You Can’t Handle the Tooth! Part I

I’m rounding third base on my dental implant journey and thought it was time to jot down as much of my experience as possible, just in case someone somewhere is preparing to go down the same road. I found the input from other toothless folks to be quite helpful! It’s been a long journey, but now that I’m near the end I can confidently say it’s well worth the wait. I try not to take for granted the fact that I am blessed to not only have the financial ability to pay for such a pricey process, but also that I’ve had excellent and consistent dental care my whole life. That is not the case for many people and I understand how much our smile can influence our confidence. Not only that, but a significant deal of pain and other ailments can stem from poor dental health. I’m so thankful and impressed when I hear of dentists giving their time to care for the mouths of those unable to afford the care on their own. Now on to my dental implant experience. Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

When I reached my middle school years and it became time to sort out my mouth, we learned that I was missing my adult lateral incisors (yes, I had to look that up), which are on either side of my front teeth. It’s genetic and generally, but not always, skips a generation. The first set of braces I had were quite shiny, covered in red and green rubber bands (Merry Christmas!) and had two pontics (AKA fake teeth) attached to the wires. I wore these with no problem and then moved into a retainer with the attached teeth (see below).

What? You didn’t keep your retainer from high school in the attic for over 20 years, too?!

After my wisdom teeth were removed and I reached 18 or so, my parents took me to a recommended periodontist to learn more about implants. Because I didn’t have enough gum or bone available, they advised me to pursue bridges as the best option at that time. I had two Maryland bridges placed by a local dentist that worked in this area and he was using innovative material that meant other dentists and those in training came to spy into my mouth during the process. There were only a few incidents here and there, including a time where I dropped one of the loose teeth in between the seats of my car and my doctor came out to the parking lot and used his dental tools to try and rescue it. No luck. He found an old french fry and had to order another tooth. The original bridges lasted close to twenty-five years, well over the expected lifespan. Mind you, I never bit into apples and the corn was sliced off the cobb, but that’s still quite impressive.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. One stubborn pontic did not want to stay put and popped out several times before I realized it was time for a new set or something different. One decent part of the stubborn loose tooth was that it popped off right at the beginning of Covid shutdown, which afforded me some space from social gatherings and the “joy” of covering up those bad boys with a mask! The new process began with 1,001 consultations and I’ll explain more in part 2!

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