It’s been nearly three months since I had #24 extracted from my lower jaw, due to resorption caused by scleroderma. The bone graft is well-healed, and in a couple of weeks I will get the post implanted for my new tooth. Then it’s another three to four months to wait until I get the crown to complete the process.
So, meanwhile, I had a “flipper” made, which is a false tooth on a pink base that snaps in place beneath my tongue. I use it occasionally when I’m on a Zoom call with clients or people I don’t know well, because the gap in my lower jaw looks pretty ridiculous. But thanks to masks for Covid, I don’t really need it when I’m out and about. And when I’m with family or friends, it doesn’t matter.
The question is . . . was it worth it? I had to have it adjusted by my dentist a couple of weeks ago, because it was too loose. She was able to tighten the fit, but she also took another scan of my lower jaw and sent it to a different lab to see if they could improve on the current version (at no cost to me). The flipper makes it a bit harder to speak clearly, but perhaps the new version will be less of an impediment.
Bottom line, though, is that I’ve gotten used to the gap, and I’m not nearly as self-conscious about it as I was, at first. My tongue definitely likes to twist and turn in that open space when I’m thinking. I can eat without any trouble.
On the other hand, February is a long ways away, still, and I have a presentation coming up at the end of this month, on Zoom, of course, that I’d prefer to do without a missing front tooth. The screen view really amplifies the gap. I’ll just have to practice speaking with the flipper in place.
These are trivial problems, of course, in the grand scheme of life. There are many places here in the U.S. and around the world where people cannot afford to keep their teeth as they age, for lack of resources, poor nutrition, and/or limited access to dental services. I know that I’m very fortunate, if I must deal with this chronic issue of resorbing teeth roots, that we have the means to pay for this very expensive process.
(Which is why I sincerely hope that Congress is able to pass popular and long overdue legislation that would add dental benefits to Medicare, despite opposition by the American Dental Association, but I digress.)
And so, like a kid in grammar school, I play with the gap between my teeth, and wait.