A New Tooth -- 09/27/02

I've got a new tooth.

Oh, okay, really what I have is the completion of a dental implant process; yesterday my dentist cemented the crown into place. This has been a long process that began when my tooth (a molar on the upper left side) cracked, a crack that went right down to the roots. My dentist shook his head, said he couldn't fix it, sent me to see my periodontist immediately on an emergency basis, he looked at it and agreed, it couldn't be repaired, had to be removed. The options then were a bridge, an implant, or nothing. I cared for neither the first nor the third alternative. A bridge would involve cutting into the adjacent teeth to fasten an artificial tooth in place... considerable discomfort, plus causing deliberate damage to perfectly good teeth to fasten the fake one in place, and eventually it would break or fail or the adjacent teeth would go bad. So... an implant was my choice... even though they are expensive and most dental insurance does not cover a single penny of the cost (but many will cover at least part of the cost of bridgework, even though that is only a temporary solution and in five or ten years may need to be reworked or replaced) The first step was to put in a titanium post... and because I didn't have quite enough jaw bone there for a ten millimeter post, I had to have a bone graft done... and then, after a few months, back to the periodontist to uncover the titanium post and screw a cap on it... let that heal... then to the dentist to have a cast of my mouth made... and then a crown (artificial tooth) made to fit that cast... and then yesterday he fastened the crown to the post (that is, cemented it onto a post that screwed into the titanium implant)... this procedure went so smoothly, didn't even take five minutes.

I am so delighted about this. It looks real. It was almost instantaneous, my mouth felt right again. *sigh* Well, not quite totally right... you see, while these months were passing, I needed work on a lower molar also on my left side... it was a troublesome tooth, one that had had a lot of work done on it... including a bone graft a couple of years ago to try to keep it in place... and this spring when my periodontist began working on it he told me that it was not worth it... that a successful repair was not likely and would only be temporary at best, and that it was in danger of doing damage to the adjacent teeth... and he recommended removal. So, out it came... and eventually a titanium post was inserted.... in about five weeks he's going to open that up and screw on a cap and then my dentist can take over again and have a crown made and maybe before the end of the year that will be completed.

It feels so good to have my new tooth, I'm really impatient now to get the other one completed. Should any of you ever find yourselves facing that question -- implant or bridge -- let me tell you that dental implants are marvelous. Yes, implants are expensive -- by the time the second one is finished I'll have put out around six thousand dollars total -- ouch! -- but, nevertheless, I am so glad that I picked this option. (Actually, although our dental coverage won't pay for the implants, I think they do cover part of the cost of the crowns... uh, I hope.) Hmmm, that's about the price difference between the Toyota Corolla I bought a couple of years ago and the Subaru Forrester that I had really wanted. I guess it's a good thing I got the cheaper car.

Ah, yes, automobiles... teenage drivers... *sigh*

Yesterday Sean wanted to borrow my car to give his friend Kristine a ride home from work and then to go to his scout troop meeting. It was beginning to rain and so I cautioned him about slippery roads, reminding him that light rain can be even more dangerous than heavy rain because roads have accumulated a film of oil and rubber and a light rain can lift this film and give you a surface almost as slippery as ice, and not wash it away as a heavy rain will eventually do. Uh huh. About twenty minutes later he was back to explain how the car just slid as he was pulling into the parking lot where Kristine worked and the left front wheel hit the curb and put a dent in the rim of the wheel. You can tell somebody and tell them and tell them... but all the talk in the world can't compare with one sphincter muscle clamping experience. (One of the problems with the mild winter we had was that I was never able to take him to a nice icy state beach parking lot to practice handling slippery conditions.) Thankfully this happened at a very low speed where the only damage was to the wheel rim and the tire rather than at highway speeds. Dropped my car at A-Quick Tire in Wakefield, to get a tire and rim... (I dropped Nancy off at her school his morning and used her car to get to work.) When I picked up my car I discovered that I only needed to replace the dented rim; they told me the tire damage was only cosmetic, no structural damage... and since that means they were passing up the chance to sell me an eighty dollar tire, it must be okay.

Home alone tonight -- Nancy's eighth graders are having a dance, Sean is working, Jennifer (who has just turned her hair just about this shade of blue again) is out with friends (but she has to go to work at eleven p.m.) Tomorrow Nancy and I are going to a wedding, one of my co-workers is getting married [and just to show you how small a state R.I. really is, the wedding couple built a house on the same road that Nancy's mother lives on (there are only a dozen houses on that street), a couple of years ago when they were planning on building their house she had mentioned at work that the name of the town where they had bought a building lot and I said the name of the street -- "How did you know?" she asked. I hadn't known at all, I had just jokingly named the only street name that I knew in that town.] Anyway, so the wedding will fill up our Saturday... And then Nancy and I have tickets to see Trinity Rep's production of By the Skin of Our Teeth in Providence on Sunday afternoon. And before I'm ready for it, my alarm clock will be ringing on Monday morning.

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Opinionated babbling since Sept. 26, 1996