I was looking back at my blog archives from last year, and I realized that almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about the effects hyperemesis gravidarum had on my teeth. It’s very common for HG sufferers to have massive enamel erosion on their teeth, and I was not one of the lucky ones: almost every single tooth in my mouth needed work, with my back molars and top front teeth having the most damage. I started the process of repairing them last year, and it’s been a long, painful, expensive journey.
We’re lucky we have dental insurance, but our coverage maxes out at a pretty low amount (low for what I need, at least). Last year, we worked on the teeth that were in the worst shape at the time (my back teeth) because that’s what we could afford. Unfortunately, that meant that the problems with my other teeth just got worse, requiring more extensive (and expensive) work done.
At the end of last year I asked my dentist to lay out a complete treatment plan, and he mapped out what each procedure would cost now versus waiting a year. He completely understood cost restrictions and never pressured me, but was also very honest about the risks associated with waiting on some of the teeth. Oral infections can lead to all sorts of other health problems. Mike and I worked out a budget, I took on extra projects, and my dentist worked out a payment plan with us. In January, we started the work on the front teeth…and we are just now, at the end of May, finishing it.
My front teeth were in really, really bad shape. I was terribly self-conscious of how they looked, to the point where I wouldn’t smile with my teeth in some photos. The enamel was so eroded on a few of them that they were cracked and discolored. I had to see a specialist for a few procedures, but his team was so kind and gentle. I especially liked one of the specialist’s assistants because she’d had three HG pregnancies and also had terrible damage to her teeth. It made me feel a lot better to know she’d had the same experience.
The one benefit to the work I needed done on my front teeth was getting caps on some of them. It sounded so movie star-glamorous until I realized how painful that whole procedure was (and gross…the prepping of the teeth…yuck). My face was numb from my lips to my eyes (I couldn’t even close my left eye). Breathing through a numb nose was a very strange experience! Then, my gums swelled up so much that my dentist had to replace my temporary crowns…it was really, really unpleasant.
When I was being fitted for the caps, my dentist said that I could change them up and make them look however I wanted. I said, “On a scale of one to ten, I want these teeth to be Oprah.” My dentist looked at me and said, “How about we make them a little more realistic?” Damn him and his sensible ideas. So, we decided to even out the color, and straighten my softball-damaged tooth. This is how they look now:
I am really happy with how well they are healing. The swelling in my gums is mostly gone, and I no longer have pain when I eat/drink/breathe. And of course, I think they look as good as Oprah smells (I have it on good authority that she smells like rare flowers, wisdom, and $10,000 bills). I like that the caps blend in with my other teeth, although eating with them is taking some getting used to. I’m not afraid to show my teeth when I smile now.
I still have a few more teeth that need work, but it’s nothing emergent and my dentist doesn’t think anything will progress any time soon (but he’s monitoring everything regularly). On a scale of one to ten, I’m feeling pretty Oprah.