Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blog Post No. 23 -- Dental Drama

THE BACKSTORY: I thought I would take a moment to explain a little about my dental history, so you will know how I came to lose the 70 pounds I shed earlier this year.

A lifetime with a 100% overbite eventually led to advanced periodontal disease, despite good dental hygiene on my part. My periodontist, Mark Keiser, DDS (http://www.implantandperiomd.com), performed drastic gum surgery in 2007, introducing grafts of new skin cells in all four quadrants of my mouth to build up receding gum tissue in an effort to re-anchor my teeth. The surgery worked, but without correcting the underlying overbite,  tremendous pressure exerted by my jaw continued to wear down my gums.

Braces to correct the overbite were not an option for someone with my stage of periodontal fragility, so my dentist, Joanne Block-Rief (http://www.crossroadsdentalarts.com/), suggested that I consider full-mouth reconstruction, the altering of my bite through the wearing of a removable dental orthotic for two years to realign the jaw position, followed by a radical two-step procedure to re-shape my bite using veneers that Dr. Rief would insert under the auspices of LVI Global, a dental school in Las Vegas where Dr. Rief was learning the procedure.

Under Dr. Rief’s careful tutelage, I faithfully wore the dental orthotic for two years, and in August of 2010 made my first of two trips to the Las Vegas dental school with Dr. Rief and her staff for the complicated procedure. After my mouth healed for a month from the first round, I traveled back to Las Vegas with my dentist in September 2010 for painstaking insertion of the new, permanent, veneers.

The aftermath was not without complications. My jaw did not take to the realignment well, and fought to return to its original position, which resulted in near constant movement of my teeth despite being anchored in their new position.  From September to December 2010 I couldn’t chew any solid food, and I started to lose a little weight. Not wanting to waste what might be a wonderful opportunity, I decided this was as good a time as any to embark on an actual diet, so I asked around and found a sensible, realistic eating plan that I could live with.

I also signed up for a yoga class at my gym, Merritt Athletic Club (http://www.merrittclubs.com) to try to lower the stress caused by my protracted dental pain.  At the same time, Dr. Rief patiently adjusted my bite almost weekly to try to find a place where my jaw could rest comfortably in its new position so that my mouth could start to heal. I want to publicly acknowledge my dentist and her staff, Bree and MIchele, for their dedicated service and compassion throughout the procedure and my recovery. 

By the end of December 2010 I had lost almost forty pounds. As the dental discomfort slowly subsided, I began to enjoy my new smile. The change in my appearance was a huge motivation to continue eating sensibly, which for me was simply a matter of controlling my portions, as I had always been a patron of healthy foods. By May of 2011 I reached my weight loss goal of 70 pounds. In September 2011 my dentist invited me to film a television commercial for her, in addition to a print ad I had done earlier in the year (seen above). The 30-second TV commercial is airing now through the end of 2011, on Baltimore’s local ABC affiliate, WMAR Channel 2, during morning news programming. You can click on this link  to see the vintage fashion I brought to the airwaves that day!

ABOUT THE CLOTHES: All this is really about the clothes, after all. The red denim jeans I wore for the television commercial are straight-leg, button-fly Levi Strauss originals from the early 1970s, part of the trove of clothes I unearthed in my basement after I’d lost so much weight. The jeans even sport a tag saying "made in the USA". I bought the red floral ribbed Faded Glory tank top earlier this year.  My tri-colored leather belt and red and gold beaded platform sandals are from Macy’s, and my red beaded stretch bracelet is from Something Else, a eclectic clothing boutique in the Mt. Washington section of Baltimore (410-542-0444).  I've had my red bead and chain earrings as long or longer than the red jeans, and my wonderful red and black beaded cord choker necklace is from Fire & Ice Jewelers of Baltimore (http://ww.fireandice.com).

You can view a web album of my dental procedure from start to finish by clicking on this link.  Just be forewarned that it is quite graphic and not for the faint of heart: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/sredir?uname=lynelltobler&target=ALBUM&id=5508703186742156305&authkey=Gv1sRgCO3um4bgkqWvag&feat=email  
My year of chewing delicately has thankfully come to a close, and I feel transformed from head to toe.  I am physically fit, I have a radiant and healthy smile and this fun blog to play with, my weight is once again proportionate to my height and age and, I am happy to report, my youthful figure seems to have returned, albeit with a few more wrinkles than when I weighed this little in my twenties.   

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