Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Adventures in implant land...

Back on June 16, I broke a three-tooth bridge and was pretty mad at myself, the world, nature and all the rest. To be truthful, the crown was anchored on a tooth that was hanging by its own skin and it was just a matter of time until it would go its own, separate way. The consequences however were pretty grim because I now looked like a toothless bum and it would cost me a bunch of dough to repair the damage. My dentist re-glued the crowns in place and told me that, short of remaining toothless, a few implants and brand new crowns were my sole option, so I immediately went shopping for all these items.

My first stop was at my oral surgeon who had already performed four implants procedures on me. The first two failed after five year, but their replacement are now ten year old and seemingly going strong, so I had reasonably good reasons to trust the guy, and on top of that he had successfully separated eight invasive wisdom teeth from my two kids. So I went to see him, he took a quick, old-fashion x-ray of the damaged area, pinched my inside jaw bone in a “caliper” fashion, and determined (how could he?) that I needed a bone graft, and after four month of binding time, would install the implants. The whole process would almost last a full year, would be very costly and I didn't like what I heard.

I then wen to see ClearChoice a company that aggressively advertises on TV and they gave me the full dog-and-pony show, telling me that I could walk out of their place, the day of my operation, with my new crowns and that their process was a true one-stop repair. Too good to be true? Most likely, but what I liked was that they didn't just take an x-ray of my jaw, but a true three-dimensional scan of the bone structure, so they could instantly see that there was enough jaw bone and that I didn't need any bone graft, saving me both time and money. If you're still with me, I began to feel much better because of the shorter time it would take and of the savings it would mean, but I still didn't believe that crowns should be anchored so soon in the process.

So I searched for more oral surgeons and, lo and behold, found one just in Park City who was able to neutralize my skepticism and gave me enough sound reasons to go with him, including state of the art scanning equipment. I decided to go with him and also choose not to have a full anesthesia, as the aftermath is always an experience I could very well do without, and I'm also curious and wanted to see the whole procedure from the “comfort” of my seat. So last week, I bravely confronted my task, took my iPod and sat on the torture chair. The surgeon first had to extract the faulty tooth and it took him lots of time, attempts, and re-strategizing before he could separate me from a pair of roots that didn't want to leave. It was interesting to see his ups and downs, with his losing his temper at time, getting nervous and the whole bit.

As he started drilling to seat the implants in place, as was second-guessing his technical skills and his ability to center properly the tiny implants; to my relief, he took a couple of x-ray in the process to verify what he was doing. The whole process was a noisy, vibrating and very uncomfortable one, but I stuck with it and since I had little other choice, I kept on imagining that I was practicing some sort of very dangerous sport, the kind that produces a flow of adrenaline and that keeps you wondering if you'll make it out alive. Again, I was mostly concerned about precision drilling and wasn't sure my implants would be place in the right spot; I was also concerned that the surgeon might lose his cool, give everything up, flee to Canada and leave me strapped on my chair!

This mind-game kept me in the chair till the bitter end, and after that, I ended up being totally exhausted. To top it off, I had to go and see my regular dentist to get a temporary set of teeth affixed to my mouth for the five month during which the implants will have to bond with my jawbone, but all in all, all this excitement made up for a very adventurous afternoon...

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