A couple of years ago, I broke off one of my teeth in my sleep. Jenn and I were living in the apartment at the time, and in the middle of the night I woke up from a weird dream when I heard a loud popping sound. My jaw was a little sore, and my mouth felt funny. I went to bathroom and saw that I had broken my tooth!
I had a lot of dental work done when I was younger. I had spacers, braces, fillings, and veneers on both of the secondary upper incisors. The teeth with the veneers were very small, much smaller than the rest of my teeth, and it resulted in a large gap between the teeth. The veneers were there to fill in the gaps. Well, it was one of the veneered teeth that I broke. I don't know exactly what I did, but I can only imagine that I had been working my lower jaw in my sleep, and just got into a weird position that put too much pressure on that tooth. I had planned to visit a customer a couple hours away that morning, and there was no way I could miss the appointment, so I stuffed the tooth back into place in the morning and just prayed that it would hold through the day until I could get to the dentist.
I had a late appointment with the dentist that day, and I found out the extent of the damage. The tooth behind the veneer had broken off almost below the gum line. This is bad, because it makes putting on a crown very difficult. There was very little tooth left to work with, and it was a small tooth to begin, so there wasn't much room to plant the anchor for the crown. The alternative would be to install a bridge, which would mean filing down the two neighboring teeth, a canine and an incisor, and using those to anchor the bridge. That wouldn't be any fun, so my dentist and I decided to try the crown. So far, it has worked out pretty well.
Anyway, the whole reason I bring up this story is that I had a checkup with the dentist this week. All of my teeth were doing fine, but the pocket between the gum and the broken tooth has opened up quite a bit. This is usually a sign of periodontal disease. Bacteria can get lodged in the gap between the tooth and gum, and that will cause plaque build up, and kill the gum and tooth. The broken tooth has always been sensitive since the crown was installed, but I took care to make sure I brushed it, and occassionally flossed. During past checkups, the pocket was bigger than on other teeth, but nothing the doctor was worried about. This time, though, I could tell the probe was going a lot deeper, and it hurt a lot more.
The next step is for me to go in to the dentist in two weeks to have "therapy". This involves injecting an antibiotic between the tooth and gum. This will help to kill the bacteria, and hopefully give the gums a chance to heal and close the pocket. There are other alternatives as well, but most are pretty painful. I could have root planing performed, where they would essentially sand down the edge of the root, and possibly trim the gums a bit. That hurts just thinking about it. So hopefully the antibiotics, and some more focused hygiene effort on my part will help get it done. Interestingly enough, Lysterine is a highly effect, non-prescription way to fight the problem as well.
I'll post an update once I get the antibiotic treatment. Wish me luck!