A Story to encourage FINAL UPDATE!

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Solar Bell, Jan 31, 2006.

  1. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

    May 11, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    This is a little lengthy¦(oxymoron)

    When I was 12 years old, in 1964, I was dropped on my face, resulting in a chipped tooth. It was the right front, not a lot of fun for a trumpet player. I was taken to a dentist and not being able to save the chipped off portion, they put on a cap.
    This served me until I was 24 years old.

    At age twenty four I had a root canal and a crown put on. This meant cutting the tooth down to the gum line, installing a post and having a crown put on top of that.
    This, after about a three week period worked well for my playing. I was in a 4 piece band and for the next twenty years or so did about 150 gigs a year. In addition I was playing with various community bands as either a soloist or a ringer.

    During this time I had virtually no problems with my teeth. I should mention here I use a bit (HA!) of pressure when I play. Every 2 or 3 years the crown would loosen a bit. I would go to my trusty dentist who would remove the crown, clean the post and hole and cement it back in. Good for a couple more years.
    I will mention that once or twice a year I would get a little bubble right on the jaw bone above the tooth that was crowned. No big deal my dentist would say, You can just pop it. A little fluid would generally come out.
    This dentist retired

    This was the routine from 1978 or so until last (2004) November.

    I play lead trumpet in a very busy swing band, play in churches, etc and practice.

    November 2004

    That November I noticed once again that the tooth was moving.
    No problem, pull the crown off and have the dentist cement it back. This time I could not just pull the crown off. I went to the dentist on a Wednesday and asked him to pull it off and put it back. He tried and said, The crown was not loose.

    Uh oh!

    The tooth was moving ever so slightly back and forth. He took x-rays and said he thought that perhaps the root was broken. No a real problem. He could open the jaw just above the tooth, expose the root and repair a break in the root.
    He sent me to his oral surgeon for the evaluation. That fellow looked at it and moved it and said he would open it and take a look. I asked to come back Monday so I could play the weekend gigs.
    Monday I was back and the tooth really moved, about an eighth of an inch back and forth. He saw it and said, the root was not broken, the whole tooth was moving. The root was loose in the socket.


    I went back to my dentist who said he would have an oral surgeon remove the tooth and fit me with a “Flipper†while my mouth healed. He said I would heal for about eight weeks.

    Double uh oh!

    The flipper would be like a denture, it would be on the roof of my mouth with one tooth hanging down where the old one was. That did NOT sound like a plan. How would I play with a partial plate on the roof of my mouth? And eight weeks healing??

    I went home and started searching for oral surgeons that do implants.
    After talking to many that just didnt sound right I came across a place that sounded like they could help me.

    They did panoramic x-ray of my head and jaws. They found the problem.
    It seems that the years of having the little bubble every so often was a bad sign. It was called a pustule. It meant there was an infection in the root or surrounding bone. This infection would deteriorate the existing bone. In my case it did so to the point where the tooth was able to move in the socket. My dentist all these years should have done something when I told him of the bubble.

    The bad news¦they would have to pull the tooth. A perfectly good tooth!

    I had explained that I was a musician, and we discussed how long would I not be able to play. He said I needed three weeks off. We argued a little bit. I said three days. He said two weeks and we agreed on 10 days.

    He had also done front tooth implants on another trumpet player.

    They took imprints of my teeth so they could make an appliance. I would not agree to a flipper so he would make something that would fit over my teeth on either side of the extraction with a tooth where mine was. It would be a thin but very sturdy clear plastic and cover three teeth to the right and four teeth to the left of the one removed.

    April 2005

    The surgery would take 90 minutes to 3 hours. They would put me out under general anesthesia and remove the tooth. The only complication would be if there was NO bone left in the socket. Then the price would go up.

    The price went up.

    It turned out that the jawbone was almost completely gone.

    Plan two.

    Now, while I was out they had to go into my chin from inside my mouth, remove a large piece of bone to use as a bone graft. They removed this piece of chin bone and shaped it so that it would fit into the now empty socket and pin it in place with stainless steel pins. Good thing I was asleep.

    I awoken to my son saying Dad sit down. Its over. The oral surgeon came in, put the appliance into my bloody mouth and explained everything that had happened to me. Thats why they have someone there with you. You dont remember or even hear anything he tells you. I looked as though someone had hit me in the mouth with a baseball bat, and didn clean the blood off either.

    More stitches than Carter had Little Liver Pills.

    I slept the rest of the day and much of the next.

    By the third day the swelling was starting to subside. The dentist had given me Vicodin but also said the aspirin would speed the reduction of swelling. I opted for the aspirin.

    Day five.
    I put the mouthpiece to my lips and….buzzed.

    Day six.
    I put it in the horn and played a G, in the staff. I just continued to play the G, long tones until I could feel the tone coming back. I would play for fifteen minutes or so, rest for fifteen and do it again. After about two hours of this I could play the G right on and well. I started to play chromatically down to a C and back up. Same routine, 15 on and off. After about 4 hours of 15 on and off, my lips had swelled again.
    The next day I did the same thing again and was able to play up to a middle C. This day I just slurred from C to C, 15 minutes on and off.
    On day 10 I was able to play to a high C. The bottom did not work well below B though. I just continued to play scales from the Pares book all that day. I did finish by playing September Song though.

    I continued to just play the horn chromatically as high and low as I could comfortably. Lots of scales. I kept it real simple at first, just C scales. I was working on my chops and didnt want to complicate things.

    By using this method of long tones and scales I was able to return to playing by the end of the 2nd week.

    I played a three hour gig with the swing band. Lead. Just a couple times I asked the third player to double me.

    August 2005

    Almost five months now.

    I return to the oral surgeon for part two. They check the jawbone and it has healed and grafted well. Here we go again. This time a 2 hour surgery. General anesthesia, out like a light. They open the gum again and drill into the newly grafted bone to insert the stainless steel post that the implant will be attached to.
    This time they have to take a skin graft from the roof of my mouth to cover the wound and make it esthetically pleasing. This procedure will have to heal six months.

    Home again, the lips are not nearly as swollen as the first time, but the roof of the mouth hurts like…well you know what it hurts like.

    Back to the same routine again with chromatics and long tones. Mostly I work on getting a good tone or sound before I would go on.

    By the end of the week I was back to playing my whole range. Low F# to G above high C. The G is not as solid as before, but the F is. By that I mean if the chart calls for an F in the fourth set, it is there. Full and loud.

    I missed two gigs through this whole procedure.


    I write this to encourage you that you do not have to be afraid of changes in your embouchure. Dont be afraid of dental work either. By going back to basics and working patiently, I was able to return to my whole range and sound in a very short time. Working slowly speeded up my recovery, if you can understand what I mean.

    Take care of your teeth!

    I take care of mine. Beware though of ANY bubbles or pustules and have them looked at. This was a completely fixable problem that cost me a very important healthy tooth!

    I will be going back at the end of March to have the implant installed.
    I know this will probably mean another week of scales and repetitions to get used to the permanent tooth, but it doesnt scare me.

    I will keep you informed of the progress.

    Chuck Willard
  2. Derek Reaban

    Derek Reaban Mezzo Piano User

    Jun 16, 2005
    Tempe, Arizona

    Wow! What an ordeal you are going through! It sounds like you are handling it extremely well.

    I've been through that skin graft procedure. I had two spots on my bottom gums with some significant recession. The oral surgeon patched me up in one session, and I was back to playing in a week. The roof of my mouth really took a long time to heal, but I was playing well after a short amount of time (like you).

    I was also nervous about this procedure (nothing as significant as yours though), but I came through it with no complications and the reading sessions that I had with my Wind Ensemble two weeks after the procedure went very well.

    Best of luck with your final visit.
  3. wrbandel

    wrbandel Pianissimo User

    Mar 9, 2005
    Rochester, MN

    Thanks for sharing your story, and good to hear that you seem to be handling well.

    Stay well, and continued good playing.
  4. Eclipsehornplayer

    Eclipsehornplayer Forte User

    Sep 14, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    Here here Chuck,

    Sorry to hear about the ordeal but such good news to hear that you are still able to swing with the best of them ;-)

    Best wishes,
  5. gregc

    gregc Mezzo Piano User

    Apr 5, 2004
    New York, U.S. of A.
    God bless ya, Chuck. Your my hero! I hate the freakin dentist~
    I will heed your warning however~
    i'm due for a visit.
  6. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

    Jan 12, 2005
    Northern New York
    Chuck- I bow before you.

    A few years back, I went to see an orthodontist about some overlapping front teeth. I just thought he was going to recommend braces; a thought that made me a bit nervous (I've seen what happens to students when they get them). He then went into detail about how he was going to have to break my jaw, then cosmetically rebuild my front. I chickened out and said "No, you aren't!" He was talking about a few years worth of procedures.

    I am still not sure I have the moxy you do to go through that.

    I do, however, visit the dentist regularly and brush 2x daily, floss and use mouthwash.
  7. Alex Yates

    Alex Yates Forte User

    Aug 11, 2005
    Atlanta, GA
    Yeah Chuck...you are an inspiration to many. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. It's tough, but you da' man. (Plus, you have us all behind you) :grouphug:
  8. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN

    That is quite a story, its really too bad you had to go through all that.

    I almost had the same thing. I got hit in the mouth with a baseball when I was 10 - flattened my right front tooth almost all the way back. My doctor 'pulled' it back into place (no, no dentist, no anesthesia, this was a small rural town in 1973) and told me to keep pushing on it. By the time I started playing trumpet a few months later I had forgotten all about it.

    Fast forward to around 1990. My dentist notices a bump above the tooth just to the side of the previously injured tooth. He tells me that both teeth are dead and I need a root canal on the one below the bump. I'm skeptical, but go along with him.

    Luckily, the root canal was a success and I've had no problems since.

    OK, so dentists do know what they're doing once in a while! ;-)
  9. silverstar

    silverstar Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 6, 2005
    Holy monkeys, that's a story!

    Man, and I remember thinking I had it bad when I had braces!

    Like Trptr1 said, "I bow before you".

    That's a great story! I think I will try your exercise to get back to playing my horn...I've been off for about 4 days because of a nasty sinus infection (3rd or 4th since November...GRRRRR!) and I have a big gig with a bunch of other muscians from the local high schools on Saturday.

    Thank you for your wonderful story! That is unbelievable! Wow.

  10. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    I just hope you have good dental insurance! (Maybe that's why he moonlights as a stand-up comic at TrumpetMaster?.... or is that "sit-down" comic?)

    Of course, applying the principal of "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch", you get out of insurance...ANY KIND OF INSURANCE "on average" no more than you put in.

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