Sugar And Your Teeth
Sugar and your teeth, what can go wrong? My online presence has always been about helping others. I figured what ever I was going through I knew others were going through the same thing. It is always hard to do something in your life and wonder if you are alone, what are you going to do, how will you do it, what will you do. I figured by being open about my experiences that it may help someone else on their same journey.
My latest journey has been about my teeth. Not an easy journey for most of us. So many not so good experiences which lead to fear of the dentist, which leads to not going at all. Not a good choice to make no matter what the reason is.
I grew up on welfare with a single mom. She did the best that she could do for us at the time. Unfortunately the cheapest way to feed a family is with pre-packaged foods. Which, if you read labels, are loaded with sugar. Sugar is a major dental issue if you do not remove it quickly. Sugar and your teeth are not a good combination. It starts to eat away at your teeth. Back in the 60’s and 70’s growing up on welfare there weren’t many benefits. One year all types of dental work were included, the next they were not. I should have had braces on my teeth but we couldn’t afford it and when mom finally realized that it was now an approved benefit, by the time the appointment arrived, the benefit was no longer allowed. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Fillings and pulled teeth were approved though.
Mom tried to get us to brush but no matter what, we just were not doing it correctly. Cavity after cavity. Of course it was always at a welfare clinic to get teeth done. There was this one dentist that just about stabbed me with the needle to get me to shut up. I hated needles (still do) and when I was crying about it he pointed it at me and yelled to shut up or he’d make me shut up. That put the fear in me that lasts up until today. He definitely should not have been a children’s dentist.
My the time I was an adult, my teeth were already in rough shape. I had too many teeth in my mouth, a few were crooked and cavities were forming rapidly. I was still eating all those sugar laden products. Pastas, sauces, cereals, breads and cookies. Cookies were my comfort food no matter what age.
I had an insurance policy twice as an adult. The first policy had a limit as to the coverage. With so many teeth in my mouth, plus my wisdoms, the dentist that took the insurance said all that would be covered would be to pull them all and do at least an upper plate. So I said oh why not, so they started with the back teeth. Wisdom, 2 molars and another tooth on each side. Then I got scared and chickened out. So I was left with 8 teeth on top. I learned to eat with them and had no problems.
When I was with my previous partner Louie, we managed to get work done to save what I had left. I had another policy with a copay that we could afford. We found a dentist who managed to put in 2 crowns at the bottom and repair the two (2) front teeth on top. One was crooked and had a chip in it. So he filed them down and reconstructed them. How did he bill it? He billed it as a cavity for us. He even covered the cost for bonding on them to help protect them in the future.
But like anything in the insurance industry, policies changed and he could no longer accept them. Almost no one in our area took that policy so again I was stuck with no affordable dental care. But hey, we managed to get most of it all done through that policy.
20 Years Later
Bonding doesn’t last for ever and on what was left of the teeth again had cavities. Louie had passed away and I had met Ed. Like Louie, Ed is amazing. Being there with me for dentist visits and helping where he can to get things done. Of course we didn’t get anything done in the USA. I refused to go, couldn’t afford it. But with us moving to Costa Rica, it is so much more affordable.
Before Louie passed away I was starting to read labels more and “trying” to stay away from sugars. But oh that comfort food tasted so good. All those comfort foods are loaded with sugar, and your teeth are breeding grounds for decay. After meeting Ed I did manage to change my diet drastically. But the damage to my teeth from all that sugar over the years did it’s damage even more to my teeth. We had decided to move to Costa Rica for a number of reasons. That’s another post all on it’s own.
On our first visit here we met Aurel, a Costa Rican Dentist who speaks english fluently. We met him through a friend of ours. So affordable to get cavities filled that I started getting teeth repaired. We knew they were not in the best of shape, but it was a process. Then my fears came back and we were busy with the new place. I tried 2 different dentists in the Grecia area and OMG. The one tooth I had on the right needed a filling, it was starting to cause pain so I had it fixed. Again at a great price. We went locally because our friend was in San Jose, which was about 2 hours away. Figured we would try local. For me, that was a mistake.
About six (6) months later the filling fell out. Wasn’t happy with that and was a bit fearful of that dentist so I decided to try someone else. I figured if the filling couldn’t last, what went wrong. So I found another dentist and decided to try that one. That tooth was so bad it needed reconstruction to save what was left of it. This dentist was good and I figured OK let me give him a try to do the other work.
I went in to get another filling done and he finally did an examination and said “I see ten (10) cavities on top, you’d be better off pulling them and getting a plate instead”. He did dental implants and I was like WTF. He said my two (2) front teeth were the worse with cavities. I started thinking, how can they be worse when there isn’t much real teeth left there.
So again I hesitated to go back and put things off. Worse thing to ever do when dealing with your teeth. Cavities get bigger over time. I have a habit at times of grinding my teeth. Not easy to do considering that I don’t have many on top. Well one night I woke up HOLY CRAP!! I grinned my teeth and somehow the one on the upper right clicked the lower teeth and it BROKE OFF!!! Very close to the gum line. I know many of you are like OMG that pain. Well I had no pain.
What Did You Do?
I decided I wasn’t going to either of these two (2) dentists in town and I wasn’t about to try to find another one. So I called Aurel and said HELP ME! He took me in right away that morning and figured I’d probably have to have that tooth pulled. I brought the tooth in with me to him and what a miracle worker. He said “I can save that tooth”. Really? How can you do that?
He examined the tooth and decided to see what was going on with the root area and what happened to the nerve. So he drilled a little. NO NOVOCAINE! I didn’t feel a thing. He noticed the root canal was closed off completely and the nerve was totally dead. He can save the tooth like he thought. He drilled a small opening and put in a piece of fiber type pin, cemented it in and rebuilt the tooth. YEAH!!!!!
I told him what happened and he said no, there is only two (2) cavities that he could see up top. He said that the older fillings were stained and should be replaced. But he suggested that I get crowns on my top teeth instead so that we can save them all, plus a better repair for the other one.
Ed and I talked about it and we decided that with the price to do all six (6) that it’s worth it in the long run to save my teeth. I went in for the fitting and filing of my teeth to prepare them for the crowns. Again I did not need novocaine. I have a high tolerance for pain it seems. He gave me a few days to decide on the type of crowns that I wanted. We decided to not have metal crowns but to do the porcelain ones instead and to go with zirconium material. Harder, better looking and less complications with your body. After reading that some materials the body has a reaction too, I was like OH NO what did I do. What if I have problems.
So we decided to go with the better option. I’d have to go in about a week later to try them on and have them adjusted before they would be ready a week later. Not a problem, at least I have the temporary teeth in that don’t look bad at all. A week goes by and I lost one of the temporary crowns. I guess I swallowed it while eating. Oh well. He lets me know that they were actually ready to be permanently installed if there were no adjustments to be made.
How Did That Go?
My fears kicked in and I was scared about the “what if”. What if he has a hard time getting off the temporaries, what if something goes wrong. Oh the mind is a terrible thing at times. He did have a difficult time removing a few of the crowns, so he cut them off which was totally painless. Again no novocaine. I felt nothing other than pulling to get them off.
They looked “almost” perfect. Except they looked fake. I know they are fake but I thought they were to blend in to the gum line.
As you can see from this picture, that was not the case. So off they came and the temporary ones put back on. But first he had to remake a few of them. Like the first time making the temporary, he had some issues. But we got them made and the technician took the crowns back to his office to adjust them. It would take a few days longer to do this. Hey I waited this long, what’s a few more days.
So Monday my dentist messages me that my teeth will be ready the next day. So I go in that morning and get the process finished. A few more adjustments to make them fit closer to the gum line and they were good to install.
For the first time in my life I have a beautiful white smile with straight teeth. I’m far from being finished. I need a partial for the top and five (5) teeth at the bottom need some major work done. Either a root canal, replaced with an implant or replace with a bridge. Many decisions to be made but it can wait just a little while to decide. When I smile my lower teeth do not show so not worried about the color difference just yet. We will get those fixed in some fashion.
In the meantime, I continue to do away with sugar and create or alter recipes to replace sugar with something that is less harmful to your teeth. Do yourself a favor and read labels. Then you will see just how much sugar you are taking in on a daily basis. Sugar and your teeth are not a good combination as is sugar and your body, definitely not a good combination. There are alternatives to sugar and you can replace it in any recipe for a healthier version.
So check out some of the amazing deserts, cookies, snacks and meals that we have on our website. Not only will they help you to heal your mind, body and spirit, they will help you to have better oral health.
Here is a before, during and after pictures so you can see the progress. Like I said, this is just the beginning. Remember sugar and your teeth are not a good combination. You need proper dental health regardless of what you eat. Do yourself a favor, go with some healthier alternatives than sugar.