It May Look Old But It's New!
Well it's not quite the same as growing your own, but I have managed to gain a new tooth albeit just as slowly and painfully as the first time. It's not an experience I can entirely recommend, however, I am very pleased with the final results. My strong recommendation instead would be to look after your own precious teeth in the first place, but if you do lose a tooth building a new one is certainly an interesting journey. The entire process could take a mere 5 months, for me it was 7, slightly delayed due to finances. This is certainly not a cheap alternative to having your own natural teeth, I seriously think implants should be made of gold considering their cost. In saying that it is only marginally more expensive than a root canal - and I can only imagine that it is a better overall option!
The first part of the process is realising your natural tooth is not salvageable, for me that part was easy. I had already had one tooth removed due to intense pain and infection after breaking in half a year earlier (see new-age-tooth-fairy-something-new), unfortunately it was only a month later that I managed to have my next tooth literally crumble into pieces. Now as it so happened I was eating a lollie at a child's party at the time, however, in my defence I very rarely ever eat lollies and this was a very soft one. I'm guessing it was the stickiness that did it, unfortunately it didn't take much force to turn my tooth into pathetic useless shards and crumbling pieces. To my dentist's shock I was back in his chair much sooner than either of us had anticipated. Again I was tentatively offered a root canal, I think it was my fits of laughter that gave away my position on that suggestion - I guess it's reassuring that he tries! Nope it was back to the periodontist for me.
Thankfully this tooth didn't take the 45 minutes to remove piece by piece like the last one, this one was pulled out quickly in one go. The periodontist showed me that the nerve had already long since died and the evidence of where a ball of infection at the base of the root had been, he praised me for having a high tolerance of pain. Hmmm not so sure I agree with that assessment! I made my appointment to come back for a follow up and then we booked in for the implant, as this tooth was more prominent we decided to replace this one first. I must admit that I was a little shocked when I turned up for my early morning procedure to find all the staff dressed in surgical outfits, wow they were taking this pretty seriously! I guess it's not every day you let someone drill directly into your jaw bone!
Now if you think having a painful tooth is bad, being at the scary dentist is bad, and even having your tooth ripped from your mouth is bad. Well that is not really anything compared to being faced with a room filled with masks, gowns and surgical equipment and realising with horror that you are going to be wide awake for what was coming. Wide awake I surely was, and no I can't open my mouth any wider because I don't want to! There's something really off putting about a man heading toward you with a scalpel followed by a large drill. So first it seems they cut your gum open to expose the bone, great! Then after 'just a bit' of bone scraping you have to open even wider and keep very still while you let this guy you really don't know all that well drill directly into your jaw bone. Now if you think having your teeth drilled into isn't pleasant and an odd feeling, well chanting a mantra to yourself ' it's ok you don't have nerves in your bone' doesn't help too much when your body is reverberating and echoing to the grinding sounds of drill on bone! All the while the ever pleasant assistant is sucking up shards of your jaw to save for late apparently!
Just when you think it surely must be over, you are exposed to yet more gamma rays to find out that no - just a bit deeper will be perfect! Despite reassurance that my jaw was plenty big enough - oodles of room allegedly - it turns out that my teeth like to grow right on the edge of my jaw. Of course my implant also needed to be lined up there which required 'just a little bone graft', apparently what those sucked up bone shards were for. As I lay there with my mouth filled with people and instruments, I'm thinking I'm sure that I didn't know anything about a bone graft, that sounds a bit serious! It's about that time you wish you did opt for a general anaesthetic for the procedure after all, then realise with dismay that it was never seriously offered due to your alleged high pain tolerance!. Hmmm how much am I paying him again?
After what I'm sure reduced yet a few more years from my life tally I was finally allowed to leave with not just a numb lip, but an entirely numb face and nose and sent on my merry way with my new titanium implant and stitches. Stitches! Was that really necessary? That just meant yet another trip back to have them removed a week later. I swear dental rooms seemed to be becoming more of a home away from home than I would have ever agreed to had I known... But then, I was the one that ate that lollie!
Three months on I was given the all clear to have the crown made and screwed into the implant. Great! They thought I would be super keen to have it done. They were wrong! Just as I had suspected that was not a pleasant experience either. It really is just like those holiday brochures that promise a beautiful sunny beach with white sand and crystal clear blue still water; but when you arrive it's the worst storm they have ever encountered and that blue water is as grey as the sky and the pristine white sand is hitting you like a sand blaster. Yep the brochures look nice and glossy, but lying back in the dentist chair and trying as hard as you can not to vomit while your mouth is filled with goo that must stay there until an impression is made, well it's just not that nice and glossy! Even returning a fortnight later to see the amazing colour matched new porcelein tooth lying on a tray with a titanium screw protruding isn't enough to prepare you for the experience of having it wedged unceremoniously back into your mouth. Turns out having a tooth jammed into a space that seemed to very quickly forget there once was a tooth there isn't all that pleasant. Although the nerve is long since dead and the mantra is still chanting 'I can't feel it there are no nerves in bone', as it turns out your gum can and does still feel pain and doesn't appreciate this new tooth being forced into stretching it. Also as the screw is being screwed tighter and tighter into your jaw, you realise all the neighbouring teeth still DO have their nerve roots well attached. Just when the final xray is complete and you think it's pretty much over, of course not. Now you have to have the screw tightened! Isn't that what we already did? Nope, now you really know that you have something stuck between your teeth - a bloody great big tooth!
I have to say despite the ordeal it does look amazing, although not quite as shiny as the gold tooth I had envisioned. Instead it has been carefully aged and tarnished to match its new neighbours. It still feels a little strange, but four days on the discomfort is subsiding and I am remembering to actually try chewing with it again. I definitely like my new tooth, but it has certainly been an unwelcome ordeal to get it. The unfortunate part is I have to do it all over again soon...