Thursday, January 8, 2009
Implants anyone? (If you're sqeamish about teeth, don't read this)
Keeping a healthy mouth is a full-time job for me. I have suffered with bruxism for as long as I have had teeth. When I was two years old, my sister complained that my teeth grinding kept her awake at night. I don't know what kind of stress I had at two, but I'm still doing it.
The grinding led to TMJ - temporomandibular joint problems. About 25 years ago, my face hurt so bad from my dislocated jaw, that I needed braces. And I had beat up my front teeth so bad that it took bone grafts to save them. I continue to see a periodontist 3 times a year, and I wear night guards (retainers) to protect my teeth from the continued grinding.
Retainers don't last forever. I replaced the lower one about five years ago, and the upper one in August. The fitting process took several visits. But I'm still grinding away at night, and the teeth did some moving to adjust to the new retainer.
At my last regular periodontist visit, I told the technician that I noticed a few days earlier that my bridge seemed to be loose. The X-ray above confirmed the problem...not a loose bridge, but a cracked tooth. (Don't you love digital technology. No more developing of X-rays in a dark room. You can see them immediately on the screen of the laptop, even magnify that sucker.)
That was December 19. The Periodontist started drooling at the mouth and suggested two implants. He could do it before Christmas!! I wasn't ready to do anything so drastic without a second opinion, especially considering the cost. He hadn't told me what the cost would be, but I was imagining having to take out a second mortgage. I left there feeling the need for a good cry. We went to see "Seven Pounds" and that didn't help any.
I called my dentist that afternoon, and left a message. He doesn't work on Friday. I didn't find out until the next week that he was taking off until January 5.
I finally saw him this morning. We talked about options. The cracked tooth was also decayed, and I didn't feel any pain with it because it had a root canal. It would have to come out. He said the implants would cost about $3,600 per tooth (two teeth)!! If I were 20 years younger, and still working, I might have gone with that. But we decided on the cheaper route. In any case, I'm nursing a swollen jaw, and mourning the loss of another tooth.