I have suffered dental phobia/anxiety for just about forever. I’m fine once I’m in the chair being worked on, but scheduling the appointment and driving to the dentist’s office push me over the edge.
Which means I was just so thrilled when, three weeks ago, while I was eating some fairly soft food, the back of one of my teeth fell off. My knees went wobbly, and I sagged to the floor almost immediately. Once I’d recovered, I went to show B the fragment, and he just sighed.
The next day, the filling that had been in the tooth came out.
It was time for me to face the reality that I was going to have to make an appointment with the dentist and drive myself there.
The dentist, who is new to me, delivered some very bad news. The tooth had broken off below the gum line, meaning there’s not enough material remaining to anchor a crown. I need a dental implant – something I’d always hoped to avoid.
Last week I visited the periodontist the dentist recommended, and she confirmed the news. She then went through what the procedure will entail, and her office manager went through the price list.
I knew it was going to be expensive, but I didn’t know it was going to be THAT expensive. B wanted me to get information on how much other people had paid, so I put out a call on facebook for any friends who had had an implant done to see how much they had paid.
A friend from high school e-mailed that her dad was a perio and said she’d ask him about pricing. The verdict is that the quote I got from my perio is “in the ballpark” of normal. It’s reassuring to know that I’m being charged an arm and a leg, not an arm and a leg and another leg.
And this gets to the root of why I’m afraid of the dentist. It seems that every time I go, even if it’s just for a routine cleaning, I end up needing thousands of dollars of dental work done. Five years ago, I spent two mornings a week for the whole summer in the dentist’s chair. It turns out that my previous dentist was a quack, and everything he’d done needed to be repaired along with some new stuff. By the end of the summer, I’d spend $15,000 (yes you read that right) on dental work that included three root canals and crowns and multiple fillings.
Next week, I go in on Tuesday for the first step of the process. They’ll extract my tooth and then insert bone graft material in the pocket in my jaw. Then they’ll cover that with tissue harvested from the roof of my mouth. It makes me gag just thinking about it. Four months from now, they’ll check to see if the bone graft has settled well enough to implant a titanium screw in my jaw. If my jaw isn’t ready, I’ll have to wait another two months. Once the screw is implanted, I’ll wait another few months for the site to heal. And then my dentist will put in the crown.
It’s going to take close to a year for the whole process. Which is good, because I’ll need that long to save my pennies to pay for it.
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