It’s over! It’s done! It only took 19 years! This has been a LOOOOONG time coming!! Last Wednesday I finally was able to close the chapter with a big smile on something I have been working on for quite some time. Thanks to the FANTASTIC people at BridgeView Dental here in Austin, I now have resolved the reason I came to see them in the first place…back in 2000!! Let me take you back in time to a much younger me so you can see just how far I’ve come.
Cue the Wayne’s World dream sequence…
It’s 1993 and I’m a freshman at Angelo State University (GO RAMS!!). I am in my friend’s dorm room and have taken a Jolly Rancher from their jar and, as I always do, have started crunching away. Uh oh! Something’s not right! I think I just broke off a part of one of my bottom molars. I use my tongue to check it out and discover that it is true!! So, what does a smart person do? They call the dentist up to make an appointment to have the tooth fixed right away! Ummm…what did I do? I waited…at least a year!! By that time that tooth had broken off a little more so as to expose the nerve and cause a horrible pain while trying to do almost anything. I made an appointment to see a dentist there in town and it was determined that I was going to require a root canal. This was probably one of the most unpleasant things I had had done and was kicking myself that I waited as long as I did to get it fixed.
Jump ahead to 2000. I now live in the Austin area. I have noticed that the crown on my tooth has started moving around and I am now experiencing that horrible tooth pain…which didn’t make sense because they should have removed the nerve when they did the root canal. Hey, it is my mouth after all, so there’s no telling what is going on. I knew I needed to have it looked at, so this time I did the smart thing. I called up 1-800-DENTIST and told them that I needed to find someone who catered to cowards, as I had a pretty good idea what oral dilemma was awaiting me. I was put in contact with BridgeView Dental and the miracle worker Dr. Lance Loveless. He took some x-rays of my problem tooth. After reviewing them he said that the tooth needed to be extracted and that one of two things was going to happen – 1. the tooth would come out whole or 2. (what would most likely happen based on the x-rays) the tooth would crumble and he would have to go in and get it. OH JOY!!! For about 20 minutes I had them checking into whether or not my insurance would cover an oral surgeon to remove the tooth. Remember, I was at his office because I was a COWARD when it came to dental visits. After hearing my hubby’s voice in the back of my head saying, “Oh just suck it up and do it!” I finally gave them the green light and they were off and running. Dr. Loveless told me after he numbed me up, if I felt anything other than what it feels like when someone pushes on your teeth (which doesn’t hurt at all) that I should let him know and he’d numb me up some more. Well, after 4 shots and what seemed like three hours in the chair, the tooth had been successfully removed with no pain!!! It’s a MIRACLE!
Jump ahead a few years. After going in for a cleaning, it was discovered a very important reason for having bottom teeth…to support the top ones. That’s right people, if you are missing a bottom tooth, your top tooth can slowly start to lose its “footing” and will eventually let gravity take over. To prevent this from happening, it would be a good idea to put in a bridge. In case you’re unfamiliar with a bridge in regards to teeth, it involves several steps. In my case, because the tooth that was missing was the second from the back, I had the teeth on either side of the “vacancy” prepped as though a crown was going to be placed on them. Instead of an individual crown, a solid piece that included crowns for each of the two teeth plus a false tooth for the missing one was attached. I now had the support for the upper molar that I had needed. Yay! I’m done!…nope!
Jump ahead a few more years…or whatever…I’ve lost track at this point. I go in for my bi-annual checkup like a good girl as I now have NO FEAR when it comes to dental work. After reviewing the x-rays, it is determined that I have a cavity in my very back molar. So…how is this fixed you ask? Well, you have to remove the bridge, fix the tooth, and then put on a new bridge. Ummm…I don’t think so!! Now here is my BIG MISTAKE! I decided that since this was something somewhat simple, I would find a dentist closer to home…and I did. I had the bridge removed and the filling done, but I was not about to have another bridge put on because I didn’t want to go through the same thing again if I needed another filling…which, come on…it’s my mouth. It was BOUND to happen! So I discussed with the other dentist the idea of putting individual crowns on the two existing teeth and then eventually getting an implant for the missing tooth. One step at a time. In the process of filling the cavity and putting on the crowns, I realized that this new dentist didn’t know how to properly numb my mouth. Yep, it hurt like hell!!! I realized then that I didn’t care how far I had to drive or how much my dentist wanted to charge me, if I didn’t have to deal with pain during dental work then he was the one for me! Back to BridgeView Dental I went with my two crowned teeth and my missing tooth.
It’s now the beginning of 2010. I explained to Dr. Loveless how much I appreciated his pain-free dental work and that I was back for good! We worked out a plan that included me getting an implant for my missing tooth, but I mentioned that I had also wanted to straighten my teeth. He explained that the teeth would need to be straightened before the implant was done because with it being titanium, once it was in it was NOT moving. Additionally, at that time, they were offering a deal for lifetime teeth whitening. You paid one fee and then as long as you come in every 6 months for your checkup, they would give you the gel to put in your teeth whitening trays. I immediately signed up as I figured if I’m gonna spend this much money to have a nice smile it might as well be bright too! We then discussed several options for straightening my teeth and finally went with Invisalign. He figured it would take approximately 10 months. In order for the trays to really “grab on” to my teeth, there were several attachments that had to be added to certain teeth on the top and bottom. They were made from the same thing your enamel-colored fillings were made from, so they just looked like little bumps on the teeth. Most people didn’t even notice them. In regards to the Invisalign trays, I ended up with around 18-20 of them for both my top and bottom teeth that were to be switched out every two weeks. This would mean that before the end of the year my teeth would be straight! WOO HOO!! Things are moving right along!
If only I didn’t have two stubborn teeth in the front!!! Two of my front bottom teeth decided to revolt and declared that they would NOT move!! Those two teeth as well as the ones around them were filed down a little at a time to allow for room to shift. Did they do what they were supposed to do?!? NO!!! It’s now December of 2010 and Dr. Loveless tells me that the good thing about Invisalign is that we can order refinement trays at no additional cost to me. GREAT! Let’s do that! How long will that take? Well, let’s see…you’ll have about 14 trays for the top AND bottom so you should be done with them in…well…a lot later than we had first predicted. Let’s get the implant taken care of first and then we’ll order the refinement trays.
Things are still moving right along. Of course now that my teeth are pretty much where they are going to be, Dr. Loveless says that it is safe for us to go ahead with the implant. This is a process as well. First they take x-rays to determine how much bone you have and where the implant should go. This is all very exact and really quite impressive. Once all the tools/materials arrive for that, you come in and have your jaw drilled and a titanium piece implanted into your jaw. This then has to heal for several months so the bone can grow through it making it a permanent part of your jaw. The first part of this was done and a small metal cap was placed on top. I had absolutely no pain with the whole process and the cap even fit inside my Invisalign tray so there was no problem…except there was. Because the metal cap was sitting above my gum line, it was getting bumped every time I ate something or when I’d put on or take off my trays. Because of this, after several months of it “healing”, the implant never was able to allow the bone to grow through and therefore had to be removed and the whole process started over. In order to start over though, I first had to have a bone graft put in place of the removed implant and allow that to take fully. That process of healing took several months and a lot of patience. When it was finally time to re-do everything, he put a metal cap on it, but this one sat below the gum line so it wouldn’t be bumped. We also ordered the refinement trays so that if there was something in the space of the missing tooth the tray would fit AROUND it instead of over it. BRILLIANT! The refinement trays arrived and I started them immediately as I waited for the bone graft to heal.
It was finally time to re-do the implant, so I headed back in and this time it was done successfully. Now it was “hurry up and wait” time as I continued with the refinement trays. My two stubborn front teeth had to be filed again…and again to make room for them to shift, but they finally moved into place. The implant healed and it was time to order the finishing parts – the implant crown, my Invisalign retainers, and my tooth whitening trays. At one point or another, we’ve probably all been told that you only have one chance to make a good impression…well that’s not true when it comes to the dentist office. It took four tries, but we finally got my tooth impressions done and everything was ordered.
Jump ahead to last Wednesday…or is that back to last Wednesday. Oh whatever! I arrived at the office almost giddy that everything was going to be done…FINALLY! We had joked on many occasions that they should just put me on their payroll considering how often I visited their office. That is one great thing about that office – the people who work there, including Dr. Loveless, are FANTASTIC!! Everything went very smoothly. The implant went in without a hitch. It looked AMAZING!! The attachments were removed from my teeth and my retainer trays fit perfectly! I got my tooth whitening trays and the gel and even got to do my first treatment there. You could already see a difference! I was all smiles as I left their office.
What started back in 1993 with a Jolly Rancher crackdown was finally completed on April 11, 2012. I still enjoy crunching on hard candies and probably always will. I’m sure I’ll occasionally have my recurring dream theme of my teeth falling out. At least now I know not to wait until it’s “tooth-hurty” before going to see the dentist!