A while back (cf 7/24/09) I mentioned a bit about a tooth extraction. Even though the gap was unobtrusive enough that wife didn’t fit about my place in daughter’s wedding photos, dentist said that it had to be filled. Otherwise other teeth would slowly shift and faults would form. Mandibular plate tectonics.
Both dentist and MD with the pliers said that an implant was the way to go. Research confirmed their recommendations. “A Dental Shift: Implants Instead of Bridges” wrote Jane Brody in the NYT 11/17/09. I read about the procedure and asked my dentist friend what was the longest I could wait before setting something up.
He told me and I added another month and made the appointment. Yesterday was the day. Began with the same daunting consent form. “Swelling, bruising, and pain can occur…Jaw fracture is quite rare… etc.” At least I still didn’t have to worry about the effects of antibiotics on the potency of any birth control.
This operating room was much bigger than last time. “Need more stuff for implants” said nurse. “And room to move”. I noticed the defibrillator on the wall as she took my blood pressure. “Let me cover you up and Doctor will be right in.” She did a pretty good job, but I had worn a red sweater just in case.
Doc came in, put the same hockey puck back in the left side of my mouth, numbed me up, and unrolled his tool pouch. “Just like the ‘surgeon’ at the end of Braveheart” he chuckled. I tried to find something on the ceiling to count.
“First gotta drill me a hole. You ready?” Sounded just like a hammer drill going through a wall. Only louder. He drilled and drilled. I began to worry about an inadvertent trephination. He withdrew the bit just in time and screwed the implant in finger tight which wasn’t very far. Could feel the sharp threads with my tongue.
He fastened a lever onto it and leaned forward. It was a ratchet. OMPH clinkity, OMPH clinkity, OMPH clinkity. “Ok let’s see how we did.” Put one of those cardboardy bits of film in mouth and took x-ray. “Dang”. Ratchet in reverse he backed it out and drilled some more.
Final tightening underway, all I could think about was the countless number of times I have stripped threads while undertaking some mechanical or home repair. Just this side of that sort of mess with neck at ninety degrees and all cervical vertebrae in subluxation, he stopped, threw a few stitches with racquet string and “voila”.
“Uh, that doesn’t feel much like a tooth” I said. “Won’t celery fibers and stuff get hung up around it?”
He laughed. “Don’t worry, we have to wait a few weeks to make sure it’s snug and not infected. Then we’ll spin on a nice new tooth and you’ll be good to go. Nurse here will tell you what to do to stay out of trouble. Soft foods for a week…”
Jeesh. I wrote the big check, stepped outside, sighed, and took a deep breath. The way negative wind chill frosted the thing up like a finial on a fencepost in the Gulag.