Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dental Care and #Migraines

Dental care has become tricky business for me since the onset of my chronic migraines. Okay, I need to back up a bit here. See I had the same dentist in my hometown of Rochester, MN my entire life. The same dentist, the same hygienist, the same great dental care in a very small private practice. Dental care was never a worry. Shortly after my migraines went chronic, hubby and I moved far away, and then moved again, and then moved again, and then moved again.

Each move forced me to seek my dental care from absolute strangers. I had no way to know who was any good and ended up just randomly picking dentists. It never worked out so I never went to the same dentist twice.

Each move found me deeper into my chronic migraines. I was constantly trying new preventative medications and taking muscle relaxers and my rescue meds. Between all these pills my mouth became a very dry place and cavities followed. I would show up at a dental office and tell them about my migraines and all the medications and how crazy dry my mouth was. The trouble was that during the day, on a day when I'm not taking rescue meds, my mouth isn't terribly dry. Most of my preventative meds along with my muscle relaxers were taken at night so that's when most of the damage and discomfort was occurring.

The dentist and the hygienist would look in my mouth and see a pretty normal environment. I would then get the condescending talk about how I need to cut back on sugar and brush better. Of course, they made these blanket suggestions without ever having conversations with me about my diet or brushing habits, where they could have actually learned that this clearly wasn't the issue.

I would ask specifically what I could do about the dry mouth and then I would hear them whispering behind me about how my mouth isn't dry. They obviously didn't believe me and just brushed off my concerns. Meanwhile, they're shining that obnoxious light in my face, scraping with too much force and generally not taking my pleas for gentle care into consideration. Hello migraine.

It was like something out of Little Shop of Horrors:

So here is where things get kinda cool.

I was at the dentist this past December. At the time I didn't have dental insurance but did have 3 or 4 small cavities that, because I wasn't insured, the dentist said he wanted to watch but would probably need to fill next time. In February, as part of my efforts to cut back on the chemicals I use, I started using a remineralizing toothpaste and activated charcoal instead of store bought toothpaste. I used them for about 2 months but ended up stopping because the brown color of the remineralizing toothpaste combined with my electric toothbrush made for a messy sink.

In June, armed with dental insurance, I found a new dentist. First off, let me just say that this is the best dentist and dental office I've ever seen. Instead of those horrible bright lights they used small concentrated lights attached to a magnifying eye gear sort of like surgeons use. They gave me big shades to wear that blocked light from all directions while they were using their lights in my mouth. They were super gentle and respectful of my pain. Best of all they believed me when I spoke about my dry mouth. Both the dentist and the hygienist took the time to really talk with me about exactly what I'm doing and how I might be able to manage my symptoms betters. It was a conversation, a partnership. I never knew dental care could be this great.

The old dental office failed to send my x-rays from December but since I was newly insured the new dentist was able to take new ones. Much to my surprise the new x-rays didn't show any signs of cavities. If I hadn't seen both sets of x-rays with my own eyes I would have just figured the first dentist was lying about my cavities. That just wasn't the case. Now I can't prove that the remineralizing toothpaste and activated charcoal took care of my cavities but that was literally the only difference in my dental routine.

I'm thrilled to have found such a great dentist and relieved to have found this remineralizing toothpaste that, hopefully, will continue to help me avoid future cavities. I've decided to start using it once a week as a prophylactic.

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