Friday, August 21, 2009

Movie Screen

Tomorrow is my last day here, and I will probably spend it putting my last things into boxes and lying around. Then Sunday morning I put everything into the van and drive away. My new life starts Wednesday. I said my last goodbyes, and I'm wishing I could have a conversation with someone that didn't feel so final. I'd be excited for college if I weren't so depressed about everything I'm leaving behind.

I made a visit to the oral surgeon's today. Dad wanted to talk to him about the teeth he should be building sometime here in the next year or so. Let me give you a quick rundown of my dental history first:

When I was in gradeschool, I think about 3rd or 4th grade (maybe even 2nd), they extracted two of my permanent molars in my bottom jaw. These molars were coming in in a motion similar to that of a jumping whale. They were pushing down the teeth in front of them, as well as pushing them forward. Leaving these molars in would have caused seriously crooked teeth, bone atrophy in my jaw and gums, as well as the destruction of quite a few teeth. Pulling them out also risked bone atrophy and meant the teeth would have to be rebuilt when I was an adult, but was still a much better choice.

When I was in junior high, about 8th grade, they extracted two more molars, but this time in my upper jaw, directly above the other missing molars. These molars were baby teeth that would not fall out, and were blocking the growth of adult molars. Only two of the four teeth came in, so I am also missing two molars in my upper jaw.

They gave me an archwire on my lower jaw to keep the gaps open. I outgrew this (it was painful) so they gave me a retainer to tide me over until I could get braces. The braces kept gaps open as well as opened up some gaps and turned around some backwards teeth.

I am an adult now, so it is time for the braces to come off and for the fake teeth to be rebuilt. The surgeon pointed out that the bone in my lower gums had atrophied after all these years, so the teeth there can not be rebuilt. Apparantly, the average person has six to eight milimeters of bone-gums stuff, and I only had three milimeters where it mattered. There is a fix: They can graft some bone onto the area, and then start the implants.

The bone for these grafts will come from much farther back in my jaw, where the bone is much thicker. The procedure is incredibly painful. The surgeon said it was much worse than having all four wisdom teeth extracted at once. Dad pointed out that I had a very high pain tolerance, and the surgeon just smiled and asked if I found that out through sports injuries.

Five to six months after the grafts have healed (but not much later or they will atrophy again), the posts for my fake teeth can me implanted. While these are healing for four to five months I can not chew on them at all, and I will have to be on a soft diet. Then caps will be placed on the posts, and I will be all done forever.

Total cost of tooth extraction (counting wisdom tooth): ~$800
Cost of braces: ~$5,000
Cost of bone graft: ~$8,000
Cost of dental implants: ~$5,000
There are also misc expenses for things like post-op checkups and dental appliances.

"Compared to her, the price of her brother's braces will be a drop in the bucket."
- My original dentist

Really, I just can't wait until I can do things like chew normally, and when brushing and flossing will be all I have to worry about. Despite it all, though, my teeth have always looked nice and straight.

2010 is going to be such a shitty year for me...

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