By: Jean Johnson for Dental1
Come along on the real life dental implant journey of Jean Johnson. Get an inside look at the process, recovery and the beginning of life with a new smile.
(Editor’s note: Any treatment undertaken to combat a dental problem has varied results for different individuals. The experiences portrayed here are those of Jean Johnson and would be different from the experiences of other dental implant patients. A conversation with your dental professional is the best way to determine the appropriate course of treatment for you.)
Part One| Part Two| Part Three|Part Four |Part Five
It only took about an hour for the first implant, but since I’ve managed to really botch up my teeth, there are two more to go. So, back into action they go.
|Prepare for your recovery at home:|
Have a video rented or a book or magazine ready to keep you busy.
Prepare soup ahead of time so all you need to do is warm it up.
Have your bath salts and your favorite towel laid out.
Have Ibuprofen as well as your prescribed pain medication – the over the counter medicine may do the trick.
Have two ice bags prepared – once one is warm, you can switch right to the back up.
Be sure you understand all the doctor’s instructions and keep his contact information nearby - just in case.
Keep in mind that just because you feel fine (Novocain in effect) you should take it easy.
Things are pretty much the same the second time around except that his assistant has to use a retractor to keep my tongue out of the way. The cold polish of the metal, though, is smooth against the inside of my mouth, so I don’t mind. Still, I wonder how she manages to work the suction with one hand and hold the retractor with the other.
I’m a pretty patient person, but long about when he gears up for the third implant, I’ve about had enough. My hands are cold, and I hold them up to the warmth of overhead lamp. There’s a stack of blankets in the corner of the counter so I ask for one. His assistant obliges and in seconds a feather weight of blue fleece floats down over my body.
I manage a thank you and also get out how even though it’s been a nice afternoon, I really should be getting on home. They chuckle and he says, “I know. I was thinking of going out for cocktail myself.”
It’s kind of like finding your self only half way out of the Grand Canyon. Nothing much to do but keep putting one foot in front of the other. So with the jazz still noodling around in the background, I hunker down under my blankie while they do their thing. More suction wand against bone, more football head hold, and more of him looking this way and that and measuring and standing up to double check.
Finally though, we come back around to the silk. She clips the threads that held the flap of gum tissue back while he worked, and he pulls the incision back to together and sutures it into place. More flourishing of the gold handled forceps. More snipping of the ends of the black silk. And that’s it.
“Now we’ll power wash you,” he says and rinses my mouth down. Then he packs the site with gauze, and I get some cream from my purse and smooth it over my lips. She gives me an ice bag.
“Do 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off as much as you can for the first 24 hours,” she says. “And avoid anything that might create a vacuum in your mouth. Mainly don’t spit when you brush your teeth, don’t drink from a straw, don’t smoke – that sort of thing.”
She also reminds me to keep taking the antibiotics they had me start a couple days prior, and asks if I got my pain medication filled.
“No,” I say. “He said Ibuprofen should work fine and that high-test stuff makes me sick to my stomach.”
He comes back in to escort me out like he always does. My guy knows that being a cordial host is as important out in the business world as it is at home.
“My cell phone number’s on the bottom of your post-op instructions he says. You did well, though, so you should be OK.”
We go out to the reception counter, and he gives the woman who runs the office my chart. She and I figure out my next appointment, and she totals up the day’s damage. I breathe way deep while I pay the several thousand dollar bill.
He shakes my hand and smiles. “Just stay with your ice and soft foods. We’ll see you next week to take your sutures out.”
So that was it. Two and half, three hours it took. I had a video and cream of broccoli soup I made ahead waiting, so off I went to the couch to rest up and see what would happen when the Lidocaine wore off.
It turned out to be a cake walk. Even after the video ended I didn’t feel a thing. I’d kept up with my Ibuprofen, of course, and the ice packs and the keeping the head elevated routine. And I was careful to have the soup warm not hot.
Even the next day when a little swelling did kick some, it wasn’t bad. I could tell something had gone on, but I kept taking the Ibuprofen and was able work and do my Nordic track and strength training routine. Even my meditation practice slipped by with no more than the usual distractions.
I’d like to say that the ordeal of having dental implants placed is all behind me now. Unfortunately my mouth requires extensive work. But after round one with my guy, I’m not afraid. A little more silk and certainly some more jazz will be just the ticket. It will be cool and some day I’ll emerge with all my implants and crowns in place, not to mention a smile almost as lovely as the one with which I started.