Teeth and Head & Neck Cancer
I want to discuss teeth. I’m on stage two of a dental plate making process (partial metal denture). I lost my top front teeth in my most recent surgery nearly four years ago. The denture has been my lifesaver because I’m not confident going out in public without a set of top front teeth. The incisors to the side are large and make me look like a vampire (not really but I don’t like the look). Trouble is, the denture has become more and more uncomfortable over the years. It’s tight on one side and the only time I am unaware of it is when I am 100% in a state of “flow” or totally absorbed in what I’m doing. It doesn’t both me much on my long walks! I remove it if I’m alone but there hasn’t been much of that lately.
So after lots of discussion and even arguments, the oral health department of my local district health board has agreed to make me another one. It’s not easy for them because of my trismus, but I’m hoping for at least a 50% improvement. We have a universal health care system in NZ – which is great – but lack of funding around the edges is frustrating. The oral health department isn’t meant to make a second plate but they have relented. I’d have to mortgage my house to buy one myself.
I and other members of my support group have been invited onto a review of head and neck services in Auckland. Oral health is so problematic that we might have a separate committee just for that. One of the leading dentists told me that “Dentistry is the forgotten son of medicine.”