Q: I’m a woman in her mid forties. As a youth and young adult, I had great energy, health and an adventurous spirit. I joined the armed services and a promising future was evident before me. About nine years in I experienced an accident at work that effectively took away my future.
At first, I thought it was just physical damages and I’d heal and be back to what I loved doing. But my body didn’t heal and my strength didn’t return. From that came anxiety, the need for treatment of body and mind. I must take several medications everyday and deal with their side effects. In the past seven years, I’ve experienced terrible heartburn and regurgitation that is most incapacitating. My teeth have begun to hurt because I grind at night and even during the day I clench. For the past year, I sucked on sore throat lozenges to make the rawness of my esophagus less painful. As a result, I’ve got huge decay. It makes me cry because I’ve always had beautiful teeth. Now I’ve got many teeth that have decayed to the nerve causing me to be on pain killers.
A month ago, I saw a dental office that began the process of diagnosing everything. It’s been an eye opener because they diagnosed my acid reflux disease and then that was confirmed by the ER Docs when I went in on an emergency visit three days ago. Thankfully they prescribed medication for it. The sugar from the lozenges is causing rapid decay. My stomach acid is dissolving the tops of my back teeth and my grinding is quickly scrubbing my teeth down. Is there any hope? How do I proceed?
A: There is always hope! In your situation diagnosis is the key to returning your teeth to their proper structure and function. The GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) medication should take effect in five to seven days. This will bring relief of burning esophageal pain (central chest heartburn). Your ER docs did you a great service saving you a wait to see a specialist by way of your GP MD. This will take away your need for sugary helps that lead to rampant decay.
Your dentist can get your decay under control and make sure any root canals are done. Once the “fires are put out” reformatting your bite can take place. This is most important to prevent the grinding wear that is, in part, caused by your medication.
Once the decay is eliminated special trays can be made to deliver fluoride to your teeth to prevent further tooth breakdown.
As your reconstruction proceeds these trays can be modified to keep your teeth cleaner and more resistant to decay. This will be a process but you can have your beautiful teeth back.