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Hypodontia, Oligodontia, and facing my fears

Updated on December 31, 2014

Trips to the dentist: What's going on with Gina's Mouth?

*What's going on?*

The short of it is that at the end of 2013 I made a HUGE decision that some of you will never even begin to understand:

I finally decided to finish what had been started long ago.

Awhile ago my dad was generous enough to pay for a section of my mouth to be fixed because I have a genetic defect. To a lot of people it looked cosmetic but what he knew was when he brought me home to live with him I looked like a squirrel stashing nuts away for winter: swollen on both cheeks. I needed strong antibiotics and multiple root canals to even start looking at the whole picture. For various reasons my treatment stopped, though I won't go into that here. Now I'm going to see it to the end.

*So what exactly is the real problem?*

Six of my teeth are/were baby teeth and at least two adult teeth are missing where they should have grown in. This has caused me many infections, odd spacing and irregularity of the shape of my jaw due to chewing on whichever side I could get away with at the time. It has been a painful and constant problem with thousands of dollars already down and many more to go.

Hypodontia is the condition of missing five or less permanent teeth, not including 3rd molars or wisdom teeth.

Oligodontia is what I have, missing six or more of my adult teeth and two or more baby teeth.

Anodontia is having no teeth at all, primary or permanent

Tooth problems as severe as mine are not a cosmetic problem. These (hypo/oligo/ano-dontia) are linked to heart arrhythmia's, depression, fatigue, breast cancer and death from blood poisoning or otherwise. Many of these truths are only now being discovered but there are many years of research to go.

*If it's so bad, what took you so long to fix it?*

Money. It costs $11,000 to take out the remainder of the problem teeth and replace gaps with bridges (implants would be $10k a piece so that was out of the question.). So far, I have raised some from family and friends (thank you so much, all of you!). Dental insurance only covered a certain percentage and I've faced the "Missing tooth clause" so many times it makes it worthless.

*Are you glad to finally be finishing it?*

Ugh. So glad. It will take a bit to pay off and in the end it will be worth it.

*How can I help?*

Donations can be made using the link below (to my dentist or my Go Fund Me account) but words of encouragement and smiles are definitely needed as well! Thanks to all who have sent me pictures, gifts and kind words along my way.

All images property of Gina Blanchard;

Fun photos of the project!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is how my jaw goes together; Really!  It's my mouth model.Here you can clearly see the difference between primary and adult teeth!More of Gina's TeethHere is a bridge I had done shortly before these x-rays were taken.More of my teeth - See? They're mine!Yeah, they're a mess!When they finish drilling you up and you're nice and ripe with Novocaine you get to make a mold!They need the mold to make one of these!Here's a close-up!  Yes, that's MY teeth!So you need one of those to make one of these.  So many steps!This is an identical copy to the bridge that you saw earlier in an x-ray!  It's an extra - but that's another story.A view from the top of my bridge!It's so fancy; presentation is everything, isn't it?Here's a close-up of how that worked out to fit!
This is how my jaw goes together; Really!  It's my mouth model.
This is how my jaw goes together; Really! It's my mouth model.
Here you can clearly see the difference between primary and adult teeth!
Here you can clearly see the difference between primary and adult teeth!
More of Gina's Teeth
More of Gina's Teeth
Here is a bridge I had done shortly before these x-rays were taken.
Here is a bridge I had done shortly before these x-rays were taken.
More of my teeth - See? They're mine!
More of my teeth - See? They're mine!
Yeah, they're a mess!
Yeah, they're a mess!
When they finish drilling you up and you're nice and ripe with Novocaine you get to make a mold!
When they finish drilling you up and you're nice and ripe with Novocaine you get to make a mold!
They need the mold to make one of these!
They need the mold to make one of these!
Here's a close-up!  Yes, that's MY teeth!
Here's a close-up! Yes, that's MY teeth!
So you need one of those to make one of these.  So many steps!
So you need one of those to make one of these. So many steps!
This is an identical copy to the bridge that you saw earlier in an x-ray!  It's an extra - but that's another story.
This is an identical copy to the bridge that you saw earlier in an x-ray! It's an extra - but that's another story.
A view from the top of my bridge!
A view from the top of my bridge!
It's so fancy; presentation is everything, isn't it?
It's so fancy; presentation is everything, isn't it?
Here's a close-up of how that worked out to fit!
Here's a close-up of how that worked out to fit!

So, what toothbrush should I buy?

Beep. Too early in the morning for me to care to admit, this sound comes not from an alarm or microwave but right out of my own mouth. One quadrant done meant 30 seconds of vibrating, spinning power in my mouth. Like a loyal (albeit zombiesque) soldier I move the tool from one section to the next, moving back and forth and up and down until the second Beeeep sounds.

The average person spends around 17 seconds brushing their teeth. Wow! I spend 2 minutes. I know because this toothbrush tells me so with those tiny sounds! My dentist (and you know I have experience!) tells me that this is the best brush for dental hygiene.

Here is my choice!

Gina isn't a fan of the dentist chair
Gina isn't a fan of the dentist chair

The beginning of my story; my first reveal

0.09% were my odds. Perhaps even less. Oligodontia. My mother couldn't hide the tears when the dentist was explaining. I remember. I was only a child but I knew this meant there was something wrong with me; I just didn't know what it was until decades later (or that she had to struggle with the 'genetics' part of it or the very expensive procedures I would have to undergo that she couldn't take on.).

My mom, bless her heart, prayed and had evangelists speak in tongues to me for just a glimmer of hope.

The first thing that happens when I go to a new dentist is I get new x-rays from the new dental assistant in training (always a very smiley and friendly person, this one), after a check-in with this seasons receptionist. Oh, don't get me wrong, they aren't having a rapid turnover or anything- I'm the one who is frequently changing.

I am always left in the room for about thirty to forty-five minutes. It's not that I go to places that are especially busy; this time it's an early afternoon- Monday, no less- and the dentist is reading my x-rays for the first time trying to figure out how they're going to tell me what's wrong.

They walk into the room, just past the doorway, meet my gaze across the room and ...sigh. A heavy, heart-felt, sigh that makes me feel like they're trying to figure out how to tell me I only have so long to live.

.

So this sigh is always followed by a: "Well, Gina..." and another sigh. I am serious. Every time with the sigh. Professionalism and bedside manner are somewhat lost because I always have near the worst news they can give one of their patients - they're dentists, not medical doctors. It's not a tumor, it's hypodontia's hateful neighbor. .

I turn and look at them, always fighting back tears because I know this means the end of every red cent I've worked so hard to save...again. It means I'm going to be put back on the chair and it's going to hurt. "I know." I breathe out, looking across as the most recent expert (I've been to six in the last ten years) puts my teeth up on the lit-up screen. The roots are small and twisted, soldered to the bone to keep from crumbling all over. I recognize the problems.

He, this newest one, looks at me with question in his face. "I know." I repeat and he finally understands that this is not my first rodeo, as they say.

I go to the dentist more frequently than most people. I know what's up.

Feel generous? You can help!

You can make payments directly to my dentist: Jonathan Wagner, DDS, Santa Cruz, CA.

Thanks in advance :)

Some of the procedures! - Viewer Discretion Advised!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ross, the hero, holds my hand for my appointments - literally.  He's also using taking pictures for me :)Dr. Wagner puts up with us!Lots of adventures happen here!I wear my sunglasses to keep stuff out of my eyes - like pieces of my teeth.Love the blue light - it's for "setting".SCARY!A myriad of teeth that the tooth fairy owes me for :(That's a baby tooth.You don't want to know.Scarier.  Smile wide!Eeep!Yeah, there's another one!Sometimes it feels like they're having a party in my mouth with all those instruments and hands!Another tooth and some scary implements being used on me!Here's where those molds start!NovocaineNovocaine up close!Where a tooth once was!
Ross, the hero, holds my hand for my appointments - literally.  He's also using taking pictures for me :)
Ross, the hero, holds my hand for my appointments - literally. He's also using taking pictures for me :)
Dr. Wagner puts up with us!
Dr. Wagner puts up with us!
Lots of adventures happen here!
Lots of adventures happen here!
I wear my sunglasses to keep stuff out of my eyes - like pieces of my teeth.
I wear my sunglasses to keep stuff out of my eyes - like pieces of my teeth.
Love the blue light - it's for "setting".
Love the blue light - it's for "setting".
SCARY!
SCARY!
A myriad of teeth that the tooth fairy owes me for :(
A myriad of teeth that the tooth fairy owes me for :(
That's a baby tooth.
That's a baby tooth.
You don't want to know.
You don't want to know.
Scarier.  Smile wide!
Scarier. Smile wide!
Eeep!
Eeep!
Yeah, there's another one!
Yeah, there's another one!
Sometimes it feels like they're having a party in my mouth with all those instruments and hands!
Sometimes it feels like they're having a party in my mouth with all those instruments and hands!
Another tooth and some scary implements being used on me!
Another tooth and some scary implements being used on me!
Here's where those molds start!
Here's where those molds start!
Novocaine
Novocaine
Novocaine up close!
Novocaine up close!
Where a tooth once was!
Where a tooth once was!

How well do you know yourself?

I didn't know what my condition was until it was more of a hassle to deal with it - know for sure what might be in store for you (also makes a great gift!).

Have you heard of any of these conditions?

See results

Thanks for reading my story; wish me luck! :)

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    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      I wish you the best of luck and thanks so much for sharing your story.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      I have never heard of your condition but do wish you the very best on your journey. It is always amazing the things that can go wrong before we are even born but I guess this is what makes each of us so very individual and unique. Best wishes.

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