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11:12am on Saturday, 16th February, 2008:

Rock Jaw


So, yesterday I spent an hour and 20 minutes at the dentist's in the latest installment of my quest to get an implant where my upper left 2 used to be. Last year, the dentist cut out a cyst and some infected bone (I think he missed some, but that's another story), leaving a gap. He couldn't put the implant in the gap because it was too big: he needed for the bone to grow back. Thus, he waited a few months until yesterday, when there would be plenty of bone to use.

The way it's supposed to work, he pokes some split pins into the jaw and then widens them, thereby pushing the bone apart and leaving a nice gap into which to place the implant. The pins are then removed, the bone clamps onto the side of the implant, and voila! A nicely-held base unit into which he can screw a tooth in a few months' time.

That is, as I said, how it's supposed to work...

Bone regrowth is normally quite soft, which is how you can push it apart. It hardens later, but it starts off soft. Well, mine may have started off soft, but it got hard a lot quicker than bones usually get hard. It was more like rock than rubber. The dentist kept trying to push in the pins, rotating them like you might do if you were trying to make a hole in a piece of wood with a dibber, but he made no impact whatsoever. Well, except on two occasions when the point slipped off and went into the roof of my mouth — that made an impact. I thought he was going to have to get a hammer.

Instead, though, he gave up and used a drill. The bit was huge in dental terms, being about 4mm in diameter and 3cm long. It was slow, too, so my entire head felt as if it was up against the side of the engine of a mechanical digger. Above the noise, I heard the dentist say, "I should have put it in before the bone regrowth...".

I came out alive, anyway, and now have a piece of metal in my upper jaw, waiting for the bone around it to regrow again so a tooth can be placed in it. It's painful, but no more so than being dragged across tarmac attached to the back of a motorbike.

I hope he didn't put it in upside-down.

Referenced by Mistaken Identity.

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Copyright © 2008 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).