Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

10 Months Without a Top Right Incisor: A Reflection

My top right incisor was extracted with metal pliers 10 months ago in a shitty strip mall on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas --- on June 24th, 2006, to be exact.

$6,750 of non-insurance dollars later, I am ecstatic for this Monday when my mouth will receive a permanent tooth implant --- indistinguishable from a natural incisor.

As I write, there's a titanium bolt in my upper jaw that my gums have been trying to accomodate like new bedroom furniture for five months. A perfectly-matched piece of toothy porcelin will be screwed onto that bolt in less than one week. And I'm god damn happy.

Up to now, I've been wearing a "flipper" --- a retainer-like piece of plastic that sticks to the roof of my mouth with a goofy plastic tooth hanging off the front.

My piece-of-crap flipper prevented me from tasting food and drinks properly. You wouldn't think a piece of plastic would have such an effect! For 10 months, I got used to stuffing it in my pocket to fully enjoy Chicken a la Camarguaise or when taking the first sip of a homemade Martini.

And my flipper has never fit. It often fell out during conversations, or sometimes, out of boredom I'd flick it up and down with my tongue, not realizing people were watching.

But many women were attracted to my piratey countenance and when I visited less khaki pants-infected places, the hipster gals' eyes were on me. Had to fight 'em off with a stick because of this gap in my mouth.

I was worried I wouldn't be taken seriously by Asian businessmen abroad but they could give a shit. Most men over there are missing half their teeth and even many women are so bucked-toothed they could eat rice through a picket fence. No one cares.

But the worst part was being reluctant to give a full smile. My flipper was so poorly constructed that I became insecure to show a gum-exposed grin, even in Asia. That's the part I'll miss least.

A tooth is probably the smallest body part to live without but it made a big difference. Now I feel camaraderie with the amputees of the world. Maybe.
When I was in high school, I had braces and at one point in the several year torture, I needed my palette widened. To do this I had a metal plate attached to the roof of my mouth that was anchored to four teeth, 2 on each side. The plate had a little cog with holes on the sides. I had to insert a small key into those holes and turn the cog, which would in turn push the supports to he sides, thus widening my palette. My point? I can commisserate. First off, food constantly got stuck in between the plate and the roof of my mouth...annoying. But probably the most detrimental effect was slurred speech and occassionally drooling on myself when talking to people. This might have been OK in the adult world but in high school world, I was an outcast. So congrats on finally getting the tooth back.
I have a friend in a similar situation: lost a front incisor playing basketball about four years ago. He still hasn't replaced his flipper because he's a cheap ass bastard (has insurance, too).

Insurance companies do not cover implants so he's probably not being unreasonably cheap. I've paid out of pocket almost $7,000 for this implant.
Yeah, those titanium screws can work wonders. Here is a pic of mine immediately following installation:
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