Tuesday, January 12, 2010
The Awful Tooth
I woke up this morning for the second day in a row with pain in my jaw, but only on one side. My mom has a lot of problems with grinding and clenching her teeth in her sleep, so I know how to recognize the symptoms. I had to wonder if I do the same thing. I've been pretty stressed out lately, and that's one factor that causes you to grit your teeth in your dreaming hours, for sure.
My teeth have always been really healthy, so pain in my mouth or jaw generally sends up a red flag to me. Now, I am not the most religious flosser. Or brusher, for that matter. I have a tendency to be a lazypants and swish with Listerine instead of a full scrub before bed. I tend to only brush once a day. Matt is constantly having to remind me to brush my teeth. And also check my blood sugar. Can you tell I always have larger matters on the brain? It's no wonder I suspected that I'm grinding my teeth down in anguish.
I finally broke down and called a dentist today. They had a cancellation and were amazingly able to work me in right before lunch. I had no idea what to expect, but I've never gotten nervous when going into the dentist. It just doesn't bother me. Maybe I've been lucky enough to have good dentists all my life? The staff girls were all very pleasant, also cute in their brightly colored matching scrubs. Joyce was to be my hygenist for the day, a cheery woman about my mom's age who was quick to crack wise. She even described herself as a "tooth nerd". It was adorable.
A whole series of x-rays, picking, flossing and polishing later, I got the news. My teeth looked pretty spectacular...from the outside. Meanwhile, I have never had a cavity in my entire life, and now, nearly 28 years into my life, I guess I'm making up for it. With 5 of them. I'm scheduled to get one filled next week. It's the worst of them, my dentist is hoping she won't find a need for a root canal. The rest are little matched pairs between my molars. They'd almost be cute if they weren't annoying.
The good news was that there were absolutely zero diabetes-related mouth issues. Nothing aside from the cavities looked out of the ordinary to them.
So a few years with no symptoms, nothing bothering me, and BAM! Tooth decay. All it took was some simple screenings, and now I need to make 3 more trips to the dentist's office for them to fix up what's wrong.
What I find scary about this is that it's been well over a year since my last series of lab tests for diabetes. I keep hoping and hoping for the best. I had years where my control has been not much better, and I was happily coasting along, relying on the sturdiness of my own body. I go to my endocrinologist (finally) in February, right before my birthday. I have a full lab workup scheduled, complete with 24-hour urinalysis. (My favorite! Ugh.) So now I am hoping and praying that I don't discover any other unpleasant surprises due to my inattentive attitude. I mean, I certainly don't feel like I have any problems that I couldn't solve with more exercise or maybe eating a few less carbs. I just hope that my gut feelings are right on this one.
Otherwise, I will be dealt at least a huge emotional, if not physical, blow. I can get by with some little holes in my teeth. They can be fixed. Some damages are irreversible, and I know I will have a hard time coping. I feel guilty enough as it is that I could have brushed my teeth more, or flossed more, or just visiting a freaking dentist 2 years ago when I finally had dental insurance.
2009 was a good year, but a good year I spent kind of ignoring my diabetes in a serious way. I am looking to make 2010 much different. Especially because I don't know what's lurking under the surface.
I know it's not the gum disease known as gingivitis.