Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Restorative teeth

Ever wonder what your teeth could look like from bulimia? Here's an example:

Here's a result after major teeth restoration:

This specific case of a young woman who had recovered from bulimia was featured in the Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry Spring 2008 and is retold here by a Virginia dentist. The press release goes into much detail on the treatment plan and how her teeth were restored.

Besides these interesting details, the conclusion was the best part. This dentist said, "This patient's case involved many of the challenges we face daily in our practice. Just a few years ago, however, I would not have known in which direction to take her treatment. Perhaps I simple would have provided her with a bruxism appliance, while "patching up" some of her fractured restorations and attempting to improve her smile be restoring some of her anterior teeth with direct resins. these would have failed repeatedly, causing us both much frustration."

Though I certainly see this as a wonderful step in cosmetic dentistry, I hope that other dentists will follow in suit. I often wonder how many of us stop smiling or become more self-conscious due to our poor teeth conditions. It's kind of a sad predicament. I hope one day we will all be able to have our smiles back whether it is through cosmetic dentistry or not.

Note--*all images from Full Mouth Rehabilitation and Bite Management of Severely Worn Dentition

*Though the article doesn't talk about it, since this is cosmetic dentistry, the monetary costs for these procedures is quite substantial.

14 comments:

Rachel said...

Wow, I wonder how much all that cost. Most dental plans do not cover "cosmetic" dentistry and despite this woman's awful teeth condition, what she had done would nonetheless qualify as "cosmetic" here in the states.

I have some minor damage to my teeth from my eating disorder. I've since seen two dentists and told each about my past ED history while expressing concern about the condition of my teeth now (I've chipped a few and had to have them sanded down). Neither seemed to really know what to say in response. The first dentist all but ignored me. It's really sad because dentists are often among the first to spot signs of an eating disorder.

Cammy said...

One brief comment (on my way out the door do class), that may seem shallow, and very well may be, but did you notice that she lost a significant amount of weight between the before and after pictures? I wonder what her story is.

Tiptoe said...

Rachel, I'm sure this amount of cosmetic dentistry was A LOT. It's a shame that insurance does not cover more dental procedures or dentists have more programs available to offset cost.

Unfortunately, I have a lot of damage from the ED and really do need implants to fill in the holes (there are 3), as well as restore my second bridge. It's all incredibly costly, and I have no way of affording it.

Cammy, I did notice the differences in the before and after photos. It's hard to say whether she lost weight or if it was due to the the restoration of the collapse of her face prior to treatment (the vertical dimension dx)

Anonymous said...

Im dental assistant and I personally have never had a self image problem and my heart breaks for everyone who does. I do know that it is soooo very important to keep up with your cleanings. Most americans do not go to their dentist once every six months for a check up and that right there can save you money in the long run. Most people dont go to the denist, for what ever reason, until its their last ditched effort. Tiptoe, hear is a peice of advice... research and see if there are some dentist in your area that do probono work such as volunteering at shelters. Most of those docs are in the dentistry feild to give back and not suck your bank account dry. Im sure they would be willing to help.

Tiptoe said...

Anonymous, thank you for sharing your thoughts and for the helpful advice. I'll have to look into that sometime.

George said...

I do think that if you are bulimic, you have low self esteem. Good thing, she had overcome that and she even had her teeth fixed. At least she had gained back her self confidence and she wouldn't be prone to dental caries due to bulimia.

As for me, I see to it that I have a healthy, beautiful smile. I visit these Myrtle Beach dentists to have my teeth checked. A healthy smile will give a boost of confidence. My two cents.

Dennis said...

Thank you for sharing a wonderful blog. It is really nice to hear stories of satisfaction from both the patient and the dentist. We are lucky that dentists (Germantown TN-based)care so much for their patient. I'm lucky to have various options to restore my teeth.

Dental aesthetics is such an innovation to those people who have dental problems. After sitting on the dentist's chair, I'm now proud and happy to showoff my teeth.

Tiptoe said...

Thanks for the comments George and Dannis. I'm glad both of you have had good dental options.

Marcila Dare said...

Thank you very much for this very informative post. Good that people can see this as a hope for them; that even the most damaged teeth can still be restored to its former pearly-white glory. Modern dental care can do wonders. Ask your dentist about it.

Jenny Rosenquist said...


I'm so jealous... My teeth are just like her before, pretty much. It's drastically affected the quality of life... Headaches, infections, unending tinnitus, agoraphobia (shame about my teeth, fear of being attacked about it, esp. after the ex ripped me apart about it), inhibited social interactions (I wish I could smile, laugh, experience life without deep turmoil), extreme pain that spikes up to my eye when the worst teeth are touched, regular pain and hypersensitivity from the injured teeth (I don't eat cold things anymore), constant bruxing to alleviate some pain, etc.... I've had strep in my blood, facial muscles convulsing, diminished hearing and smell, internal scarring of soft tissues, a herniating colon, and sinus infections... It's only a matter of time, it seems, in which I will get meningitus.

I lost three teeth when I was with my violent ex... The stress, the inability to cope, blows to the head... Plus compromised teeth meant breakage occurred with innocuous things like chewing on a cracker or a peach gummy ring.

I have two children, girls, and I want to set the right example for them, but it's so hard with such glaring dental deformity. I need to be strong, competent, capable, and healthy. Without treatment, things only worsen. It breaks my heart and crushes my spirit that most dentists don't want to treat a bulimic (never mind pro bono work) because they equate it to condoning the ED, and think bulimics are superficial idiots that could stop on a dime if they wanted to.

I wish they could see how it's similar to addiction--it affects brain chemistry--that it's quite difficult to conquer. I wish they could recognize the underlying obsessive-compulsive component--an all encompassing fixation on self-loathing and a cycle of ritualistic behaviors, just like problems with gambling, gaming addiction, and other OCD-fueled conditions. That's the underlying culprit right there, and bulimia is the way in which it manifests.

Sad thing is... Leaving the teeth untreated, to rot, encourages the continued obsessions, not restoration. It's so much harder to skirt the disorder when you know how hideous the face is, thereby making the only asset left is figure. The intense fear of having no "cards", married to intense insecurity and self-hatred, is the real fuel of dysfunction. It might start out as a means of shaping the aesthetic self, but that is the thinnest cover for deeper issues being the bedrock of the disorder.

Jenny Rosenquist said...

Sorry about the mini novel y'all, here's the last bit;

Tooth restoration wouldn't just mean "looking pretty", its:

A commitment to wellness
A restoration of wholeness and identity
Deep incentive to stay well
The return to social life, family, friends, not being a recluse
Peace of mind, a way to move on in life untethered by crushing shame
Safeguards ones health, therefore prolonging life and wellness
A form of closure, a powerful and tangible way to mark the end of the dark gauntlet, to bid sayonara to the old life and start fresh
Gives hope to others
Relinquishes stigma attached to a person; makes it a personal testimony to disclose as one chooses, not a forced scarlet letter... After all, shaming and hating provoked eating disorders in the first place, to be able to escape that is to be able to say "I define myself, I control self-disclosure, like normal people get to)

I'd give just about anything to get fixed. I was left penniless when the ex pawned, stole, or burned everything but the clothes on my back, so I don't have money assets... But I would be willing to work as an assistant or receptionist or hell personal janitor until the work balances the cost. I would pay a small monthly amount for a bajillion years, I would be a willing test subject for experimental dentistry, I would be willing to subject myself to widespread embarrassment by allowing the process to be followed by media of some kind.

A kind dental professional can be a giant ray of light, a beam of hope for the bulimic. It wouldn't kill a few to forfeit vocalizing disgust and insults and so forth... At the very least save it for when the patient isn't in the office. And maybe, just maybe, a few could muster a little compassion and open mind, look at bulimia through a different lens.

Pertaining to the before/after photos and weight; I actually don't think she lost weight, or, if she did, it was small. Her neck is still the same width in all the pictures, however, her face is indeed noticeably leaner looking. Like others have speculated, restoration of vertical dimension elongated her face a bit, AND if you look at her cheeks near the ear and the jawline, you can see that there was some inflammation in the before photos. Bulimia eventually causes swelling of the salivary glands, and can make someone look like they have hamster cheeks. Either which way, she is a knock-out and I hope she continues on her path of growth and wellness.

Tiptoe said...

HEllo Jenny, thanks for your response I'm sorry you have had so many problems with your teeth. It is hard not to feel discouraged, but I'd really try talking to a dentist candidly and seeing if there is one that will help you.

marketing4climbers said...

Hello Jenny. Thank you for opening up and sharing your story. My heart goes out to you. I have had an eating disorder for 16 year and have begun restorative dentistry. I am lucky that the damage is not as extreme as your situation. I went to many dentists for consultations and it was embarrassing at first, but I knew I had to be honest. You need to find a kind and caring dentist that you can open up to and have a candid conversation. I was lucky enough to find the one I use now. He is amazing. He truly cares about me and my outcome. Please do yourself a favor and start looking. The longer you wait, the harder the journey to recover of your eating disorder and mouth health.

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