Tuesday, July 13, 2010

dentist: crown, part 1

I'm fairly surprised I don't have an all-encompassing fear of the dentist by now. It seems every time I go something goes wrong and I'm stuck with my poor, inept jaw open for long periods of time, resulting in lots of pain.

Yesterday was no surprise - I went in to have two fillings replaced, as they were placed by a terrible dentist in my teens and were showing signs of infection underneath. Those went fairly painlessly - and now they're tooth-colored fillings, instead of shiny silver! Hooray! And all of that work took less than an hour - right on track (my dental assistant is an amazing woman who knows exactly how to treat my idiotic jaw).

Then... the crown prep. I was under the impression (excuse the pun) that it was only an impression - and I would come back in two weeks for the fitting. My dentist is placing a crown on the tooth that had to have a root canal shortly after jaw surgery - my very most rear tooth in the back upper right, of course the most difficult tooth to work on with limited jaw opening.

I'm not exactly sure what went 'wrong' - something wasn't done during or after the root canal, possibly because I was in such incredible pain and it was taking too long? Whatever the case, Dr. Nuttall dug around and took off the silver and shaped and smoothed and cut a bunch of gum tissue and... 2 hours later it was over. He was quite proud of whatever it was he accomplished in there, but I was seeing spots from pain.

The good thing that came from all of this? Dr. Nuttal, being the amazing dentist he is, took time to let my jaw rest during the treatment. He tried to cold-spray my jaw, which doesn't really help me. He then started a full neck massage - which, lo and behold, really helped! After 20 minutes of massage, I felt like I could open my jaw further and it hurt much less! Could it be possible that some of my ROM problems are stemming from muscular problems in my neck? I think I'll go to my acupuncturist to find out. I'm still really interested in a physiotherapist, as well, but am not sure how to find one.

The bad thing, of course, is insane jaw pain and a tooth-ache/gum-ache/face-ache that rivals post-jaw surgery. But without all of the cool painkillers.

Much love to all the recently post-surgery folks. It'll get better - I promise!


Anonymous said...

I've been reading through your blog and saw that you play clarinet. I play oboe and am also going to have surgery to correct my overbite. One thing I am really worried about is how it will affect my playing, or if playing will "hurt" a good result. Did you have to make any big adjustments with your embouchure? Have you noticed any problems with playing? The oboe embouchure puts a lot of pressure on my facial muscles and jaw... I apologize if you've already talked about this in another post--I haven't had a chance to read through your whole blog yet. Even though I've found a lot of good info on the type of surgery I'm having, I haven't seen any others who are also musicians, so I am excited to find yours.
Thanks so much!

stephanie said...

Hi Ellie -

I don't talk about clarinet playing much, as I really haven't met any other wind players out there.

I think a lot of the embouchure changes come from the amount your jaws are moved - both of my jaws were really re-arranged, so it was a big change for me. I took a few lessons again afterwards - everything from the angle of my horn to the shape of my mouth and tongue on the inside changed - so yes. It was big and frustrating, but I'm finding now things that used to be a struggle (altissimo register) are now easy.

My problems with playing are almost gone now, except my jaw gets tired still - so, when I played in a pit that did a matinee/evening performance in one day it was pretty exhausting, when it wouldn't have been pre-surgery.

My surgeon was really concerned about relapse due to pressure on my lower jaw, so I wasn't allowed to play for 12 weeks (and she may have wanted me to go longer, I'm not sure, but I teach beginning band and REALLY need to be able to demonstrate instruments).

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask!


Anonymous said...

Dear Steph,

Thanks so much for your answer! My surgeon is concerned that my oboe playing in high school and college (which was pretty intense) caused a relapse in my orthodontic work (finished the first time when I was 13) to begin with... so, we haven't talked restrictions yet. I'm not exactly sure I want to hear the answer. I have to get this fixed, though.

Thanks again, Ellie

Brent said...

Hi Stephanie!

Thanks for your kind comments and offers! I was just reading your blog yesterday and wanted to get in a question about your surgeon..I also live in Wash State and have the option of using Jessica Lee! Did you like her? How was the treatment at Swedish? I really appreciate your offer to view your appeal letters! Are you happy with your results and choice to have this surgery? You look GREAT!


stephanie said...

Ellie - that's interesting. I, too, had orthodontic work completed when I was 13 or 14 - headgear and all and then had an intense high school/college experience in regards to clarient playing - I guess like all college music majors.

Hmm. Anyway, it's worth it. It was a huge struggle, and still can be oddly frustrating even a year out from surgery - but worth it!


stephanie said...

Brent -

I LOVED Dr. Lee and her entire staff. I think she is an incredibly talented, amazing surgeon who I would recommend without hesitation. And Swedish Hospital was by far the best hospital I've ever stayed in - personally and watching many family members go through surgeries elsewhere.

I am extremely pleased that I was able to have this surgery. It's worth it! :)


Brent said...

Thanks Stephanie!
That is nice to know about Dr. Lee. I am over here in Kitsap County and taking a run at Harrison Hospital, but Swedish is definietly in my options right now.
Did you ever consider Dr. Feldman? He is also another surgeon that works at Swedish. Your thoughts?

stephanie said...


I chose to use Dr. Lee because she works with my orthodontist, Dr. Molen in Auburn/Sumner/Enumclaw. Once I was sure that she was a good surgeon, I really didn't look for a second opinion or at any other surgeons. She's pretty fantastic, I really lucked out.

Good luck!

Mélissa said...

I Stephanie, I quicklie browsed through your blog as today I had my last appointment with my orthodontist before my jaw surgery, Im so scared I was crying during the entire appointment and even now 9 hours after, but she suggest me to read some blog to reassure me, And this is how I came across yours. I aint going to lie it didnt really reassure me....My surgeon and orthodontist said it would take about 1 month for the swelling to go away, but it seem that it was way longer for you, can you tell me more, what surgery did you get exaclty what did they do, Im getting both my lower and upper jaw broke. If you want youcan email me, that would be much appreciate, if you cant well thank you for the time you took to read this.


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