Momma Told Me: Extra Isn't Always Better- A Tooth Story

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Extra Isn't Always Better- A Tooth Story

Momma Told Me: Out of sight....out of mind.

I'm the first to admit I avoid medical practitioners like the plague; in fact, if I put in as much effort maintaining my own health, as I do avoiding, I'd likely be the picture of health. I could speculate this goes back to the numerous visits I spent alongside Momma, at 4, when she battled Hodgkins Lymphoma, in and out of cancer wards. Regardless, I settled on an overall self-improvement last year and began seeing a general physician, updated my prescription with the optometrist, and invested in Dental Insurance.  As it turns out, about 5 weeks ago I happened to be feeling around with my tongue and noticed 2 uniform pits in my lower molars, opposite each other. As you can imagine I found several reasons, over the past month, to avoid making an appointment. Thankfully, I knew better than to wait until the problem had advanced to an emergency, and took the plunge last week.

This morning, at 10 am, I went into my first dentist's appointment since high school. Naturally, nervous beyond belief, I arrived a prompt 30 minutes early, and was seen ahead of schedule. As soon as my bum hit that consultation chair and the click of the X-Ray could be heard I knew what I was in for. The dental assistant scrunched her face, peering at the monitor,

"What's this?" she wondered aloud as she pointed to a white shadow off to the right.

I didn't entertain her inquiry with a response, though I knew the answer quite well. A second, lower, round of X-Rays revealed my secret. There, just below my lower right pre-molars was a tooth; an extra tooth.

"That's rare!" the assistant exclaimed with excitement, while I simultaneously thought, 'Yay me', sarcastically.

I knew all too well the sort of dental advice I would be hearing next. I had been made aware of the growing tooth in high school, when I'd had all 4 Wisdom Teeth extracted. I'd had the option to have the extra tooth then (advised that it would, inevitably, some day, require removal). I could have had the tooth gone while I was 'under' for the surgery; and on my parents dime none-the-less. But I was terrified enough of the upcoming procedure and fancied even less to add an extra hole to my mouth at that date. Now, 10 years later, my forgotten tooth was staring me in the face.

It turns out those two holes that had initially brought me in were caused, according to the dentist, by grinding my teeth (also a known condition). While I'd have sworn there were fillings in those holes prior, the ultimate cause is likely agitation from grinding. But that's not what the dentist wanted to talk about, oh no- we were going to discuss my lovely gift; the extra tooth. She sat down and began quite seriously,

" If you were my family member, I'd advise you to consult an Oral Surgeon regarding removal of this tooth immediately."

My heart fluttered at the word 'surgeon', that hardly sounded pleasant or cheap. I was then educated on the positioning of my extra tooth (which I can actually feel through a big bulge on the inside of my gums, tongue-side). It seems that, like most extra teeth, this tooth was compromising the integrity of the nerves from the teeth around it. Dark shadows on either side of the tooth could indicate imminent infection. Once the spare tooth breaks through to a nerve bundle it's all down-hill; infection, root canal, loss of both teeth. I knew better than to feel 'special'.

Out the door today, with insurance, I paid $678 for the filling of my holes, an additional cavity filling, and a nightguard molding (with cost of nightguard). The nightguard alone would have been $510 without insurance, and the 'fillings' $250/piece; so I at least feel satisfied with my $18/month investment (basic dental insurance plan). I have, in fact, requested an Oral Surgeon contact me for a consult regarding my extra tooth, but am not in any hurry to receive that call. It was good while it lasted- but I knew I couldn't escape my little friend forever!  Have you ever known anyone with 'extra' adult teeth?

What Daughter Says: Sometimes the things we fear most come true from an avoidance of basic maintenance. It's better to be aware and prepared than in ignorant bliss!


14 comments:

  1. I see it all the time. Feel free to contact me if you need any advice!

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  2. Oh my goodness! I sure hope that the extraction is nice and easier than it sounds and maybe your other teeth will feel better somehow when it's all done and it will be some unexpected surprise :)

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  3. I know it is these types of rare occurrences is nothing people really want especially when it will cost money instead of making money for for them . Sorry to hear but once taken care of then your back to normal.

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  4. I have been wearing a mouth guard for the reason that I clench my teeth excessively at night. I was wearing one that was very pliable but I guess the stress that I have been under that last year and a half was expressing it harder. It has caused all sorts of tooth sensitivity. I just paid over 500 for my fourth mouth guard and I will be going in for a crown due to a cracked tooth.
    I am a total dentiphob but I go religiously every six months. It is expensive but I guess I am lucky right now because my husband has dental insurance for both of us. so hopefully they will pay for some of this.

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  5. That surgeon word is scary. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

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  6. aww sorry to hear that! hope you recover fast!

    xo,
    Sandy
    Sandy a la Mode

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  7. First time I've seen it and heard about it. I'm sorry but I think it's kind of cool. :) I'm sorry for the troubles it has caused you though.

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  8. Personally, I think you need to invest in some different dental insurance. That doesn't seem to cover near what ours does. My husband has had several fillings and we have a surplus in our account and never pay anything.

    Secondly, I have had a few family members who have had extra teeth removed. I hate that for you. But look on the bright side, better to have too many teeth than not enough, right?

    Good luck with your impending surgery. I had my wisdom teeth cut out when I was 12 and 2 cavities and that is all I have ever had. I wish you some of my luck. :)

    Dawn

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  9. Wow, that is kinda scary. It reminds me of the time my daughters adult teeth came in and her baby teeth hadn't fallen out yet. I thought I was raising a shark baby . Hope it all turns out ok!

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  10. My dental insurance is $23 a week for my fiance and I and it does not cover TMJ OR teeth grinding. We tried to go through medical but Medical refuses to cover either because it is a "dental problem". I had to pay $500 out of pocket for my nightguard! It fits but it is so thick I drool alot wearing it. I bought a cheap one at the store for like $20 that works the same, although im sure it will wear out much sooner than the professionally made one!

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  11. Wow - what a cool photo, and love the title of your post.

    My Dad has had a couple extra teeth that grew in on their own.

    One of my molars didn't come in until I was 28, so Im glad I had space for it and it wasn't painful. Teeth are so interesting but I really do fear the dentist and most of my experiences with dentists have gone badly with the quality of care. I'm always thinking they are out to make the extra buck and I swear that most don't do as good as a job as they should.

    One of my top 3 most painful moments was getting a tooth pulled about 2 years ago. The roots were extremely long and twisty...I cannot believe it did not break on the way out.

    Good luck on your extra tooth.

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  12. @Dawn, I know someone who pays over $30 a month for dental and just had near $5k in expenses to fill some cavities and repair crowns! I know all dental plans are different, but for a divorced homemaker, this is the best I can do right now- and it's certainly better than paying double! Looks like this tooth is close the the inside o my mouth, surface,so I'm hoping it will be a fairly simple surgery (will keep updated).

    @Crunchy, I've seen some horror pictures of children's teeth from crumbling to double sets- I can't imagine how scary that must be for kids and parents....though I seem to remember handling the dentist better as a child...maybe it was the promise of ice cream after!

    @Diane, Insurance is so overwhelming in general. For the longest time I could afford insurance, but avoided it because all the plans seemed to vary so much, for just a couple pennies here and there/month. I am glad my insurance covers the TMJ/grinding, but I'm not sure how well I'll adapt tot the night guard!

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  13. Wow that is rare, and I can imagine feeling overwhelmed with it. I avoid medical situations too, but it always ends badly for me.

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  14. That was so expensive! We should start taking care of ourselves more, so we can avoid getting medical bills as high as this. Who would've thought that teeth filing would cost almost $700? If we just take extra care of our health and wellness, I'm sure we can avoid these kinds of things.

    Caitrin Femia

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