One issue that I find that gets overlooked when recovering from an Acoustic Neuroma is Dental Care. I think it might be that your health care practitioners are so concerned about complications from the surgery, your balance and hearing (or lack of) to give it any attention. That’s OK. It doesn’t really start to be a concern until after you are recovering from those things. You are probably not eating many of the foods that would cause issues in your mouth yet. Not all AN suffers will get this. You either have them temporarily or as part of your “new normal”. Whatever the case, I am going to explain what you might expect dental wise after your surgery.
You Favour the Non-AN side of Your Mouth When You Chew
This one is probably experienced by all of us. You consciously try to chew on your AN side but for some reason the food just wants to go to the other side of your mouth. If I am chewing something soft like a banana or a piece of gum it is not a problem but if it is something more substantial like a steak it goes to my non-AN side. The problem here is your non-AN teeth and gums are doing all the work. If you have problems with your teeth and / or gums on that side, that presents a real problem. For me my dentist thought I needed a root canal on a important back tooth on my non-AN side. Upon further examination, he decided it only needed a filling. Great! Unfortunately the tooth is now really small. It does the lion share of chewing so my jaw around it often gets sore. I always get food stuck in it. One remedy I use is to floss at least once a day to make sure food doesn’t sit in between my teeth on that side. My night time routine is to floss, brush and rinse. I ensure that the area is clean at all times. I know everyone should be doing this to keep the dentist away but it is very important if you favour the non-AN side of your mouth when you chew.
You Have Food Stuck in Your Cheek at the End of the Night
No you are not a chipmunk storing nuts for the winter! Your facial palsy, allbeit temporary or permanent, leaves you with a little less sensitivity in that area. You go to brush your teeth and low and behold there are remnants of that night’s dinner stored in your cheek. For me its usually salad or bits of chewed up meat. It is not nearly as bad as after my first surgery. Invest in a Waterpik. It will take care of what you can’t feel in your mouth. I don’t use it as much as I used but adding it to your dental care regimen will really help you out.
You Bite or Burn Your Lip on the AN side and Not know it
This part always gets me. It is usually when I am eating a submarine sandwich. The larger bun always makes you need to take a larger bite than normal. After I take a bite I see that there is blood on the rest of my sandwich. You guessed it, I bit my lip. Of course I didn’t feel it. This is something you always have to be aware of. If I am really hungry I can eat quicker if I use the AN side of my mouth to start eating the food if it is hot. This is not always a good preposition. A good example was when I was barbecuing and I decided to sample what I was cooking. I took a bite from the grill not knowing how hot it was and I burned my lip. A whole layer of skin came off on a small spot on my lip, oops. As you recover these issues will probably get better but if you are left with some facial numbness it is good to know.
You Have Callous Built up on the Inside of Your Cheek
This is a weird one. I don’t know if it is from chewing or from the inside of my AN-side cheek rubbing up against itself but I have a callous about 1 inch long. It used to be bigger but as I recovered it got smaller to what it is now. Of course all the steps for dental care I mentioned above will help. Keeping your mouth generally clean will help any issues with this.
I am sure there are other things to be aware of with respect to dental care and your Acoustic Neuroma. This is what I have experienced. The takeaway here is that you might have to be a little more particular with your dental care after your surgery, when you are recovering and beyond. Doing so should lead to less eventful visits to the Dentist!