I have been very hesitant in publishing this post. Not only do I feel that a lot of my posts are quite depressing, it involves a part of my body that I have always been very self conscious about. When asked if I would ever have plastic surgery the only thing that I would ever have done is to this part of me. It is my TEETH! Ever since my adult teeth came in I have not been overly fond of them. Every dentist I have seen has always commented on how small my teeth are, like a child's. The tooth to the right of my big tooth grew in as a peg so I have always had to have a cap over it. The second tooth to my left big tooth is still a baby tooth and looks terrible. Rarely will you see a picture of me smiling with my teeth showing. Silly yes, but very real to me.
So with that background you may understand why the complications I have suffered with my teeth are slightly devastating to me. In January 2011, seven months before diagnosis, I was outside shovelling the ton of snow that had fallen on my walk the night before. I had to shovel myself out of the house to get to work. Well in true Jocelyn fashion, I somehow managed to slip and catch the shovel with my two front teeth (really, I should not be allowed to operate any kind of tool, I am the worlds biggest klutz...well maybe my sister is). As soon as I took a breath of cold air the pain hit. I had managed to chop, not chip, both front teeth in half. I got myself together and made a call to a dentist near work and they agreed to see me right away.
The dentist fixed my two front teeth beautifully and did an examination of the rest of my mouth. She was interested to note that some of my gums were receding and felt that it was quite unusual for someone my age. She booked me in to have my gums sealed and sent me on my way. Just three appointments and my benefits were used up!
Fast forward twelve months. I went to see a new dentist here near where I live with a few complaints. I had noticed that my teeth felt "soft" and that my gums continued to recede. I also had some mild pain in my teeth. I have to say that the dentist was wonderful. He took one look in my mouth and had me sit up. He knew that I had always attended the dentist regularly and had never had a cavity in my life. He knew something was up and wanted to know what had been going on. I explained my entire story and we went through all the meds I was on at the time. He then proceeded to tell me that I had some serious damage to my teeth. About eight cavities, serious gum receding, a rotten baby tooth and that the peg tooth under the cap was decaying. I would have to have fillings, gum repair, two teeth pulled and two crowns put in. I was shocked. How could all of this had happened in only twelve months? He explained that diabetes does take a toll on a persons teeth as fluctuating blood sugars and the use of man made insulin effects them. However he said that it usually is a very slow process that can be managed with regular check-ups and work. He felt that going undiagnosed had taken a serious toll on my teeth. Also I was on a very high dosage of Neurontin for my nerves at that time and he said that Neurontin can actually rot the teeth. Great. In trying to fix one problem another one had been caused.
The dentist laid out my treatment plan to get my teeth back into shape...fifteen appointments were scheduled. I attended my first appointment, was frozen to the eyeballs and had some work done on my top right gums and teeth. During my second appointment he finished the work that he had started in the previous appointment and filled one of the eight cavities. I went to check out and was stopped by the receptionist. I owed $280! I had never thought much about how much all of the work was going to cost and was stunned to see that I had already burned through my coverage. I asked them if they could give me an estimate of how much it would be to get all of the work done. They advised it would be anywhere from $8,000 to $12,000 of work. They confirmed that Alberta Health won't cover my dental costs even though the damage was as a result of my disease. I cancelled my remaining appointments and left in tears.
That day was a bad one. I was mad, so damn mad. I really felt at that moment the world was against me. I had been through hell in a period of six months and felt like I had been punched in the stomach once again.
It won't be long until December comes and my coverage kicks in again. I will return and see what is desperately needed to be done and then wait it out again. My teeth bug me on a daily basis, but the pain is not too bad. I am worried about the two teeth that need to be removed and have crowns put on as they bug me the most, but unfortunately those are the most costly.
Those who know me well know that I smile...a lot. But I make a point now to never show my teeth. It is a complication that I did not expect but now that I have done a lot of reading about it, it is quite common for people with Type 1 diabetes to suffer with teeth problems. Is it fair? Not at all. There is not much I can do about it at this point so I try not to stress over it too much.