It all started with a baguette at Bally Hoo in November 2011. What I thought was sand in my BLT turned out to be the back of my front crown. Tooth number 9 to be exact. The panic ensued. What to do when your crown falls apart on the second day of your month long trip to Mexico? Who ya gonna call?
A local friend made a phone call to his dentist and a few hours later I was on the ferry to Cancun. It was a leap of faith/trust, and I had a bad feeling in the chair that first day that it might turn out badly. But the choice was to hop a plane back to the U.S. and end our vacation when it had just started? No way. I decided to take the risk. How bad could it be? Worst case scenario -- I'd have the crown redone at home and my dental insurance would pay.
Oh what a silly decision. A root canal in February 2012 helped for awhile, but the pain started creeping back six months later. Two days before our November trip to Isla Mujeres, dental work on adjacent teeth set it off once again! I'd just seen x-rays of the crown at my recent checkup and the dentist said it looked sound, so I decided to smear Orajel on the damn thing and carry on to Mexico. And if at all possible, I needed to make it to calendar year 2013 since my dental benefits were exhausted for 2012.
Long story short, after multiple trips to my dentist, endodontist, and periodontist in January/February, the decision was made to do a dental implant. I won't go into the technical details, but as my dentist said, it was definitely a crappy crown. The worst case scenario repair ended up being WAY more expensive than I ever envisioned -- about 10 times the cost of the Mexican crown.
I was scheduled for next Monday, March 11th, for the procedure and definitely dreading it. My memories from childhood of tooth extractions were definitely not pleasant, and I'd also heard painful tales from friends of their experience with the implant procedure. Imagine a big screw being drilled into your jaw! I was also unnerved because the original periodontist I'd consulted with had no openings until late March and I wanted some breathing room before my next trip out of the country, so his partner was going to perform the procedure.
Monday afternoon after we'd stuffed ourselves on the $5 hamburger special at the local sports bar, I noticed the answering machine blinking when we walked in the door. (I really need to change the ringer on my cell to the fire alarm ringtone so I don't miss those important calls!) The periodontist I'd wanted to do the procedure had a last minute cancellation if I could get there in a half hour. I decided to just say yes and get the nightmare over.
Thirty minutes later, I pulled into the parking lot and checked in at the reception desk. The procedure, including pulling the offending tooth and placing the implant in my jaw, took a little more than 30 minutes. It was so much less of an ordeal than the original crown prep or even the subsequent root canal. I can't say the tooth extraction was my dream date, but there was no real pain involved. I was out the door in less than 45 minutes with the temporary prosthetic (called a flipper) in place.
I'll admit to taking two of the prescribed Vicodin's the first night. Why suffer? And I'm now adapting to the new normal -- those weird sharp exposed edges of teeth next to the gap in the front of my mouth. When I'm out in public or eating, I wear the annoying prosthetic. Hopefully, I'll also adapt to the feel of that and learn to talk without the lisp and whistle. In four to six months after the bone grows around the implant, a permanent crown will take the place of Flipper.
A few friends have requested a photo of my toothless self posted on the internet. I decline. Somehow a middle-aged woman sans front tooth doesn't look nearly as adorable as your 6-year old. But maybe there is a real Santa Claus and he'll pay for the implant crown for Christmas?
Anyway, that whole Mexican crown thing just didn't work out! I hereby abdicate. : )
Here's an updated profile courtesy of one of my blog readers. Enjoy.