Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Melissa's Denture Story

Name: Melissa
Age: 31
Location: Canada
Marital Status: Married
Dentures: Yes

Tell us about yourself.

I am a 31 year old mother of three, just finishing up the process of getting my dentures. I never had perfect teeth, as a kid I wore a retainer to straighten them. It wasn't until I was pregnant with my second child that they started to take a turn for the worse. I really should have had them taken care of 12 years ago when they first started to deteriorate but I just could not afford it. Over the years I learned to live with my bad teeth until my husband convinced me to take the first step.

What caused you to need dentures?

Mainly genetics. My family has a long history of calcium deficiency, receding gums, and weakened enamel. Several women in my family have dentures, most got them at an early age.

How did you find your current dentist and why did you choose him/her?

I told myself a few years ago that I was going to eventually get all my teeth out and get dentures, but part of me never expected it to happen because I was afraid to actually go to the dentist...I was afraid they would try to convince me to "fix" my teeth instead. But my mother told me about her dentist...she spent some time talking to him about my situation and she convinced me to go talk to him myself...he was amazing, honest, funny, comforting...he really is nothing like I remember dentists being when I was a kid.

How much did/will the procedure cost?

From start to finish, initial consultation and x-rays, to full plates it will cost me almost $8000

What type of work will you have done?

I was given the choice to have my back teeth extracted and get a partial plate, then wait 6-8 weeks and have the rest of the teeth extracted and full plates done...OR have all my teeth extracted and get full plates after 6-8 weeks of healing. By the time I went in for my consultation my teeth were so bad I was practically on a soft food only diet so I opted for the full extraction right away. First I had my 10 back teeth extracted, then 2 weeks later my remaining 18 teeth came out. It has now been 6 weeks with no teeth and I have begun the process of creating the plates. I had my wax fitting today and am expecting to walk out of the office next week with a big smile on my face.

What were your feelings before getting dentures?

I was fully prepared to get dentures a long time ago, but part of me was worried about what people would think.

Have those feelings changed? If so, how?

During my post extraction healing process I have had a lot of time to think about what's going on...I was so worried before I started, but now I'm happy. I had very little self esteem with my natural teeth, but now, even with no teeth I find myself having more confidence...I can only imagine how great I'm going to feel once I have nice bright teeth again.

What type of challenges do you face?

At the moment I don't face any real challenges. But after being on a mush diet for so long I can imagine it's going to be interesting to actually eat real food again.

How does your partner feel about it?

My husband has been great about the whole thing. We first got together before my teeth started to deteriorate, he's been with me every step of the way. After years of watching me suffer and watching my self esteem fly away he told me to call the dentist...I tried making excuses about how we can't afford it but he told me we would make it work.

Describe your support system, if you have one.

My husband, my kids, my family...they have all been there for me every step of the way.

What is your care regimen?

On top of the usual oral hygiene routine, I have adjusted my diet...I realized that on top of my genetic problems, my diet probably didn't help my situation...so I have cut WAY back on the soda and sugar.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Welcome to iWear Dentures!

Welcome to iWear Dentures, a resource for current and potential denture wearers! 

My name is Kristi, also known as Kalinjax on YouTube. I have been a denture wearer since December of 2010.

At the age of 26, I had all of my teeth extracted due to severe tooth decay and received temporary dentures. Shortly after, I began documenting my experience on YouTube. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Jack's Denture Story

Name: Jack (real name withheld for privacy)
Age: 40
Location: New Port Richey, FL
Marital Status: Divorced
Dentures: No

Tell us about yourself.

I'm a 40yr old father of 3. I am starting fresh. After working in the "salt mines" I have taken a position as a Mortgage Broker, which involves a lot of sales, and a lot of interacting with people, which I am not used to. I have a construction background and people could care less what I look like because I got stuff done. In the business world, I need to "spiffy up my appearance".

What caused you to need dentures?

Years of neglect, I smoke, I drink soda and beer and have poor dental hygeine habits.

How did you find your current dentist and why did you choose him/her?

Haven't found one yet...looking for a referral.

What type of work will you have done?

I need full dentures.

What type of challenges do you face?

I need a dentist that will baby me. I am a giant wimp, need to be knocked out, do what they do and pay the bill.

How does your partner feel about it?

I have a large supportive family on minor issues. I have no confidante.

Describe your support system, if you have one.

Had the best dental care up to 32, and did all of the things they tell you to. In the past 8 years, I stopped going regularly. I brush everyday, just haven't gone for the drill and fill.

Any other thoughts?

I was really inspired by Kristi being so open and honest and need to work up the courage to get it done so I figured I would play along and see what comes from it. Looking for good Dentist and how much should it cost, I don't want to get ripped off.

Bad dentists shouldn't give good dentists a bad name....

So, this isn't going to be a very structured post or anything. No fun photos or clever one-liners or anything like that. This is just a totally random, spur-of-the-moment observation of mine. This happens often.

We are very, very vocal when our dentist gets it wrong. Face it, teeth are a sensitive issue on all fronts. Literally, they're in a sensitive area of our body. When they hurt, they hurt. They seem to be as expensive as children at times LOL! Thirty-two, expensive little children.... unless, you get all or some of them pulled.... so comparing them to children is probably a bad idea. But, you get it! I mean, teeth can be awesome when they're great but for those of us who have had less-than-great teeth, they can be a nightmare. Daily living is a nightmare. Contemplating going to the dentist can be a nightmare. But what's worse is dumping your purse (or wallet)......... (Or part of your retirement fund) out on the counter to pay for your teeth, only to have one problem after another..... THAT is a true nightmare. How many times have we followed up with a dentist, only for him or her to criticize the work in our mouth? The work we went broke over?

Flabbergasted. Right? I mean, totally and utterly speechless. What do you even say to that? It gets to the point that we don't know who to trust. Dentists, you have to understand that side of it. When you criticize each others work, you may know of different techniques that work better than others—we don't. So we don't know who to trust. We don't know who to believe.

But in their defense, I must speak up for the kindhearted, compassionate dentists out there that are blessing people with gorgeous smiles. Yes, I get a ton of "all dentists are crooks, they'll take what they can get from you!" messages. But you would be surprised at how many messages I get from people who speak of their dentists like they would their own family members!

I get it! I totally understand!

Dr. Davis, my dentist here in Jacksonville, came in on his day off to give me an adjustment to try and alleviate my anxieties only three days after I received my dentures. Dr. Golpa flew me out to Las Vegas under the assumption that a titanium bar was fractured, only to find out it was a loose abutment. These things stick with you.

I sympathize completely with the dental horror stories. I have totally been there! I've met with some really shady dentists before. They're like piranhas! But for every crooked dentist out there, there's probably 10 more that would treat you like their own family member.

How do we connect with those dentists?

Well, one of the problems that I am becoming more and more aware of is the communication barrier between patients and dentists. There is a HUGE disconnect that is really complicating things. Lots of misinformation, misunderstandings, miscommunications.... on BOTH sides of the fence.

As patients, we don't understand why you dentists charge an "arm and a leg" for services that may or may not hold up! We're not saying it's not legit, we're just saying that we genuinely don't understand the cost breakdown. I plan on elaborating on that in another post, that's a topic in and of itself. But really, I think if people were more informed on why things cost what they do, they may be more inclined to pay..... more..... assuming they have the money, of course. So I think a lot of people are skipping out on great dentists who charge more than the $800-out-the-door-hole-in-the-wall places and ending up with bad experiences and shifty dentures (literally lol)..... simply because they don't understand why dentists charge so much. After my experience with Affordable Dentures here in Jacksonville (remember, they are all different and some people have had great experiences at other locations) I have realized that it is worth it to hold off and save that extra little bit of money for a better quality set of dentures from a more experienced and skilled dentist. Many, however, don't realize that. They end up with an awful denture and a belief that all dentists are terrible, terrible people that would rob a bank if they could get away with it. Take that how you want. I'm being completely honest.

As skilled dentists, from what I understand, they get frustrated when we run off to these $800-out-the-door-hole-in-the-wall places, obtain a CRAZY denture that a five year old could construct with the right supplies, and then demand they fix it.... for as close to free as we can get it. They get frustrated when they go through extensive training for YEARS to understand the complexity of various oral conditions and here we come kicking in the door like, "Make me look like Megan Fox. Like, yesterday", when nothing about our mouth will ever resemble Megan Fox.... or Denzel Washington.... or Angelina Jolie.... Or Brad Pitt. Or whoever.

There is a disconnect. Big time.

The first step in solving a problem is to understand that there is a problem. I am here to tell you all: There. Is. A. Problem.

I hope that we can somehow begin to fix this problem. But for the time being, understand that not all dentists are awful. Not even most  dentists are awful. Most dentists actually are very compassionate. Contrary to what you may believe, they actually do get a kick out of seeing you smile. They find great satisfaction in knowing that, while you may have come into their office with a broken smile, you left with a renewed spirit. We need to give the good dentists a lot more credit. Changing a smile DOES change a life. We owe them many thanks for that.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Leonardo's Denture Story

Name: Leonardo
Age: 20
Location: Brazil
Marital Status: In a relationship
Dentures? Yes

Tell us about yourself.

Hi, I'm Leonard, a 20 year old college student.

What caused you to need dentures?

Well, I always had healthy teeth, but when I was 17, I suffered a car accident that made me lose most of the upper teeth and left over had to be extracted.

How did you find your current dentist and why did you choose him/her?

He is my dentist since I was a kid, so, when I had to wear denture, I preferred to continue with him.

What type of work will you have done?

For now, I have a complete upper set, but in future, I intend to do implants.

What were your feelings before getting dentures?

After the accident, I was very depressed, because I looked in the mirror and what I saw did not seem to me, I felt very weird without my teeth, had no desire to go out.

Have those feelings changed? If so, how?

Yes, they changed. After getting my denture, I was a little more confident, because, at least in appearance, I went back to look like me.

What type of challenges do you face?

It was very hard to adapt myself to eat and speak with the denture, but now I have no problems with this.

How does your partner feel about it?

My girlfriend was very understanding when I told her about my denture, she is great.

Describe your support system, if you have one.

My family and my closer friends are very supportive.

What is your care regimen?

I soak my denture overnight and brush them in the morning and after every meal.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Scarlett's Denture Story

Name: Scarlett (real name withheld for privacy)
Age: 26
Marital Status: In a relationship
Dentures? No

Tell us about yourself:

I'm an Animal Care Techinician working in the companion animal healthcare industry. I have a wonderful boyfriend and a little rescue dog.

What caused you to need dentures?

I remember going to the dentist as a kid; mainly bad experiences (for both my sister and I) as the dentist, though specializing in pediatric dentistry, was not kind, compassionate or attentive to the needs of his patients. At one point during an extraction when my sister (around age 7 at this time) told them she was not completely numb, he screamed at her (audible into the waiting area) and then stabbed her quite hard with the lidocaine needle. She began screaming, at which point my mom ran into the room to comfort her, and other patients left the office with their children altogether.
I also said something I was doing at school "stinks", and the dental assistant preparing my enameling trays told me that "stinks" is a swear word, and that I would get into trouble for saying it. I was nearing 12 years old...

In a separate incident, one of the dental assistants (preparing for one of my sister's extractions) numbed the wrong side of her mouth. Thank goodness my sister spoke up as the dentist was beginning!

We continued to use his small practice because they were accepted by my dad's insurance. However, due to finances and the fact that my mom often thought she knew better than the dentist, we went without some of the things that we needed for oral hygiene (braces, regular cleanings, etc). I don't recall seeing the dentist at all between the ages of 12 and 14. At age 14-15, I went to a new dentist who performed a very painful dental exam on me (actually poked a pinhole into my tooth), prescribed a special (expensive) enamel-building fluoride toothpaste, and told my mom I had the potential for cavities between every single one of my teeth. That was the last dental exam I ever had.

(My dental issues are mostly due to genetics and lack of routine dentistry. My mother had extensive work done all her life and has very sensitive teeth. My father is 55 and hasn't been to the dentist in 20+ years. Deals with abcesses on his own and is missing nearly all of his front teeth. My younger sister has several broken molars, several cavities, several fillings and has not seen a dentist in 7 years. We all brush and floss regularly.)

My wisdom teeth came completely in before I was 16 years old and began crowding, causing breakage and a slow overlap of my two front teeth. The first hole I had in a tooth was when I was 15, caused by chewing on a pen cap in class.

Since that time, though I take good care of my teeth, things have gotten progressively worse. I had not seen a regular dentist in 12 years.

Last week I had enough and after FINALLY getting decent dental coverage to where I can actually afford to have the work done that I need, I made an appointment for a comprehensive exam and treatment plan.

As of right now, root canals are too expensive for me to afford as I would need 7 of them. I'm still considering my options, but since RTC's are off the table, I need 11 extractions... all my molars, which will be replaced by flexible upper & lower partials. Only one affected tooth is barely visible in my smile line, and it has already broken off at the gumline so it's not a huge loss to me.

Most of my front teeth and bicuspids need fillings and a couple are fine, but all the rest have to go due to their various states of decay.

I can't say I wasn't expecting it, but I didn't have any choice except to wait until I could afford it.

How did you find your current dentist and why did you choose him/her?

I did a provider search with my current insurance company and then read the reviews online and on Facebook, in addition to the "smile makeovers" they posted from their clients in my area. Affordability and financing were secondary options since I knew the cost would be extensive even with insurance.

How much did/will the procedure cost?

I currently have two options:
  • Option one is with 7 root canals + extractions + fillings + partials = $12,000+
  • Option two is with all extractions + fillings + partials = $3,000+

What type of work will you have done?

I will likely opt for extractions of the diseased teeth only, fillings for the ones that need them, and flexible upper and lower partials to replace my molars.

What were your feelings before getting dentures, if it applies?

Embarrassment. Discomfort.

My parents told me as a kid that if I didn't brush my teeth I'd end up having all my teeth taken out and having to get dentures / never smile again / be ugly / look old.

It was a thing of shame in my family. And yet, my parents didn't believe in regular dental cleanings and care, or the prescription toothpaste I needed to ensure I had the healthy adult teeth I could have had today.

Have those feelings changed? If so, how?

The more research I do, the more I see this as replacing the functional teeth I could have.

As it currently stands, I cannot chew properly, eat nuts, granola (my favorite). I can't chew chips or crunchy things, EVERYTHING gets stuck in my teeth, and I haven't taken a bite out of an apple since 2009 when I broke one of my teeth by doing so.

There is a constant fight against plaque building up in and on the damaged teeth, and keeping my breath fresh (a bigger deal to me than the chewing). Daily flossing is maddening and painful.

Even though I'll have to "relearn" how to chew... once I relearn it, I'll actually be able to do it. What a small but essential accomplishment!

What type of challenges do you face? Share any strategies you might have for handling these problems.

I'm afraid of the bone loss that will occur with time. I'm 26, about to get engaged (we picked out the ring!) and children are in our eventual future. I understand there is a toll taken on teeth and bone during pregnancy in addition to normal aging.

I don't want to need bone grafts to support dental implants should that become a necessity in the future. Also, where will my state of bone loss be in 20 years... 30 years... 40 years?

How does your partner feel about it?

He's very supportive and probably more positive about this than I am. Being a hockey player for all but 5 years of his life, he thinks it's "cool" that the one tooth I've lost in my smile line would be a great "she lost it in a hockey fight!" story. Smh...

Describe your support system, if you have one.

My boyfriend is incredibly supportive. My dad thinks it's ridiculous that dentistry costs this much and nothing else can be done. I'm sure he'll 'support' me though. My sister is supportive but completely terrified by dentistry in general and prefers not to listen to my gross extraction stories. :)

What is your care regimen, both at home and dental visits?

Brush twice per day with Sensodyne Pronamel, rinse twice per day with Sensodyne Pronamel mouthwash, floss nightly. I also rinse my mouth out regularly after I eat.

Do you have any favorite products?

Anything by Sensodyne, Temparin by Dentek (a lifesaver!), Kanka brush-on application, Anbesol

Please share any other thoughts or relevant information you may have.

Does anyone have flexible partials for their molars only? How do they fit? Do the bottoms move around in your mouth a lot? The last thing I want to do is something permanent that I'll hate!