Gray Matter


Dental Pain and My Dwindling Number of Real Teeth

RT Cunningham | April 15, 2021 (UTC) | Health

dental pain and false teethSome people can keep their real teeth longer than others. I don’t like suffering from dental pain, so I would rather pull a bad tooth instead of repairing it. At the age of 60, I only have seven real teeth remaining. I’ve had a dwindling number of teeth since 2004 or 2005, not counting all four of the wisdom teeth removed when I was 20.

Dental Pain

I never had dental pain when I was in the military for 20 years. Not once. A Navy dentist pulled all four of my wisdom teeth, at the same time, before they finished protruding from the gums. He sewed the holes shut to prevent dry-socket conditions. I wouldn’t call the sutured holes painful, even after the anesthetic wore off. I had a lot of fillings put into more teeth than I can possibly remember, mostly caused by acid reflux.

In 2004 or 2005, while I was working a 12-hour evening shift (on a Friday night), the filling came out of my number 30 molar. That’s in the bottom right quadrant of my mouth. The nerve was exposed, and I suffered all night long. I called my dentist before daybreak, and she met me at her office on Saturday morning, after my shift ended. Even with dental insurance, the cost of that extraction was more than $1000.00.

In 2011, while I was in the Philippines, I had all of my upper teeth removed. It cost me less than $100 USD. After a few months, to be sure all the swelling was gone in my gums, I bought false teeth for the upper gums. It cost me around $150 USD. I didn’t have any dental pain again until 2014, a few months before returning to the Philippines after a year-long visit with my children.

Before 2014 was over, I had a few teeth in the lower left quadrant removed. In 2018, about a month before departing the Philippines again, I had a few teeth in the lower right quadrant removed. The dentist refused to remove the number 31 molar, despite my protests. I don’t remember how much I spent both times, but I’m sure it was less than $40 USD each time.

Today, in Hawaii, I had that tooth removed. I wanted to wait until I returned to the Philippines, but I was having difficulty eating anything without it causing me pain. It cost me around $250.00 to have it removed, without dental insurance. I expected it to be much more expensive. Looking at the cost of dental insurance for my age, I saved money by not having insurance.

My Dwindling Number of Real Teeth

I have seven real teeth remaining, in the center of my lower gums. They need to be removed as well because they tend to loosen at times. I’m not worried about it, at least not yet. I don’t wear a partial denture. My lower gums are hard enough to chew with. Well, the right side will take some time to recover from today’s surgery.

I don’t feel bad about all the teeth I’ve had removed. My father had all of his teeth removed at the age of 50. I’m 60 and I still have a few.

Photo Attribution: Veronica Bosley from Pixabay

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