I’m depressed about my teeth. I need advice from someone who cares. At a young age, I started having extreme problems with my teeth because our family was poor and rarely had insurance. My teeth were crooked and bucked. I also had lots of cavities and toothaches.
As a teenager, I had several root canals. Dentists who didn’t care did much of the work. One dentist started a root canal on a front right tooth but didn’t complete it because we lost our insurance and couldn’t afford it. There was a hole in the back of the tooth, and the tooth eventually turned gray and broke in half. I was 19 years old, had no money, and had a broken front tooth. It was devastating for my self-esteem.
I found another dentist within 12 miles of our house, and I rode the bus to the office and cried to him about my teeth. He agreed to help me. My front teeth were crooked, so the dentist did a bridge to replace the broken tooth and make the crookened ones look better.
When I got married at age 25, we finally had insurance. There were so many issues with my teeth that it was challenging to keep up with them. My left front tooth became abscessed, so the dentist did a new bridge that extended from one eye tooth to the other. Then two years later, I needed a bottom ridge. Between that, I still needed root canals and crowns.
Last year, a toothache in a bottom left tooth started to become intense. Another dentist was filling in for my regular dentist, and she said that an abscess was forming on a tooth that had a root canal, and I had a sinus infection. She gave me antibiotics and referred me to an endodontist. The endodontist said that he didn’t see a problem. I returned to my dentist, who agreed that she couldn’t find anything wrong. Sounds suspicious, right?
I still have a toothache in the bottom left tooth. Sometimes the pain is intense but goes away. I didn’t have any pain throughout the winter, and then it came back about three weeks ago. I felt like I had an earache, so I went to my primary care doctor. She examined my ear and said it’s okay. My husband recently lost his job, so we received help from the state and state-sponsored insurance. It’s so difficult to find a dentist who cares.
I finally found a dentist who saw me for less than ten minutes and said I have TMJ. He said that I needed a $400 mouthguard, and other than that, there was nothing he can do. Although I might have TMJ, I have a failed root canal that no dentist can find. I’m convinced that one dentist saw the problem, and the rest either can’t see or don’t want to be bothered.
The pain feels like a horrible earache that extended into my jaw, throat, and chest. Sometimes I feel stabbing pain. I don’t have a fever, and my primary care doctor said that my bloodwork shows ho sign of infection. I’m depressed and worried about what can happen if a dentist isn’t able to find the infection. On top of that, I’m embarrassed to smile. At 35 years old, I have missing, chipped, and cracked teeth that look terrible. And the two bridges look like someone set them in my mouth without trying to make them look halfway natural. I’ve thought about taking the bridges out, but I’m afraid of damaging my teeth and being toothless.
I’ve also thought about dentures, but my husband and friends say that’s a bad idea because it would cause even more problems. I’m sorry for emptying my life’s story on you, but I almost feel hopeless. I was so happy when I found Dr. Brooksher’s website. I’ve looked at most of the pages on it, and it seems like your office cares about people and how they feel about their teeth. Do you think I should get my teeth all pulled out and accept whatever happens? Thanks for your help. Ryleigh from MS
Like you, many people have teeth that seem to fall apart faster than a dentist can restore them. We know it’s discouraging to you, but it also concerns a dentist who cares. Although some dentists don’t care, many of them do. They are not dentists for the money; they became dentists to help people.
From your description, it seems that you’ve seen dentists who care but are also discouraged by seeing your situation. Some might judge your situation and think that your oral health condition means that you don’t care, so they might not care either. We are confident that you can find and understanding dentist who is willing to help you without extracting all your teeth and giving you dentures. What can you do to improve your oral health and find a dentist to help?
Stop the Cycle of Tooth Decay
Practicing good oral hygiene is one step in preventing tooth decay. But other factors can help.
- Toothbrushing – Although many people think that toothbrushing is the best way to prevent tooth decay, toothbrushing only cleans the smooth surfaces of teeth. It doesn’t clean cracks, crevices, contact points, and other areas that are vulnerable to decay. Liming what you eat, discussed below, prevents decay more than toothbrushing does.
- Flossing – Multiple scientific studies show that flossing helps prevent gum disease and interproximal (between the teeth) decay.
- Saliva – The greatest defense is in your saliva. Saliva contains decay-fighting antibodies and remineralizes small spots of decay in teeth. If you strictly limit the number of times you eat each day, it will maximize your saliva’s effectiveness.
Limit What You Eat
Limit eating to three times a day—three main meals and two snacks. Brush your teeth two to three times a day, and floss between your teeth before bedtime. Limiting how often you eat daily gives saliva time to repair the small spots where decay begins. Most people who reduce the number of times they eat daily also reduce the number of cavities and their growth rate. People who are strict about it can be cavity free eventually.
Don’t give up. Keep looking for a dentist. Call offices and ask if you can get an office tour or meet the staff and dentist. When you find an office and dentist that makes you feel comfortable and isn’t overwhelmed by your oral situation, start a treatment program with them.
Find a dentist who will try to save—not extract—your teeth. And keep as many teeth as possible. Bone shrinks where teeth are missing. And the only way to prevent shrinkage is by replacing the missing tooth with a dental implant. Keep in mind that dentists who do a lot of sedation dentistry are used to seeing people with “bombed-out mouths” and tend to be more empathetic.
Steven Brooksher, DDS, of Baton Rouge sponsors this post.