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Seeing the dentist from inside of my mouth

We are all aware that there is often a big difference between reality and wishful thinking, both in life and advertising. Case in point, dental implants. You’ve seen the ads on television and the unwelcome blurbs on your computer. Both stress that it’s the wave of the future, quick and relatively affordable. After a failed root canal and the resulting extraction, I opted for an implant – thinking the procedure sounded better than the alternative which would, at the very least, do damage to the surrounding teeth.

I found out on the day of the extraction that there would be a six month wait so that the extraction stitches and the gum would have a chance to heal. Six months sounded like forever, but I went for it – even after I found out the cost, which was a lot more than I had anticipated due to my dental insurance covering far less than I anticipated. Expect the cost of an implant to be “pricey.” Check the cost from the very first.

At the end of six long months, I was back in the chair. Quickly, I got five shots in my gum. I felt every one. It wasn’t really any worse than the earlier extraction, but it wasn’t any easier either. The cutting of the gum wasn’t too bad. Just what you would expect. Then, they decided to take another x-ray. Usually I really hate x-rays as I have a very small mouth, but I figured that the shots would kill that pain as well. I was right about that. Then I learned that the x-ray indicated an unpleasant surprise. There was a small spot in the gum which hadn’t fully healed. Even before I was told what that meant, I knew it was a bad thing. It made the success of the implant less assured.

To enhance the chance of success, it was decided that I needed additional shots in the new incision to increase the likelihood of a successful graft. The shots deemed necessary were five in number. All in the same general area – where the jaw bone had been exposed and the post had been inserted. It was not pleasant, especially as the injections all seemed to be delivered with unusual force.

Shortly thereafter, the stitches were applied. I thought they would be the kind that dissolve in the flesh. I was wrong again. To keep the inserted post in place, they used the kind of thread that did not dissolve. The stitches were very rough and I subsequently learned that they attracted food like a magnet. When I got out of the chair, I learned I needed to come back in about three weeks to have them removed. Then I got the bad news!

Since there had been a small spot that hadn’t healed as expected following the extraction, I got the news that the tooth would not be able to be attached to the post in three months as originally planned. Instead, I would have to wait for six to nine months. That’s a long time!

The next day, my jaw developed a somewhat large, hard lump. Apparently, gums do not like getting ten shots in about the same spot. I can’t say I didn’t understand.

The bottom line is that what you anticipate regarding a dental implant and especially what the ads suggest will be accomplished without a hitch doesn’t always work out exactly as planned. Be prepared to be surprised and not always pleasantly. Dental visits in the final analysis are a lot like life and why shouldn’t they be? They are a part of life.

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Image: Visit to the Dentist is a composite photo created by LikeTheDew.com from inspired by a photo by Eric Wienke (flickr/CC) - the base photo of the dentist is by John Twohig via flickr and used under a Creative Commons license; the photo of the inside of a mouth is by dimjul and licensed by LikeTheDew.com at DepositPhotos.com.
Dr. Dorothy Ann Boyd-Bragg

Dr. Dorothy Ann Boyd-Bragg

Dorothy A. Boyd-Bragg is a Professor of History, Emerita, James Madison University. She received her Ph.D. from Temple University; the M.A. from Ohio State University; and the M.A.T. and B.A. from Temple University. She is the author of fourteen books and numerous articles and reviews. In addition, she has edited and indexed extensively. She is currently at work with her husband, Captain Robert L. Bragg, on One Hundred and One Aviation Stories I Tell my Friends: More, Much More, Than the Tenerife Crash.