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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000683.txt from 1997/12

From: nancy buckman <>
Subj: Re: Wisdom teeth
Date: Sat, 13 Dec 1997 02:48:29 -0500

Concerning wisdom tooth removal:

I am one of those people who is every dentist's dream (or nightmare, if
your not such a good dentist). I had a very small mouth with a highly
arched palate and a receding chin (great face for a woodwind player).

At the age of 10, I had all my teeth temporarily removed to facilitate
the removal of a COMPLETE second set of teeth. After their removal my
permanent teeth were sown back into my mouth and I waited through six
months of torturous recovery while my mouth healed. At the time, I was
only studying piano.

At the age of 11, I was fitted with my first set of braces and had them
unceremoniously removed at the age of 16. Meanwhile, at the age of
twelve, I experienced for the first time, my first bout of TM joint
trouble when my jaw became stuck closed for six weeks. I didn't tell a
soul because I was so traumatized from the experience at age ten.

I began playing the clarinet as soon as the braces came off and very
soon after that began experiencing pain in both TM joints (the joints in
front of the ears). I couldn't play because of the pain, so I went back
to the dentist, had x-rays done and found I had grown more teeth. These
teeth were in my upper jaw and were growing toward the roof of my mouth,
roots down. I had these removed also but the pain didn't go away.

By now I had had enough of dentist's and knives and pliers, so I just
put up with the pain. To make a long story short, I have since endured
three more sets of braces, oral bite plates and splints, enough pain
killers to knock down an elephant and surgeries that run the gamut from
arthroscopic to open TM joint to finally, the breaking and re-setting of
the jaw to compensate for the bone loss after the ravages of TM joint
disease and to correct the receding chin. I still am experiencing the
business of being stuck open or closed at any given time (like right

Breaking the jaw left my lower lip and chin totally numb for about six
months, however I do now have full feeling in all but the very center
edge of my lip. The area affected is about the size of half the head of
a tack. I was aware this problem could occur and had to consider it
when choosing whether or not to have this surgery. It does not present
a problem at all.

In every instance either my parents or myself have made my caregivers
aware of my musical proclivity and the professionals have been most
sensitive about being precise in their planning and execution of my

While I still suffer to this day with major TM joint problems, I must
say that with proper care and treatment, one can still be as musical as
one wishes, if the desire is there. Just remember to write down all the
questions you have concerning your care and if the answers aren't what
you want to hear, look elsewhere (like at a dental school) for a surgeon
who is willing to work with you. Make sure this person knows you are a
woodwind player, is board-certified from an accredited school and ask
how many of these procedures have been done successfully and how many
were failures. If you still have reservations, ask for references.

Good luck to you and I send my best wishes for a speedy recovery.


Jim Lytthans wrote:
> Simon aldrich commented:
> > I know a former professional principal clarinet in a major Canadian orchestra who lost the feeling in half of his lower lip due to a wisdom tooth extraction.
> I had my wisdom teeth taken out about 15 years ago. Three were normal
> extractions, but the lower left was upside dowm, with the roots wrapped
> around the jaw bone. The surgeon had to open up the inner lip area to
> remove the tooth. In the process he bruised the left mendibular (sp?)
> nerve, which controls feeling in the lower lip. Since then I've
> experienced partial numbness in the lower-left lip area. Depending on
> the weather (!), this lack of feeling can be either just annoying or
> somewhat serious. My playing seemed to have suffered little, after a
> six-month period of recovery, during which I could hardy play. I sued
> the dentist in Small Claims Court and collect some of my lost earnings,
> but not all.
> The bottom line is: discuss this kind of oral surgery carefully with
> your doctor. Tell him what you do for a living before the work is done.
> --
> Jim Lytthans "Primo Arundo Donax!"
> Principal Clarinet
> La Mirada (CA) Symphony Orchestra
> Claremont Symphonic Winds
> (
> My home page:

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