Tooth Trouble: When Preventative Care Doesn’t Work as Planned

Sometimes health feels this precarious; I'll do what I have to keep from falling down the cliff.
Sometimes health feels this precarious; I’ll do what I have to keep from falling down the cliff.  photo by Kurt Fristrup

Over the last two years, my dentist has been replacing my fillings. He explained to me that my teeth were showing signs of cracking and that my old fillings weren’t helping matters any.

My dental history is a long and busy road including pulled teeth, braces, fillings, and a root canal. One thing I do not want is more dental work, so I am willing to do anything I can now to reduce the chance of big problems later.

Having my old fillings drilled out and replaced was stressful, painful, and expensive, but my husband and I agreed it was worth doing. It made me dread my regular cleaning visits because the last three all ended with scheduling a round of filling work.

On Monday, I went into my six-month cleaning thinking “All done replacing fillings! All that’s happening today is a cleaning. I can relax.”

And I thought that right up until the dentist said, “One of your teeth is broken.”

I was surprised. I had no idea I had broken a tooth. Apparently, the piece that has cracked didn’t come out because my teeth are so tightly wedged together. I have a small mouth and big teeth, so there’s no room to spare.

Then he said, “You need a crown.”

Not words I wanted to hear. I felt like crying, but didn’t. He assured me a root canal would not be necessary, and that was good news at least.

The tooth that’s broken? We replaced the filling in November to avoid this very problem. It came apart anyway.

I’m disappointed that my preventative measures didn’t work. It’s easy to think the money I paid for a filling that only lasted six months was wasted. It’s a painful reminder that you can do all the right things and still not get the results that you want.

On the other hand, what would have happened if I hadn’t replaced my fillings? Maybe more of my teeth would have broken, and this tooth that has just cracked and only needs a crown might have disintegrated and required a root canal. There’s no way to know for sure.

I only have my faith in preventative measures. No matter what I choose to do, I’m the one who lives with the consequences. Much better that I should take good care of myself and minimize the chances of big problems than neglect or even abuse myself and open the door to catastrophe.

Good behavior does not guarantee anything when it comes to health. All I’m really doing is nudging the odds a little. But I want the best odds I can get, so I’ll be back at my dentist’s in November for my 6-month cleaning.

I just have to get this crown put in first.

Do you believe in preventative care? Do you get to the dentist regularly or avoid going at all costs?

2 thoughts on “Tooth Trouble: When Preventative Care Doesn’t Work as Planned”

  1. Without insurance for a few years, I skipped going. When I got insurance again, the dentist said I needed 19 fillings/crowns. While I’m sure I needed many of them (since I’ve had cavities since I was a kid), I do think some of them were unnecessary–my new dentist doesn’t seem to recommend crowns nearly as often as that dentist. But I do now go every six months. Who knows what the future will bring?

    1. 19?! Wowsers, that’s a lot.

      I’ve had enough cavities over the years that I know when they poke the soft spot and pull the pick back out exactly how much drag qualifies as needing a filling. How sick is that?

      But maybe we should get second opinions on the big stuff…?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 1 MB. You can upload: image. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.