Posted 3/25/2014 10:49 PM (GMT -6)
Thanks, Diane, slowly recovering from all the extra pain and fatigue from my weekend adventure, today was about a 50% improvement from Monday, hopefully by this weekend, will be back to my "normal" levels, I am hoping. Yesterday was one of my worse days ever, just thankful I am mending from all of that. Hope you are ok.
Had a great visit with my new VA dental team. Spent 2 1/2 hours with them. First met with a dental nurse, she was sharp. As soon as she found out that I had had neck/throat radiation in the past, she said it was a major deal changer.
Then spent an hour with my assigned dentist. Only problem, was their x-ray super machine has been done for a week, so they were not able to do a panoramic set of x-rays. As soon as the machine is up, suppose to be tomorrow, they will call me by phone to have them done.
After a lengthy tooth by tooth examination, and this was no surprise to me, I do not have a single good tooth left in my mouth. For starters, 8 teeth are split from top to bottom, many others are riddled with cavities, and the rest are badly damaged from the back side. This is not counting all my missing teeth, or ones that have broken to the gum line or below. She said the radiation caused all of this, not improper tooth care, and she said my past 4 years use of opiates had little to do with it.
After she was through, I then spent an hour with the real expert, this dentist has 4 extra years of college, and is an expert with severe dental problems associated with radiation damage. He said it can be dangerous to simply have all the remaining teeth simply extracted and having dentures put into place.
Once he sees the x-rays, he said he will consult with a dental surgeon at the hospital in Columbia, and come up with a plan that will be safe for me. It's very complicated, and will involve 2-4 surgeries to accomplish it.
He said that the 70 gys of radiation I had in 2000, did all the damage. It causes a lot of nerve damage to the teeth, jaw bones, and gums, a combination of vascular damage - to where none of those are getting the proper amount of blood, causing serious level bone damage. Said the worse damage was on my left side, the side that got 50 gys of the 70. Less damage on the right side, which got 20 gys.
Some of the teeth will need to be cut below the gum line, instead of removing them, and then having root canals done to those. Some of the front teeth can be safely extracted. Then, full dentures will be made. He assured me, that in the private practice, would be looking at 10-15k worth of work, but being 100% VA disabled, it won't cost me a cent. Also, he said I would be put under for all of the work, so I didn't need to fear any pain in the process, except for some of the healing process.
He said my own private dental surgeon acted recklessly, in the extractions I had done last year. Even though that surgeon was fully aware of my past radiation issues. Said he could have done some serious harm to me.
All in all, it was a good visit, and I learned things (dental) that I never knew or had even heard of before. He spent a lot of time explaining some pretty complex terminology and procedures, so that I fully understood what he was attempting to do. He also used the time as training for the staff dentist and the nurse. They were all taking furious notes, trying to keep up with him.
Once this is all done, hopefully over the next 2 months, that will be one more major thing I won't have to be concerned about, and gee, I might actually learn to smile again. I was embarrassed to even have them look in my mouth, with all my broken and jagged teeth.
He said he wasn't surprised that I had little pain associated with this, as most of the nerves associated were long destroyed by the radiation years ago. Even when I have a took break apart, as I did a couple of weeks ago, it didn't hurt at all. Bled for a bit, but no pain whatsoever.
Feel I am on the right track with the dental stuff, and happy they had such a specific expert on staff to deal with these complexities.
So far, pretty happy with the quality of care I am getting with my local VA Outpatient Facility. They did tell me, that due to the serious nature of my dental problems, I am on the top of the list for treatment, and should not have any serious waiting periods for this work to be done.