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.
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.
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.
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.