The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

7:51pm on Thursday, 13th January, 2005:

Plated Tooth


On Christmas Eve, I had a tooth removed: upper left 2. If people tell you sugar is bad for your teeth, don't believe them. I've lost more teeth to dentists than to sugar.

I wanted this tooth removed, though, because it had some kind of abscess forming on its root. Hmm, maybe I should start from the beginning here...

The tooth originally started to misbehave maybe 15 years ago. An abscess appeared out of nowhere, so the dentist removed the root and capped the tooth to cover the hole he'd made. After about 5 years, the cap broke and I got a replacement. This one had a very long post, which the dentist had to cut down. He didn't cut it enough, though, and after a year or so the cap came out. I went to get it fixed back in, but my regular dentist was away on holiday so I was treated by a locum. He cut a bit more off the length of the post, put the cap back, but didn't hold it straight. It leaned slightly forward. This meant that every time I bit on something there was pressure on the tooth inside, leading to some hairline cracks. These got infected, and led to more abscesses.

I had these abscesses removed by "cut away the gum, cut out the abscess, then stitch it all back together" surgery, performed by a specialist. I had it done twice over about 3 years. The first time, the dentist spoke to his assistant the whole time as if I wasn't there; I figured that this was because most of the patients at the clinic opted for a general anaesthetic rather than a series of numbing injections, but I'd gone for the latter. This meant I was treated to exchanges such as this:

Dentist: My God! Look at this!
Assistant: You've saved worse before.
Dentist: Not often...

The second time I had it done, it was a different specialist who was much less talkative. He merely shook his head a lot.

Things got back to OKish until maybe a couple of years ago, when I noticed a lump in the roof of my mouth. The cap fell out shortly afterwards, the lump cleared, and so the dentist put the cap back. Last year, it happened again, and the cap went back in just fine again. When it came out a third time, though, the dentist had a close look inside and decided that the reason the cap kept coming out was that an abscess was producing blood which was dissolving the cement that held the cap in place. I was going to need an extraction.

I had the extraction on Christmas Eve, and was fitted with a plate. This plate is to last around 4 months, until my gum is hard enough that the dentist can either insert a false tooth into the bone (cost: £2,000) or build a Maryland bridge (cost: £1,300) or a regular bridge (cost: £400, a tooth and any illusion that the bridged teeth might be real). When the dentist inserted the plate, she said it was a good, tight fit. She said I wasn't to remove it except to clean it, but not to worry because I could eat with it, sleep in it, and after a few days I'd be so used to it that I'd forget it was there.


I knew I was in trouble the moment the anaesthetic wore off. It was painful. I didn't panic, though, supposing that it was just my mouth not getting back to its proper shape yet after the swelling from the extraction and the injections. Then, I had something to eat.


One of the must-have features of the mouth insofar as eating is concerned is that the molars must touch one another. Mine no longer did. The plate caught my bottom front teeth prematurely, leaving a gap between my molars wide enough to pass a wooden ruler through. I could only chew things by using my bottom teeth against the plate, which hurt my teeth and wasn't likely to do the plate any good either. Thus, I had to remove the plate to eat anything more substantial than soup.

While I had the plate out, I took the opportunity to file down the rim at the back. I don't mind a tight fit, but the taste of my own blood in my mouth where it was cutting into my palette suggested to me that it was perhaps too tight a fit. I was also starting to notice some other problems with it. Here's a picture for reference:

See those bits at the front, where it has these little spiky bits? Those are supposed to fit between the teeth. Mine were so out of line it was as if they were for someone else's mouth. One of them presses right up against a front tooth, and it has gnaw marks on it where my bottom teeth continually hit it. Another thing: the shape of the plate is meant to be contoured to the roof of the mouth. I'm prepared to believe that my plate is contoured to my mouth, but my mouth as it was before the tooth was removed — abscess lump and all. It certainly doesn't fit my mouth now, anyway.

Still, it was only meant to be temporary, and I don't mind removing it for meals. Sleeping in it is a bit annoying, because it occasionally pops out on its own and I have this lurking suspicion that it'll choke me one night. However, the plate's purpose isn't just cosmetic, it's to stop my other teeth closing up the gap; I therefore do need to wear it whenever I can.

Well, all that was true up until yesterday evening. That's when the plate broke. Take a look at the picture again. See that bit just to the left of the (false) tooth, where it seems to go in a little more than the other cove-like sections do? It used to go in just the same as them, but yesterday a piece snapped off. Now the plate fits so badly I'd be risking death if I wore it in my sleep. My tongue catches on the edge (I'm going to have to file it down) (er, the plate, not my tooth), and I can't say the letter S. Worryingly, there's a nasty taste like polystyrene cement coming out of the break, too.

So, it's round to the dentist tomorrow to make an appointment for her to measure up a new one. I don't know if she can send the original back to the laboratory to let them know their shoddy workmanship has been noticed, but I suspect I'll wind up paying another 100 for the replacement whatever.

Oh well, at least I can scare small children with my grin for the next few weeks.

Referenced by Tooth Update.

Referenced by Yet More Palette Problems.

Referenced by The Tooth is Out There.

Referenced by Acid Reflux.

Referenced by Dental Pain.

Referenced by Long Appointment.

Referenced by Dinner Plate.

Referenced by Queens Roads and The Avenues.

Referenced by Rock Jaw.

Referenced by Mistaken Identity.

Referenced by Out or Out.

Latest entries.

Archived entries.

About this blog.

Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).