The Before and After Pics are back from LVI and I thought I would take a minute to post them for those who asked, and try to answer some FAQ that I've gotten since I started this journey, which I think is almost over. These "after" pics were taken immediately after the 2nd procedure, so my entire mouth is still numb, hence the "compressed" looking smile. Drumroll:
Now, some of the questions I've fielded:
Q1. I know it was expensive. Will you tell me how much it cost?
Q2: Will you give me a ballpark?
A: Wrigley Field.
Q3: No, seriously. I'm thinking about getting it done.
A: Refinance your house expensive.
Q4: Did it hurt?
A: The procedure, no. The recovery- like a M-r F-r!
Q5: What was the worst part?
A: The sensitivity after the procedure. It is slowly going away.
Q6: Why did you have to go to Las Vegas to get it done? Couldn't you find a dentist in a big city like Houston?
A: Dr. Mitchmore is from Houston. He travels to LVI for continuing education. LVI isn't an undergraduate dental school- it's for advanced dental studies. He prefers to work on his own patients, and my case fit the protocol that they were studying. He asked me to go, so I did.
Q7: Were there any complications?
A: No serious ones. He warned me about the risk of sensitivity at first, and it was well warranted! But it is slowly going away, which he said it would. And he is helping me manage it with special toothpastes, etc. There was one crown that came unseated, which is not uncommon and I've had that happen before- the bond got tainted by saliva. It just get "glued" back in. And when he reviewed the post-op xrays, he discovered one crown that didn't seat to his satisfaction, so he removed it and took an impression for a replacement.
Q8: How long did it take?
A: I first saw Dr. Mitchmore in August. He fitted an orthortic in September to begin the bite adjustments. We went to LVI in November, and then again in December. There will be several more bit adjustment appointments, but I suspect they will be done by February or March. So, about 6 months total.
Q9: Why did you decide to do it?
A part 1: My teeth were giving me more and more trouble. I had several bad crowns placed by a crappy dentist that were throwing my bite off. One had broken. I had many old amalgam fillings from childhood, and when I laughed with an open mouth (and I love to laugh) all those old grey fillings showed. There were several places where the spaces between teeth had started collecting "stuff", and I literally had to carry dental floss to get crap out of my teeth anytime I ate anything. Most alarming to me, I was developing "notches" in the lower teeth along the gum line that I could literally identifiy with my thumbnail. I was afraid if they kept deepening, the teeth could eventually break off. And, I had sensitivity that was worsening.
A part 2: On my first visit to Dr. Mitchmore, he used a video camera on the end of a dental instrument to give me a video tour of my own mouth. It was eye opening, to say the least! He showed me the old fillings, which had actually turned from silver to dark grey. They were leaking, causing the teeth around them to decay and discolor. He showed me the notches along the gumline, which were caused by acid eroding the teeth at a point where they should have been covered by the gums. And he showed me the way the lower teeth were collapsing toward the tongue, causing the gumline to pull away from the teeth and allowing this vulnerable part of the tooth to be exposed to acid and wear. He explained that he could reset the bite to stabilize the lower teeth, and then replace all the crowns and amalgams with porcelain to protect the teeth permanently. 75% of the work was repairing outdated or poorly done dentistry. The additional porcelain veneers (the least painful part) were simply to make it all beautiful and white.
Q10: Would you do it all again?
A: Luckily, I won't ever have to, because the work is permanent and won't stain or discolor, ever. But yes, if I had to make the decision again, absolutely. My teeth are prettier, my mouth feels so much cleaner, and I no longer worry that someday my teeth are going to break off! I find myself smiling and laughing more than I ever have! Yes, absolutely, I would do it again in a hearbeat!