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!