean, it’s only been like two or so months since I found out I had gum disease, and I immediately had to schedule a bone graft surgery for my two bad pockets as soon as I found out. Now, some days are good, but I can’t stop thinking about it.

I had my husband tell his parents and sister (kinda regret that, but his sister is a dentist so I figured she’d put things together) bc I kept skipping dinners with them. And his mom had said “oh well sometimes that’s just genetic”. Ugh, no. I missed a lot of cleanings in my 20s bc I was poor and ignorant and didn’t know how to take care of myself. Can’t say that though!

I'm having a hard time judging the severity of my situation and what I need to do to deal with this because she doesn't offer ANY information or advice unless I ask the right questions.

That’s so annoying. I’m sorry that dentists just seem to be like that, at least in my experience. I haven’t even had the chance yet to tell my dentist that I didn’t know I had gum disease. Like no one could be bothered to tell me to not vape all these years. And I had to make lists of questions for my periodontist after my bone graft surgery.

I think we mainly have to focus on having an amazing home cleaning regimen, and have questions ready for them whenever we have appointments. It’s great that you have your mom to vent to.

Sorry to reply again haha but I woke up to a notification of your latest post. Felt like what I’ve been through and still going through.
 
letsconnect

letsconnect

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I had my husband tell his parents and sister (kinda regret that, but his sister is a dentist so I figured she’d put things together) bc I kept skipping dinners with them. And his mom had said “oh well sometimes that’s just genetic”. Ugh, no. I missed a lot of cleanings in my 20s bc I was poor and ignorant and didn’t know how to take care of myself. Can’t say that though!

Actually, your mother-in-law is correct, there is a strong genetic component to periodontal disease, even more so when it occurs at a younger age (rather than in middle age). Sure, great home care may have prevented it, but it's a pretty common problem. I've heard figures of 45-50% of all adults suffering from periodontitis mentioned.

So there's no need to beat yourself up over this! The key is to keep it in check now that you're aware of it. And luckily, both you and @takeheart found out at the early stages where it's easily dealt with :).

The EFP (European Federation of Periodontology) has a very good website with lots of information, tips, and clinical guidance. Their information for dental professionals is even better than the pages for patients (and it's publically accessible).

 
F

Former member 33748

Former Member
@letsconnect thanks for the info! I’ll try not to beat myself up so much, but it’s hard. I guess the genetic component makes sense when I see some people say they didn’t go to the dentist for time periods much longer than I missed, yet they didn’t end up with gum disease. Appreciate the response.
 
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takeheart

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Los Angeles
@letsconnect Thank you. It's good to know this likely would have happened even if I'd done all the right things.

I'm obsessing. Whatever. I looked in my mouth, took a picture from a different angle, and realized #4 is cracked pretty badly. That tooth was RCT'd 8 years ago and didn't get a crown for some reason. That explains why my treatment plan says "post and core" for that tooth in addition to a crown - I thought it might have been a mistake. I guess I'm going to lose half of that tooth and need it rebuilt. I wasn't told this, just "that root canal needs a crown." Awesome. Another possible extraction?

I still have no idea what's going on with #5, which has been cracked for at least 2 years. I see black in one of the lines on that tooth so that's another root canal + crown. Right now, best case scenario for me is losing one tooth on the upper right, and having the next 3 root canaled and crowned, so the only living teeth on that side will be my front 3! Wow, are my teeth even going to last until I'm 40? What the hell did I do to myself?

I'm giving up sugar and cutting down on carbs. I hate this so much. I have only THREE top teeth that are whole, healthy teeth. :( Well, I assume I do. I might have decay between all of my teeth that it's not bad enough to be a priority right now, so I wasn't told about it.
 
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J

jordan22

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Everett, WA
I don't want to sound like I'm glad that you feel this way, I'm so sorry you have to go through this, but you've put all my feelings into words and I really relate to your situation. I went a looooong time without going to the dentist, and now I'm 2 appointments in out of god knows how many to get all of this fixed up, and have an orthodontic consult that I'm absolutely terrified of. I know EXACTLY how you feel and I hate that we have to go through this. I have good days, and then I'll feel a twinge in my mouth and go straight back to feeling hopeless and ashamed that I'm 28 with a couple of root canals, a few deep fillings so like 5 crowns once all is said and done, another possible extraction on #15 if they can't pull off a root canal (I already had a molar pulled with one of my wisdom teeth a couple of years ago because it was completely sideways) and I had a deep cleaning done as well and will need more in the future. It sounds overdramatic, but it almost feels like getting diagnosed with a chronic illness or something, with all the money it costs, procedures that have to be done, and all the angst. I don't know if it helps knowing that someone else is in a similar boat, but I feel for ya. Hopefully we both make it out of this relatively unscathed.
 
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takeheart

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@jordan22 it is reassuring to know that other people are in the same situation for the same reasons! The consequences of mental illness: your past self punishing your future self for continuing to exist, hooray! It’s an awful situation and yeah, I guess it is like being diagnosed with chronic illness that will need monitoring and rehabilitation. why was I so scared of getting a cleaning and small cavities filled every 6 months? What an idiot i was. But when all you want to do is die, you’re not showing up for preventative care!

We’re even having some of the same problems. My #15 is a goner so that’s getting pulled. You’re only two appointments in. I hope all the work is done soon and your mouth is stabilized and pain- and decay-free! thanks for replying!
 
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