Back when I had braces, I got a root canal. I wasn't told much about it; just that I needed to get it done. I want to say that I wasn't 18 yet and my mom made all the decisions about my oral health. When I (finally) got my braces off, I pretty much said goodbye to my dentist and never saw him again. Fast forward a few years. I think I was 21 when I bit into a cold Lindt chocolate and heard a loud crack. When I looked in the mirror, I saw a crack right down the middle of my entire tooth and later found out that the crack extended to the end of the root. There was no saving my tooth. Apparently, I was supposed to get a crown on my tooth after the root canal. I never got the memo. In case you're wondering, no, the crack didn't hurt; there were no nerves left in that tooth.
After numerous visits to the dentist, it was decided that the best route for me was to get a dental implant. A dental implant is essentially a titanium rod that is placed in the jawbone to replace the root of an actual tooth. It needs to heal for approximately 6 months before a crown can be placed on top. Reading about dental implants and seeing illustrations made my stomach turn. They looked painful! Putting a screw in my jawbone didn't exactly rank high on my priorities, so I put off the process for as long as I could.
Shortly after my 24th birthday, I decided to finally bite the bullet and take care of my missing tooth. I was referred to a specialist for the implant part of the process. My mind was mildly put at ease when I saw all the certificates and plaques hanging in his office. When it came time to get a screw drilled into my jawbone, my mouth was well frozen. While I didn't feel anything, hearing all the sounds and having all these people around me (the surgeon, several nurses, and hygienists) overwhelmed me. Tears were streaming down my face, despite the lack of pain and discomfort. The surgeon allowed me to calm down before he finished placing the implant in my jaw.
The next three days were uncomfortable, but not terrible. There was swelling where the implant was placed and occasional bleeding (fun fact: I had a secondary job interview at some retail place the day after my implant. It bled. I had to excuse myself to check up on my mouth. I didn't get the job). After that, things were fine.
I ended up getting a fulltime serving job with crazy hours, two tutoring jobs, and a volunteer placement shortly after my implant healed, so getting the crown put in was put on the back-burner. Putting a downpayment on DK and my wedding lit a spark under my butt. I realized I didn't want to be toothless at my wedding. Last week, I finally got around to seeing my new dentist and got the crown put in. There was no healing required for the crown portion like I had thought, which was another contributing factor to why I waited so long to get it. I couldn't afford to take a few days off from all my jobs and commitments. I actually served a few hours after my crown was put in.
Missing a tooth was a huge insecurity of mine. Despite the gap being somewhere inconspicuous, I felt like people would stare the moment they noticed. I didn't want to smile too big or laugh too hard in fear of someone commenting on my missing tooth. I didn't like meeting new people because I didn't want to be judged. I'm so happy that I finally mustered up the courage to finally get it done. I've had the finished product for exactly a week now and I'm finally used to the feeling of having a tooth in what was a gap for years. I feel much more confident than I have in years. I'm not afraid to smile, laugh, and be myself. Nobody could tell that I had an artificial tooth when I told them. The most painful part of getting my dental implant was paying for it. My wallet is much lighter now, but I'm also a lot happier, so I guess it's a fair trade off!
I hope that someone who is going through what I went through will read this and know that dental implants aren't as bad as they seem. I hate dentists as much as anyone else, if not more, and was able to put aside my fears to get it done. The first day after the dental implant kind of sucks, but that's about it. Everything else is a cake walk.