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Lupus stole my teeth but not my beauty

Updated on May 21, 2013

The beginning of losing my natural teeth

Lupus is a very mysterious illness that does not affect all "lupies" the same, however, as I have researched and read various articles on the internet and through various lupus awareness groups, and talked with our lupus patients, dental loss and dental problems can be very common.

As I read this and talked with friends, I thought "yeah right" and " that won't happen to me"! Well, it did. I first started having trouble with my teeth many months ago while eating a turkey sandwich. I bit into the sandwich and all of the sudden felt an intense pain behind my front tooth. I immediately ran to the bathroom and sure enough, the back of my tooth had chipped off. After a root canal and porcelain veneer later, I thought my troubles were over and that it was just a fluke thing. I mean come on, people chip teeth everyday on various things! I was even "accidentally" knocked in the mouth at a party one night and ended up with a chipped tooth. However, this was the real beginning and realization that lupus was claiming another piece of my body. Over the past three months I have endured one chip after another. Sometimes, I would spit pieces of tooth out after taking a drink, brushing my teeth, and even while flossing.

It wasn't until one horrifying afternoon on April 2, 2013 that I awoke from a nap with a tooth lying in my hand. Lupus causes me tremendous pain throughout my body and joints, even while I sleep. This has caused me to develop a bad habit of grinding my teeth while I sleep. According to my rheumatologist, this is a semi-conscious way of dealing with the pain. This grinding of my teeth is what caused to me to wake up that day. It was almost like I subconsciously knew to wake up. I went to the bathroom mirror and was horrified at what I saw. My front tooth had fallen out, completely (including the root). I am sure most of you would think, its just a tooth, it can be replaced. This is true and mine will be. However, lupus takes away so much already, now I was losing my smile too??? Over the next week, I had 5 more teeth fall out and 4 just shatter or break apart. I knew what the dentist would say to me and even though I was prepared to hear the treatment plan, emotionally it took its toll.

Six weeks ago today I had to have every top tooth removed from my mouth. As I lay there in the dentist chair all I could think was I am 35, I am too young for this. How could this happen? I brush every day. Am I still going to be beautiful? What will my friends say or think? What will my husband feel? Will I still be attractive to him? The questions flooded my mind causing me to have a severe panic attack. I know this all sounds ridiculous, but I do know I am not the only one going through this. You see Lupus stole my original teeth but not my beauty.

This Wednesday I go for my first molding of temporary dentures. I should have them within the week. I will update my story with pictures after my appointment.

I started this blog simply to let others know,they are not alone. Feel free to comment, ask questions, or share your story as well.

Heather xo

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      Jennifer Suchey 4 years ago

      Hey Heather. I've been through it as well, also during my 30's. I don't have lupus, and saw several dentists and periodontists who scratched their heads at the state of my teeth and would say, "How old are you again?". None of them seemed to have an explanation for my loose teeth and receding gums. "It's obvious you take care of yourself," I remember more than one saying. This began when I was 30 and first realized how bad my teeth were and that I might actually lose them. At around 33 I found my current dentist, who I love. He's mentioned more than once how beautiful I am . . . in reference to how hard he knows it is for a woman to go through this. He believes I have "juvenile periodontitis", that it was something that began when I was very young and just never caught by a dentist. There are no real answers as to how one acquires juvenile periodontitis. Only some speculation, such as heredity, etc. At any rate, I understand the pain, particularly as a woman, of losing your teeth so young. I had all my uppers removed in my 30's and it was very emotional. My dentist got that . . . better than my husband did. I actually called my dentist once and asked him to talk to my husband who thought it was silly how upset I was. Luckily I've been able to keep my lowers. I go in every 3 months for a detailed cleaning and keep an eye on them. So far so good. I had implants placed in my upper jaw so I can click my denture into place. It was a long and somewhat tedious process for me for various reasons, but I'm pretty happy with the outcome, as far as having to have a denture goes. Just the other day I brought it up and my husband said he never even thinks about the fact that I have a denture. He forgets. I was glad to hear that. ;) For the longest time I wouldn't even say the word "denture". My dentist referred to it as an "upper". It's been around ten years since I had my first four front teeth pulled, followed by the rest a year or two later, and I've yet to look at myself in the mirror without my denture in. I just won't do it. I rarely tell anyone about it, though now I'm on the internet sharing . . . so . . . oh well. Maybe it will help someone else. ;) Good luck with your process. I'm glad you have a dentist you like. It sounds like she's as detailed oriented as mine and that's good. I will continue to follow your journey. Take care.

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      Becky Bailey 3 years ago

      I can relate, I remember my dentist looking at me like I was some kind of drug addict when Lupus began to steal my teeth, I have another one that needs to come out now, not leaving very many left in the back to chew, I know at some point I too will have to have them all pulled, and it probably isn't very far off...But I like you am tired of Lupus claiming everything I have...

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      Jodi Funk 3 years ago

      Thank you Heather Drury, Jennifer Suchey, and Becky Bailey for posting this. I am also in my thirties and losing bits and pieces of my smile. Within the last couple of months I've started losing pieces of my teeth and I'm nothing short of terrified of visiting the dentist again. I've already spent hundreds if not more, on my teeth. Root canals and fillings, even 3 teeth pulled. Take better care of your teeth, they say. I do. For all that it's worth..

      I am so damn tired of Lupus stealing from me!

      When will all of this end..?

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      Heather Drury 3 years ago from Owensville, IN

      Ladies...thank you so much for following me and I am sorry that i have not been able to keep everyone up to date. I hope that by sharing my story I can help others and let them know they are not alone.

      xoxo

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      april cox 3 years ago

      I know it has been a while since you started this blog but I to am in my 30s and have lost just about all of my teeth. It seems that doctors and dentist do not believe it is lupus related but they are the only ones. I have seen many lupus patients that have this problem. I can't afford to even get dentures now and I hate to even go out in public. I never smile and they to hide my teeth. It is so embarrassing being a woman and having this issue. I also had most of my hair fall out as well but that isn't as bad anymore.

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      BackhoeBob58 3 years ago

      Hi,

      It's probably especially hard for women to lose their teeth, but it's no picnic for men either. I'm about to lose 2 top teeth and the gums are receding fast on all my teeth so the rest are not far behind. I'm 55 and it's a very unpleasant prospect, to say the least. I've got Discoid Lupus, not the full blown Systemic Lupus. I take great care of my teeth and the dentist has no explanation for the receding gums except heredity or the lupus. I keep thinking there's gotta be some way to stop this - but isn't that the way with all health issues. Some things we have to accept, wisdom is knowing when to accept and when to fight.

      But it's really helpful to be able to share here, and know that I'm not alone.

      Blessings to each of you,

      Bob

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      JT 3 years ago

      I lost 3 teeth in less than 4 weeks and just had the remaining chipped and broken ones extracted and new immediate top dentures put in and they are beautiful. I've had SLE since 2004. See Dr Hanson at Smiles Restored in St George Utah. Only 485 for beautiful upper denture and they matched my old teeth, HUGS and hang in there!

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      Joy 2 years ago

      Wow so glad I'm not alone, I found out I had lupus in 2002 by then it was too late for my teeth I have been without teeth all this time cause I couldn't afford them and my insurance didn't pay for dentures, which causes Great Depression which causes flare ups but now I'm starting 2015 right I've been saving and I'm getting my dentures in one week. Then I have appointment for hopefully implants. I hope finally I can feel attractive again and start feeling good about myself. So thank you all for your stories people don't know but they are very helpful. So thank you very much.

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      lynda 2 years ago

      It is so nice to know i am not the only one going thru this. I wish this blog was up to date with others who are also going thru this. It infuriates me when i see articles stating there is no correlation bb between lupus and tooth loss.

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      Patricia Holloman 22 months ago

      I lost teeth last week, I now have about 11 teeth total I am 55 and was diagnosed with lupus in 2009. Last year I was diagnosed with osteoporosis and degenerative bone disease. I also grin my teeth. I think I do it out times when I have panic and anexity. I have very strange dreams at night and catch myself grinding at night.

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      Andrea Welch 16 months ago

      Hello I have the same problem I found out I had lupus and 2014 I still losing my teeth and they chipping i don't smile I'm embarrassed to tell anyone trying to find a dentist that I can afford but I look but they are to expensive so can I get some tips on what to do.

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      Stephanie 15 months ago

      I don't feel so alone now after reading your story. I too, have SLE Lupus and have so many issues with my teeth and gums. I've had some root canals done and extractions and the pain that I feel after work is done is almost worse than before. So now I have a huge anxiety about the dentist with all of my issues with my gums and teeth. I don't want to go to the dentist again but I know I need teeth removed and I'm so embarrassed about my oral health! :( I'm 38 and I'm sure I'll need some dentures now. Makes me a bit at ease knowing I'm not alone.

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      Latonya 11 months ago

      Hi my name is Latonya I've battle with lupus for 15 years now I got diagnosed at 15 years old I'm 30 now, I've starting losing my teeth at 19 years old, my tooth would just break while I was sleeping or eating, I didn't understand it so I visit my dentist and he reassured me that I had to have all my teeth removed, there wasn't any hope to saving them, I have dentures but I'm completely embarrassed to wear my bottoms I only wear the top, because it feels like a mouth full of plastic, and here I am a beautiful woman inside and out don't want to date because I'm afraid of being judge I'm completely hurt by what lupus has done to me

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      Robyn 8 months ago

      Thank you for sharing this I'm 55 and started losing my teeth about 7 years ago . I didn't worry about it because bad teeth run in my family . Over the part year I have lost teeth which have caused me to lose my smile... I have a partial, but it irritates my mouth and causes me to talk funny. My career as a teacher make it necessary for me to speak clearly, but I having trouble. I've gotten away with not having lupus symptoms for a couple of years , but now I'm having tons of dental problems . I hate the feeling that this disease has stolen so much from me but most of all my smile. My dentist told me I should consider full dentures, I'm just not ready...

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