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EDS and the Dentist

I saw my dentist yesterday for a routine check-up. Because EDS can cause awful dental problems (teeth crumbling, small jaw and very high, narrow palate, teeth falling out because of weak bones/weak gums), I see my dentist every 3-6 months.

I’ve had a lot of dental work in my time. EDS causes resistance to local anaesthetic (it doesn’t do much, if anything for me), so having dental work done is not particularly enjoyable.

I had five teeth removed in my early teens because there wasn’t enough space for them in my mouth. I also had a cross bite, which is an interesting mixture of overbite and underbite, which took years of orthodontic treatment to correct. It’s still not quite right, so my jaw often dislocates when I yawn, chew or talk.

Most of my teeth have been treated with a protective layer, to stop them falling apart, which has worked so far (frantically looking for something wooden to touch).

To complicate things further, I don’t eat/chew much because of my digestive problems (gastroparesis and pan-enteric dysmotility), which weakens the teeth and jaw bones, and also means that I have a dry mouth most of the time. Autonomic dysfunction worsens this (imagine the dry mouth you get when you’re nervous and the fight-or-flight response kicks in), and I also take medication that can cause dry mouth. Saliva protects teeth, so having a dry mouth is not a Good Thing.

One more thing: the painkillers I use. Actiq lozenges look like a small lollipop on a stick. They contain fentanyl, which is related to morphine. They also contain sugar. The medication is absorbed through the mucus membranes in the mouth, so I hold a sugary lollipop next to my teeth for 15 minutes, four times a day. These lozenges are licensed to treat cancer pain, but can be prescribed to treat other types of pain at the discretion of a specialist in pain management. I don’t really absorb much through my digestive tract, which rather narrows our options to treat the pain.

Sorry – sidetracked.

My point was that I was worried about seeing the dentist yesterday, in case all the factors above had damaged my teeth so much that the dentist would have to pull them all out without anaesthetic. What actually happened was that I was in the chair for no more than 5 minutes, while Mr Dentist checked my teeth. They were pronounces ‘spotless’ and I was sent away to keep on doing what I’m doing. So nice to leave an appointment with good news!

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