Friday, March 18, 2016


It's not good when the dentist says, "This was the most difficult filling I've one this year."  OK, it's only March, but still.  I inherited relatively good teeth and soda just wasn't part of my growing up or adulthood.  Cavities have been rare and slow to develop.  So I'm not used to the dentist saying you have a cavity, particularly a bad one.  But somehow this one didn't show up clearly in last year's X-ray, but did with a vengeance this year.

It was a surreal experience.  The cotton swab with what looked like congealed blood on it, used to numb my gums worked.  I really didn't feel the needle that killed the pain and feeling.  I just lay back on the chair as fingers and tubes filled my mouth.  Didn't feel the drill at all.  But another device that vibrated strongly brought my full attention back to my mouth.  But I felt somehow disconnected from what was going on in there.  In was only at the end that I thought about pulling out my camera and documenting the invasion.
And apparently this one is just a temporary filling until we decide what the next steps are.

Just for the record, here are stats on dental health from the National Institutes of Health:
"Prevalence ( Table 1)
  • 92% of adults 20 to 64 have had dental caries in their permanent teeth.
  • White adults and those living in families with higher incomes and more education have had more decay.  [This is a surprising finding.  Perhaps they're more likely to see a dentist and get recorded.]
Unmet Needs ( Table 2)
  • 26% of adults 20 to 64 have untreated decay.
  • Black and Hispanic adults, younger adults, and those with lower incomes and less education have more untreated decay.
Severity ( Table 3 and Table 4)
  • Adults 20 to 64 have an average of 3.28 decayed or missing permanent teeth and 13.65 decayed and missing permanent surfaces.
  • Hispanic subgroups and those with lower incomes have more severe decay in permanent teeth.
  • Black and Hispanic subgroups and those with lower incomes have more untreated permanent teeth. 
Tables 1 through 4 present selected caries estimates in permanent teeth for adults aged 20 to 64 years and for selected subgroups.
Units of Measure: Dental caries is measured by a dentist examining a person’s teeth, and recording the ones with untreated tooth decay and the ones with fillings. This provides three important numbers:
FT (filled teeth): this is the number of decayed teeth that have been treated, which indicates access to dental care;
DMT (decayed and missing teeth): this is the number decayed and missing teeth that have not been treated, which measures unmet need; and
DMFT (decayed, missing, and filled teeth): this is the sum of DMT and FT, and is the measure of person’s total lifetime tooth decay.
In addition to counting decayed and filled teeth, this same information can be gathered at the tooth surface level. Since every tooth has multiple surfaces, counting the decayed or filled surfaces provides a more accurate measure of the severity of decay. The following tables list both methods of measuring caries."

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