Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My 39th Appointment and 2 more implants.

On January 9th after a long hiatus, I went in for my second and third of six dental implants, and my sixth major dental surgical appointment. In case you don't know, student dentists often go on rotation, working in different departments or in the case of 4th years, with entirely different educational institutions altogether in different parts of the country. This has proved particularly difficult in trying to work around in order to allow Rakhee to be directly involved in my treatment (rather than her other classmates who have often assisted, or her mentee student) but also to find times when her schedule, the implant specialist for the school's schedule, my work schedule, and also that of my friends who have helped me with rides to the 30 mile away clinic to all manage to line up. I had hoped this surgery could come a month sooner, but we could not resolve the time conflicts. Some people might ask, "Wouldn't it be easier to just go someplace else to get implants?" but that is not an option to me. Rakhee and I began this journey together, and I aim to try my best to allow her to be a part of as much of the restoration and completion of my treatment plan as possible while she is still available. We are a team. I'm not sure I could explain that any better to anyone but us. Those four words are the only ones I need to explain it to myself.
These implants were basically the same as the first one, so I will spare you the majority of the details. Surgeries are a little more intense than other appointments in every sense of the word, and there are also three people hovering over me and my mouth at all times so I don't get the luxury to really take many pictures, but I did snap a few that I will share with you.
Before we began, Rakhee's student assistant El mentioned how great the tray looked and how she wished she could remember this exact set-up to use in the future. I happily accommodated and took this picture for her. Hope she reads this!

Here is a pic of all the Zimmer drill bits and tools for implant placement. I'm curious what the colors mean. Note there are several diameters to drill increasingly large pilot holes until the necessary width of the hole is achieved. In this case, my particular implants were both 4.7mm.
Here is a slightly more detailed picture. Note the little ratchet in the back. Damn I miss my dremel!
I have certainly tasted blood in my mouth a lot over the years, not to mention in all my surgeries the past year, but I must admit, feeling the first incision when the flaps are being made and feeling files on my actual bone and the sudden surge of rusty blood taste in my mouth still made me feel a little nauseous. This was the first time I can recall actually feeling that way for a bit in an appointment, and I had to disassociate from everything for a minute and breathe til it subsided.
After the desired diameter and depth of the hole in my head has been achieved, the dentist places a guide pin in the hole and takes an Xray in order to determine if the correct angulation has been reached and that the pin should be parallel with the roots of the adjacent teeth and also centered in the bone. Above is one of my bloody guide pins after the Xrays.

I keep forgetting to ask if I can have the little containers my implants come in, dammit!

Rakhee and El taking turns suturing. These pics are some of the first I've taken at the dentist with my new GoPro HD Hero camera I got myself for my birthday. It was really the ONLY purchase of a significant amount I have spent the entire past year for anything "unnecessary" since I have been saving virtually every cent past rent, food and phone to pay for my treatment plan.
Hey El, that is the treacherous "Minnesota," right? Or is that a "cowhorn?" I forget what that is, and I never really got to see some of those tools I hated from your perspectives. All I know is that one of my previous extraction appointments I swore that thing was gonna tear through the side of my cheek!

I'm including this one just because it came out dark and looks more sinister!
It had been 2 1/2 months since my last appointment, nearing the one year anniversary of my first appointment, and I felt it was time once again to show my dentist some love. I totally forgot to take a picture of the present before I gave it to her. It is an ice cube tray that makes denture-shaped ice cubes! Upon reflection a few days after I gave it to her it occurred to me...that I always keep giving her these fun and silly dentistry-related gifts that I later want as well!

I recently bought a set of Polaroid-shaped cards I had intended on mailing for the holidays. (I love Polaroids and still use mine despite film costing almost $2.00 per picture. Though I have yet to find the time to share many of them, as I flipped through them, this one seemed perfect for the occasion.

This is actually rare for me, that a card or a letter be so "short and sweet." If you read the previous blog entry, however, of the "30 most inspiring people I have ever known," my entry for her which I shared shortly after this, is much more extensive, in reflection upon the past year and how far we have come.

I took this shortly before I left the clinic, which has seemed to become a customary ritual to document how out of it I look. Also...I bleached my hair!
I took this several hours later that night to get a better look at my stitches. Shown is the site of my implant for tooth #20.

And here is the view of the implant site of tooth #12, which, interestingly enough, the whole time during my surgery I had actually thought was #14! It FELT like 14, strangely enough. But that one, as well as my implants at 8 and 10 will be saved for another day very soon I hope, provided my bone has regenerated well. We shall see!


  1. Great post, Paul! And thank you for the photo; now I will never forget the set-up ;).

    1. Thank you, and you're welcome! Actually I haven't even had a chance to fully finish all I had intended to write on this one! Glad you are turning up a little more in the blog. I've actually spent the most time with you in comparison to all my like 20 other students after Rakhee. :-) See you on Monday! Check back for more reflections on my one year anniversary since my first appointment at ASDOH real soon!

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  3. Paul, that seems like a grueling process! Thanks for detailing the whole procedure. The surgery looks bloody and sinister. Anyway, the result will be rewarding. Did it hurt? I hope you recover soon!
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  4. I can imagine the pain that you’ve suffered from your dental implants. It's been two years, I hope you can update us about your teeth. How are you now? :)

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