Not the one in the London underground. The one that adorns many an Appalachian smile.
Me? I need no longer worry about that type of gap. My dental implant is complete.
The saga began back in 2013 when my left rear upper molar became infected on a visit to Morelia. For almost a year, a persistent endodontist attempted to save it. But the root was cracked, and bacteria were flooding through like Chinese soldiers swarming over Korean hills.
There was nothing to be done, but to pull the tooth and hope the infection could be controlled. In February 2014, my new dentist (Omar) extracted it (the tooth-- the whole tooth -- and nothing but the tooth).
Because there was now a gap in the chorus line of my upper jaw, my dentist suggested a dental implant. It was not simply for aesthetics. I have lost that battle long ago. But gaps tend to loosen other teeth. Without support they succumb easily.
So, I agreed. I finally started the process around Christmas last year. And it was truly a process. The bone in my upper jaw had receded enough that it would no longer accommodate an implant without a bone graft.
And that is where it all began. For three to four hours, I sat in the dental chair while Omar sliced and diced to slip a piece of cadaver bone onto the top of my jaw. He then drilled and chipped to make a home for the temporary post that would later be replaced by a permanent one.
When I returned to his office last month, the graft had taken, and I was now ready for a shiny new molar (the reverse tooth fairy). And this morning, in it went. That, of course, is it at the top of this essay.
To install it, Omar screwed the permanent post back in place. He then seated the new molar on the post, and screwed it in place.
Yes. Screwed. As if he were mounting a rear view mirror or a fender on a 1994 Toyota pickup.
You may remember the scene in Star Trek: Insurrection where F. Murray Abraham's character undergoes dental and cosmetic surgery in a losing battle to aging. That is about how I felt. At least, the dental part.
But I am now done. The gap is filled. And, other than a couple of followup appointments and being careful with what I eat for a month or two, I am back where I was in December 2013 -- except without the infection.
The total cost? $22,000 (Mx) for the bone graft and post; $12,000 (Mx) for the crown. About $1,924 (US).
Omar wants to install a second implant where a molar was extracted long ago by the Air Force. But I am not certain I want to go through the process again. I am happy to have the tooth he installed.
If I ever return to my Appalachian roots, I will next need to lose a tooth was far more visibility.