The Tooth

When they (whomever “they” is) determine the cost of raising a child, do they include miscellaneous costs like a $3,000 implant from the oral surgeon that you might need after your 17 month old headbutts you at church and breaks your front tooth?


Let’s back up. When I was 16, I was in a gnarly car wreck. After breaking 5 ribs, compressing 6 vertebrae, having both of my lungs collapse, and being airlifted to spend time in the ICU to recover, I was super lucky to be alive. I had a hairline fracture on my front tooth (#9), probably from hitting the steering wheel or something, but it never seemed to cause any issues and I could only see it under intense direct light, so that particular “injury” was pretty much ignored.

Fast forward 15 years, and when I was 31, I asked the dentist about my tooth starting to discolor a bit, and after doing some x-rays, they determined that tooth was suffering from internal resorption, which basically means the tooth was decaying from the inside out. This usually happens as a result of trauma, aka the blunt force trauma when I was 16.

I had a root canal done to try to save the tooth, and it seemed to work. Two years have passed, and my tooth was hanging in there fine and hadn’t had any further discoloration issues. The dentist warned me at the time that he gave it a “fair chance of lasting 5 years” – but I had gone that route because the ballpark estimate for a dental implant instead was $5.000 so I wanted time to save up for it, plus I was hoping it would last much longer than the 5 year estimate.

Well, last Sunday we went to church, and during the children’s sermon Harvey was being a wild man, so I ended up sitting down up front with him and pulling him into my lap. He did the classic back arch and threw his head back in an attempt to escape from my lap, and the back of his head connected squarely with my damn #9 tooth.

I’m not kidding when I say that I instantly knew my tooth was done for. I had at least a half a dozen people come up to me afterwards and ask if he broke my tooth because they saw the expression on my face, and I told them I was pretty sure he had. You see, my tooth literally bent BACKWARDS in towards my throat a few millimeters when he hit, and I had used my thumb to push it back into place. You shouldn’t be able to move your front tooth that far with your thumb, right?

[Side note, I have had nightmares about my teeth falling out ever since I was a kid. It’s always some random tooth and I’m in the middle of hanging out with people and it just breaks and/or falls out and I push it back it and try to hold it in place with my tongue while I frantically try to hide the problem from those around me. Weird, right? My sister just told me she has the same dream, which I think is even weirder. Do any of you?!]

At any rate, my mother-in-law is a dental assistant, so first thing Monday morning I walked across the street to her office and she took a couple of x-rays and had the dentist take a quick look. Sure enough, you could see what looked like a hairline fracture across my tooth just above the gum line.

6-8-15 PA

My tooth was super tender, I couldn’t bite anything with it, and it still had a little movement, so my next step was to go back on my lunch break to have new molds made (and prayed we wouldn’t accidentally extract my tooth while making them!) and call the oral surgeon in the town 30 miles north of here to see when I could get a consult for a possible implant.

Yesterday I took the afternoon off so I could go and see the oral surgeon, and they did a really rad 3d x-ray of my entire head. It was VERY cool! Once we got to the exam room, she zoomed in on my tooth so she could really see what she was looking at.

2015-06-11 14.38.59 2015-06-11 15.04.38

Basically, it was decently good news. Because she can see some sort of abnormality but no full fracture, she is hopeful that I *might* be able to keep my front tooth. We are going to give it one full month and reassess. She thinks that when my tooth bent backwards that the ENTIRE tooth moved – crown & root – so instead of snapping it just hurts like a bitch and will hopefully heal. If she’s wrong and I’m still having pain and tenderness in a month, then she recommends I move forward with the implant because I have such a high smile line and thin gums already that she doesn’t want to risk me losing more gum and having more discoloration if the tooth continues to have issues.

2015-06-09 20.50.57-1

#9 is your front left tooth, so it’s the front RIGHT tooth in this photo. You can kind of see in this pic that it’s a little discolored (yellow/gray) from the 15 years of resorption that happened before my root canal.

With an implant, I would go in for surgery and she would remove my tooth – hopefully with the root intact, all in one piece. If she can do that all at once, she would then place the implant (it sort of looks like a screw and goes in where the root used to be). That has to heal for 4 MONTHS, during which time I’d have a fake flipper tooth on a retainer. Upside – at least I’d have a tooth, downside – they’re hard to eat with, so I basically wouldn’t eat in public for 4 months because you’re supposed to leave it out as much as possible for healing purposes which means I’d be walking around WITH NO FRONT TOOTH. Oh my goodness. I’m so praying I don’t have to do this. Also, if she can’t place the implant at the same time, add 3 months to that timeline while you heal BEFORE the initial implant is place. Gah! At any rate, after 4 months, I’d go back for the placement of the crown part of the implant, I’d write a check for $3-5k (she’s thinking I’d be on the $3k end of the range), and then we’d hope it’d have a nice, long life and look normal like my other teeth.

So there ya go – I’m sure that’s more than you ever wanted to know about my teeth, but that’s what I’ve been dealing with this past week! I’m going to spend the next month babying that tooth, cutting all my food into small bites so I can chew on the right side only, and praying that the tooth heals and quits moving and doesn’t need to be replaced.



  1. Oh wow. You’re the second person I know with a serious headbutt injury this week. I hope your tooth heals! I have teeth falling out dreams sometimes too. I read that it usually happens in times of stress and signifies your feelings of loss of control. Or whatever 🙂

  2. slm1441 · · Reply

    First, I’m sooo sorry you’re going through this. What a pain (literally) and I’m sure that’s not how you want to spend your money.

    Regarding the tooth falling out dream, it’s actually one of the most common dreams believe it or not.

    Who knew, right?

    Shannon (sitting in a tree)

  3. nonsequiturchica · · Reply

    Ouch! Not to scare you but I have a good friend from college that had to go the implant route in high school. One day when we were in the pool for track practice the tooth fell out and so she just had the implant. We were able to find the fake tooth at the bottom of the pool but she couldn’t just stick it back in so she pushed gum where her tooth would be until she could see the dentist. Her implant was one of her front teeth as well. We laugh about it now- especially because it was the hottest guy on our team that found the tooth at the bottom of the pool!

  4. mcmissis · · Reply

    Wow! There are so many crazy parts of this post. I think you might have mentioned a bad car accident when you were younger once before, but I didn’t know it was THAT bad. How scary. I have heard that the tooth falling out dream is quite common, but I don’t remember ever having one myself. My grandma had a retainer with a fake tooth during my entire childhood, and we thought it was delightful and hilarious. It’s charming as an old, British grandmother, but I would hate for that to happen to me as a young woman! Even for four months! I’m so sorry 🙁

  5. ZOMG! I have that dream from time to time, and very frequently when I had braces in university. I have read Mrs. T’s explanation of it and think I agree. The sister dream to that is having an exam tomorrow in a class I didn’t know I was taking. Usually history. HMMMMMMM.

    ANYWAY. *Shudder* But cool to see the inside of your head!!! Which reminds me that I have a CD of my xrays from the chiropractor. HURRAY!

    Please, Tooth Jesus, fix Josey’s tooth without too much trouble!!!

  6. I have the same thing, different tooth (the one next to yours, so still front) from a car accident (airbag) and we’ve done two Apico root canals trying to save it. It is completely dead, but calcified well so everyone is hopeful. I HATE mouth procedures and would struggle greatly with the implant. Reading this almost made me throw up.

    I am so, so, SO sorry you’re dealing with this. That SUCKS. I am hoping, hoping that they can save it for you.

  7. I totally have that dream! And every time I’m walking upstairs I am terrified I’m going to miss a step and bust my front teeth. I am in the midst of doing an implant right now and it is expensive but it’s not terribly painful except for the tooth extraction. I hope that everything heals and you don’t have to go through it though.

  8. The Redhead · · Reply

    Oh wow, I can totally relate to the mouth drama! I was actually born lacking 3 permanent teeth (the 2 on top that are on either side of the middle 2 and 1 molar on the bottom right). In junior high (as if that isn’t already a horrible time of life) they finally pulled the 2 baby teeth on top and strapped on braces (the full-on metal ones, not those fancy invisible ones they have nowadays) to spread my upper teeth apart in preparation for eventual implants. I literally spent 2 years in junior high and freshman year of high school with MISSING teeth on top. Like a jack-o-lantern. Ugh. Then I finally got my retainer w/ the fake teeth and the plan was to do implants after I stopped growing. So during college they attempted to do the implants, but unfortunately I didn’t have enough bone to support the “screw” part of it (HOW they didn’t know this from xrays is beyond me) and so it was back to a retainer. Eventually, I wound up getting a butterfly bridge, so basically I have 2 fake teeth that are attached with metal “wings” to the backs of the teeth on either side on top. And I have a baby molar still on the bottom that they’re just leaving alone unless it becomes an issue someday. So yeah… I fell your pain! Mouth drama sucks. And I have had so many nightmares about my teeth falling out and/or breaking or whatever over the years. I haven’t bit directly into an apple or corn on the cob or just about anything else since I was 12. I’m so paranoid about breaking one of my bridges! So sorry you’re dealing with this. Good luck with everything and hopefully you’ll get to keep your tooth as it is and not even go down the implant road!

  9. Oh no, so sorry that you are going through this! Those toddler head slams – man, they have some hard skulls. It’s a miracle things like this don’t happen more often. Crossing my fingers that the tooth can be saved.

  10. kaseypowers · · Reply

    Oh no! My mom had a tooth pulled two weeks ago with the implant screw put in. I still haven’t gotten the full story of exactly what happened. But she has the flipper tooth and you really can’t tell when it’s in. Hoping the tooth can be saved for a few more years.

  11. 1) my bestie Elizabeth had to do the whole implant think with her front tooth too and on the bright side she said said it really wasn’t to hard to eat with. In fact she didn’t mind it so much that she was fine putting the final surgery off for several months bc she was just busy. 2) I have that tooth dream all the time. And do you remember La Lecon? j’ai mal aux dents!!! Just saying they all die… Freaks. Me. Out.

  12. Oh my gosh! This not great news!

    My Mom had to do implants. She had ALL of her teeth pulled as a result of her kidney failure. She had to learn to eat with those “flippers”, as you described them. 🙁 I have TOTAL confidence that you can eat well with just one. It took her some time, but she did ok with a whole mouth full of them… You can do it. Totally.

  13. I often have the jarring teeth falling out dream, but that’s a result of me falling up the stairs and knocking out my 4 front teeth. I have two implants up there and I tell you it is a process. I did eat in public with the flipper, i was in college at the time. I broke everything up in bite size pieces and placed it in the back of my mouth to chew it up. it was a pretty terrible experience. I still can’t eat an apple or place too much pressure on my front teeth. There have been many times the kids have knocked me in the head and I was pretty sure they’d knocked my damn fake teeth in but so far they’ve held up.

    Anyway. It will be ok! The money SUCKS, but the flipper isn’t so bad and once you have the implant they’re pretty good for a long, long time. Totally sucks that this happened, though!

  14. Yeowch! I don’t have teeth dreams, but seem to be the odd one out when it comes to that. :). I hope it heals and you don’t have to deal with getting an implant!

  15. […] 6 weeks ago I wrote about my front tooth that Harvey had injured with an insanely painful head-butt at church one day. We were giving it […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: