Tag Archive: Maxilla

Me again. I haven’t written in some time because I’ve been recovering from major oral surgery about 2 weeks ago. I’m still in pain, but it’s much better than what it was earlier. I’m excited and yet depressed. It feels as if that every step taken by the doctors to make me look more ‘normal’ also make me uglier in the process.

So what happened? I had all of the remaining teeth in my upper jaw (all five and a half of them) extracted. I then had four dental implants placed, two to a side,  in the places vacated by the teeth. I’m toothless on top, basically. I wanted to cry when I looked at myself in the mirror once I was feeling better. I thought I looked like a monster. I was in tremendous pain, my face was swollen all over, and I could barely eat anything. All I could think of at the time was ‘how could I let them do this to me?’

When you come down to it, this was for the best. It was the best option available for me. I am praying that the implants take  and prove to be viable. I am presently wearing a denture as an intermediary step before the final procedure, and that has been a sobering experience. I’m learning to chew properly for the first time. I’m learning how to speak with it in my mouth. It’s awkward for me and uncomfortable, but it’s what I have to deal with right now. I feel embarrassed. I am so scared that somehow it will come loose when I’m talking or eating, and I would just die of shame if it did. I’m not even forty, and I’m in dentures.

Oh, I should be grateful, yes. I should be damned glad I could get this covered, that the insurance decided not to screw me over and cover this. I have spent my whole life aching to be normal and fit in. I don’t have to wear that ancient, broken retainer anymore, a retainer that was easily over 10 years old and not supposed to last that long. I had no choice, though. I’m glad this is done, though. I’m closer to my goal. In a few months I’ll go back to the oral surgeon and he’ll screw in the implants, and I’ll have a solid, removable bridge that won’t fall apart like that sorry retainer.

There are upsides to all of this. I can smile without feeling like a moron anymore.


Hole in my head


Image via Wikipedia

In writing these particular posts, I am revealing a great deal of personal information to the public, but part of my reason for doing so is to help educate others in understanding certain kinds of medical issues. I’ve touched on my birth defect in previous posts, but I’d like to share some of my recent experiences with you and how it has altered my perceptions of myself. Now, I’ve come to learn that I have what’s called a bilateral cleft palate, meaning the cleft does not just run up through one nasal cavity, but both. I originally thought this cleft ran vertically up through my nasal cavity up to the corner of my left eye, and that was it. It was significant, but that’s what I thought it all was. Ah, the wonders of modern technology!  Last month, I went for a CT scan of my skull, as part of preparation for my upcoming dental surgery to fix my  teeth. When I went to review them with the dental surgeon, I was in for a tremendous surprise. I have almost NO upper jaw left. The cleft also ran through the roof of my mouth, practically splitting it in half. I could not believe what I was looking at on the computer screen. I was looking at my own skull, and there’s this huge….HOLE in the middle of my face. Now, let me add that this cleft was only on the inside, that there was no break in the skin on the outside. Instead of bone, there was just a mass of gum tissue. My upper jaw is the size of a child’s, and I’ve lost almost all the teeth up there, not from poor hygeine, but from the lack of bone to hold them in place. A lot of things now make sense in retrospect, now.

The doctor’s intial plan had to be completely scrapped, because it won’t work anymore. I’m going to lose what teeth I have now on top for the revised plan to work. It’s upsetting to say the least. I can deal with whatever pain is involved, but what is killing me inside is the financial cost. Tops, I’m looking at roughly $15,000. No joke. I could sell every single thing I own and still never afford it. Of course, my insurance is going to screw me over every which way from Tuesday over this, and I plan to fight them every step of the way in return. I’d like to see the CEOs of my particular insurance company squirm and grovel instead of rolling in all that money they collect for doing nothing. I am hoping and praying that someone there will see reason and grant me the coverage I need for this, instead of trying to brush it off as a ‘cosmetic procedure’. I already cannot eat properly because of my lack of teeth. The retainer I wear is over 10 years old and falling apart, literally. It’s beginning to interfere with my ability to speak clearly; the slight lisp I have has grown more pronounced, because the retainer no longer fits as well as it should. I am in constant pain from my loose teeth, and that’s not from lack of care, it’s because the bone shrinks when there are no teeth. That’s what the dentist told me, and if I lose the others, I may have nothing left.

This has been one of the most frightening diagnoses I have ever been given in my life. Some people are ashamed to have dentures—I just want to have a normal life! A 37 year old woman shouldn’t have to deal with this sort of thing. But I have to. I’ve gotten through all those surgeries, all 12 of them. I’m here for the long run. I can’t quit now.

My parents and I are going to figure things out, one way or another. I’m glad I’m finally getting this mess dealt with, even though it’s so intimidating. The one good thing about all of this is that I’m not going into this fight alone. I’ve got family, and they’ve got my back.

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