Last year on my hunt to find a holistic dentist in my area I ended up finding one in Sacramento. They safely remove mercury fillings, offer digital x-rays & acupuncture during your teeth cleaning and they don't believe in toothpaste! Instead they use tea tree oil. I was totally on board. My 1st visit went great. I've never had any cavities my whole life so I was pretty happy when they told me I was still cavity free. When I missed my 6 month checkup and then waited another 6 months to finally make the appointment, I figured it wouldn't be too big of a deal. I mean hey I was still cavity free. Well this last visit ended up proving me wrong. Oh so wrong indeed.
During my cleaning, the hygienist discovered an 8mm pocket on my last back moral. Tooth #31 to be exact. She told me that I really needed to get better about my flossing habits (which I will totally admit to being pretty lazy about) and that I needed to see the orthodontist for further examination. So you can imagine I was a little freaked out about this. And then it dawned on me, wait I just turned 31! And they're telling me it's tooth #31... kinda ironic huh?
So I immediately went to the orthodontist down the hallway to get scheduled in. I was lucky because they had an opening that day, which worked out perfect for me since I live over 5 hours away. The doc came in and did an x-ray of my tooth and then measured all my gum pocket sizes. And then the bad news came. This was actually a very serious matter. He told me I have 2 options and neither were cheap.
Option #1 was to take a bone graft either from my chin, an animal, or human cadaver and try to regenerate bone that has been slowly deteriorating. This option has less than 50% chance of success and would run me around $2700. Not to mention the creepiness around a dead person's bone being in my mouth. Option #2 required having my tooth removed and a titanium implant put in. This would cost around $5000!!! OMG was this guy really serious?! Of course I started to tear up in his office. The thought of losing my tooth started to really freak me out. I know from my own personal study of health related things, our teeth are very much connected to other parts of our body. So was something else out of whack too? I knew I couldn't make any kind of decisions that day. I just needed to go home and do some research. I asked the doc if there was a way to get the 8mm pocket size reduced through better flossing and he said no. Basically the damage has been done he said. Now it would be about stopping the pocket from getting any deeper. He also suggested I do flap surgery to help remove plaque on my teeth that has become too hard to reach with normall flossing.
Gus and I left the office and I was determined to find out some more information. After hours and hours of researching online, I finally found the hope I was looking for! The site is called periopeak.com and after reading through the website, I started to feel that maybe this just might be the ticket I was looking for.
So basically in a nut shell this is how it works, instead of doing surgery to remove the tooth or do a bone graft, this awesome maverick dental hygienist named Judy Carroll, has developed a new procedure she calls RPE. With the use of a very tiny tool with a little microscope and a camera, she is able to see all the way to the root of your teeth. With that visibility she is able to clean away all the plaque. By doing this then your mouth can go into healing mode. In traditional dentistry they do what is called the flap surgery where they cut above your gum line to remove plaque. The problem with this method is a couple of things. First the teeth can't be cleaned "all the way" because they literally can't see all of the tooth. It can also be very painful with people reporting higher tooth sensitivity. Some people also have raised gums afterwards that can look bad cosmetically.
The RPE method doesn't cut up your gums, the tools are so tiny that they are able to reach the really hard places under the gums and with the camera, Judy is able to see all that she is cleaning. Plus you don't have to be knocked out, just numbed up. To do your entire mouth, the cleaning can be done in around 4 hours. No need for follow up treatments or post surgery blues. AND it costs WAY less $$. I mean we're talking like way less. I was quoted at around $2400 to do the ENTIRE mouth vs the $5k and $2600 for 1 tooth! And Judy also thinks the procedure may be less.
Then she injects regenerative proteins into the gums that help rebuild the tissues. Judy has been collecting data for over 10 years and doing case studies. Has written tons of articles on this subject and truly wants to help people save their teeth and to heal them the most non invasive way as possible. I checked out numerous pics on line of before and afters and it was pretty shocking. People just like me with 8mm pockets and deeper totally reversed them to 1's and 2's! And then it made me remember the original orthodontist that said it couldn't be done.
I think it's pretty amazing that I found this website and Judy. She's really trying to transform the way dental practices work and I can tell she really cares about people first not the money. She has clients flying in from all parts of the world to get this treatment and she's totally giving me a sense of hope that I certainly was not feeling when I left the orthodontist.
So of course I made arrangements to set up an appointment and sent my x-rays to Judy. She looked everything over and said I am a really good candidate of the treatment and she seemed really hopeful.
She did warn me that the worst case scenario is that she does the procedure and then finds that I have a root cavity, which if that's the case then I will have to look into other options, but she seemed to think it will most likely have a positive turnout. She did recommend that I get some blood work done, just to see if I am deficient in any vitamins, thyroid issues, etc. I also needed to start taking an ayurvedic herb called Haritaki 2 weeks prior to the procedure to keep the inflammation and the bleeding down during the cleaning. I was stoked she offered this as an alternative to a prescription drug.
It's crazy how all this stuff has really transformed me in the past 2 months. I have been flossing and brushing like none other. And then after getting into it, I could hardly believe I let myself slack so much in this area. FLOSSING is sooooo important. It's what keeps bacteria from getting into our gums, which if left untreated for too long can literally lead to your jaw bone deteriorating and then your teeth become loose and can fall out. I guess no one ever really explained it to me like that before. But I totally get it now.
I made my appointment for Dec 20th and I'm actually really excited to go take care of this. It feels really good that I found another way and I just need to stay super positive about this outcome. And I get to go on a little mini road trip to Washington. Gus is gonna come too and I'm really looking forward to sightseeing Seattle a little bit and doing some antique/thrifting on my way back with a nice pit stop in Portland.
This whole thing has totally inspired me to get on track. I've been researching proper gum care and looking into dietary factors as well, including my increasing inability to consume gluten and other various grains and corn. It's funny how life can work in all kinds of mysterious ways at times. I feel like this has all been a huge symbol for me about really stepping into adulthood, away from the careless twenties. I'm not invincible like I guess I wanted to believe. I'm 31 now and it's super important that I take care of my body, mind, and spirit. It's such a gift to be healthy.
While others are probably starting to count down the days 'til Christmas, I'm counting down to Dec. 20th when this story will continue to unfold. But don't get me wrong, I am still gonna enjoy this holiday season with a molasses cookie in hand and my toothbrush in the other. In fact, I encourage all my family to please put floss in my stocking. I'm going through this stuff like crazy!
I'm posting a pic below of my "before" pics. The pic on the left is the best view, you can see how I have a lot of bone loss on the last tooth on the left. The bone should be up higher towards the tooth but instead is closer to the roots. It's kinda hard to tell because the first line represents my gums.
I look forward to posting updates after the procedure and if all goes well, I'm definitely going to go back to the orthodontist to show him my results. Here's to a miracle!