A couple weeks ago, I shared that I had fears of a cavity recurring or worsening. The following Monday, I went to see my dentist. Fortunately, the discomfort had subsided, but I was still skeptical of the tooth. What did it mean for my oral health and the course of my Invisalign treatment?
Flooded with trepidation that this damn tooth was causing problems, I marched into my dentist’s office. We promptly took a new set of bite-wing X-rays.
Apparently the composite used for Invisalign Attachments looks funny on X-rays.
My hygienist couldn’t commit to a diagnosis without the dentist taking a look, but between my explanation of the timeline of my symptoms, how I was managing them when they were present, and the absence of a spooky spot on the X-rays… things looked okay.
We went about my cleaning. Even though I am religious about my dental hygiene appointments, I somehow always forget how wildly unpleasant the scraping aspect of a cleaning is. This time, I needed less of that attention than ever (that’s what brushing and flossing 3-4x/day gets you! woo!) but I would rate that routine aspect of a dental cleaning as worse (yes!) than IPR.
Finally, the dentist came in, examined the X-rays. The X-rays look fine. There’s a dark area that is not yet a cavity on a totally different tooth that has nothing to do with that one; our mutual opinion is that we will monitor it but ultimately take no action at this time. Then, she poked around in my mouth at the offending area.
Her verdict? There’s no cavity and the filling is fine. Hallelujah!
Looking at my gums together, my hygienist and dentist deduced that I was brushing too aggressively. Apparently I was holding my toothbrush too firmly, which meant it was working too hard at my gums. When you irritate your gums like this, you can cause tooth sensitivity like what I experienced. In extreme, prolonged cases, it can lead to gum recession.
Because I’m in the midst of orthodontic treatment, I need to be extra-gentle with my gums. So they coached me how to better hold my electric toothbrush (try holding with just 2 or 3 fingers, not how you’d hold a manual toothbrush) and sent me on my way with some more Sensodyne.
They were glad that I kept my appointment, though, because often times people wait until things progress further (and are harder to treat and more impactful).
The Bottom Line
I dodged the hell out of a bullet. I’m so relieved that nothing is ‘wrong’ with that tooth. I had gotten myself all stressed out and worked up over it because I was worried that I had somehow, ‘ruined,’ things. I have a long, emotional, and expensive history with the health of my teeth; learning that the tooth is fine was a major weight lifted. This cavity update comes with more than one moral of the story:
Be gentler when you brush, especially if you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment
Take sudden changes seriously. If you have sudden pain or discomfort, consult your dental and orthodontic professionals for advice on who to see. Even if that pain subsides, keep your appointment just in case.