So there I was, determined to start my healthy lifestyle ahead of my holiday, sitting down to a chicken salad with a little olive oil dressing. It looked beautiful: lush green lettuce, ruby red tomatoes, beautiful moist meat – a true spectrum of colours.
I piled my fork up, bit down and – crunch.
Crunch? Damn, there must have been a wee bone there… Something definitely felt odd.
Grabbing some kitchen roll, I spat out my mouthful and that’s when I felt it.
A tooth had gone. One of my front teeth.
The impact of biting on a hidden bone had been too much and cracked a filling that had probably celebrated its 40th this year.
I did the only thing possible. Looked in a mirror and cried.
The salad went in the bin – the thought of eating it made me feel nauseous – and I spent the rest of the day between the mirror and the tissue box.
Thankfully, I had an NHS dentist, but it still took several days to get an “emergency” appointment. And then he spent the entire ooooh, two minutes he spent with me extolling the virtues of £2,000 implant (turns out he is the only one in the surgery to do dental implants. Strange that, eh?) before telling me to make another appointment once I’d decided what I wanted to do.
Unable to see that particular dentist again – and not wanting another hard-sell session – I had to wait another two weeks for the next appointment.
A few days before my holiday.
Which meant I’d be heading off to the sun with gnashers that looked liked I’d been on crystal meth for my entire life.
Okay, so that’s a slight exageration. Mebbes even a big one. But there was something about losing my tooth that really affected me.
It wasn’t only my looks – it was only when I smiled that you could really see the gap – it was that I’d lost something that I would never have again.
In his diaries, Alan Clark muses on the significance of “last times”, arguing they are more important than the first time you do something.
Melancholy is exactly how it felt. The realisation that this was it until the day I died. That I could never return to how I was…
The whole tooth
But in between my philosophical musings, I had another problem. My holiday. In a few days, I’d be heading off to Spain for our first proper holiday in five years. Plus we’d be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary.
And I looked like I’d gone a round with Oleksandr Usyk.
Fed up of my moaning, Mr 50Sense took to Google and found my salvation: Creadent.
Creadent is an amazing temporary dental kit you can use to replace a missing tooth or fill a gap. It consists of tiny little balls of a non-toxic, biodegradable polymer that you melt in near-boiling water until they turn clear, which means they’re soft and squishy and stick together. Then you mould the balls into the space where your tooth was, place it in cold water to set and voila – you have a “tooth”. (Adding a little coffee to the hot water even allows you to change the shade.)
The Creadent was a little fiddly at first and took a while to get used to. The trick is to keep reheating the ball until you get the mould just right – they can be reheated several times.
It was amazing. You can’t eat with it, nor drink anything too hot (which was a bummer for me), but for a temporary fix, it’s perfect. I simply slipped it out before a meal and then slipped it back in again once we’d finished.
(Be careful when you sneeze, however. Mine shot out across the floor of the supermarket! Luckily you get enough for about 15 teeth.)
At no point did I feel self-conscious or worry that anyone would notice I was wearing a “falsie”.
It was so good that I took a #KnowYourMenopause selfie to celebrate our anniversary – I know how to live it up – without thinking twice.
Back home a few weeks later, I was fitted with a bridge and am now trebly careful about chicken and eating anything hard. But just in case, I have the Creadent handy…
Now my filling was old, but going through the perimenopause can have an impact on your teeth so keep an eye out. The drop in oestrogen can affect the bones in your jaw, meaning they become weaker (one of the reasons I’ve now signed up to a dental plan), and this can affect the fitting of any dentures you might have.
How can I look after my teeth during menopause?
It’s simple – practise basic dental hygiene!
Get the brush out: Brush your teeth at least twice a day. I use an Oral B electric toothbrush and boy, can I tell the difference when I go away and return to manual brushing. My mouth feels so much cleaner.
Do the floss: It’s not some American hoo-hoo, flossing gets rid of all those little bits between your teeth that can gather bacteria. I don’t floss. Ha ha – gotcha. I use TePe brushes, which are like teeny-tiny toothbrushes for in between your teeth. I find them easier.
Cut the sugar: I’m not one of those anti-sugar people as I’d be a hypocrite as I love a flump as much as the next perimenopausal woman. But sugar damages your teeth so try to cut back.
Eat well: Chicken salad proved my undoing, but it’s important to eat well in menopause. Go for foods that are high in calcium – cheese, yoghurts, sardines, beans etc – so you look after your bone health. Your jaw will love you for it.
Visit your dentist: Forget Marathon Man and psycho Laurence Olivier. Going to the dentist is nothing to be scared off – it’s relaxed and pain-free. As for how often you should go, we grew up with the “every six months” mantra, but there’s no hard evidence for this. NHS guidelines say you can go up to two years between dental visits if there are no problems.
Don’t sit there worrying: If you notice something, tell your dentist. And tell them you’re going through the menopause, too, so they know to watch out for your bone density in your jaw. Remember, there are around 13 million women who are either perimenopausal or post-menopause, so you’re not the only one your dentist will have seen.
HAVE YOU HAD TROUBLE WITH YOUR TEETH AS YOU GET OLDER? WHAT’S THE SECRET BEHIND YOUR SMILE? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW…
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