I had been attending the dentist for years, having my check up every six months, and hadn’t needed any dental work. So it came as a bit of shock when, with my mouth wide open and unable to speak, the dentist informed me that I had receding gums. ‘ Wah dos at ean’? I asked. Why does a dentist start talking to you when you can only answer in Swahili. Well I think you may need implants he said, otherwise your teeth will become loose and eventually fall out. This will make your chin drop and you will be unable to chew. Pictures of an ugly old hag were floating in front of my face. Didn’t take long to discover I was looking at my reflection in the dentist’s light but with the thought of eating being a problem I panicked. Implants? Was I going to look like Ryland Clark? Would I ever be able to speak properly again and what was the pain going to be like on a scale of one to ten? I had noticed a few teeth a bit loose. I was still able to munch my way through a steak but I had to face the truth, I was old and I needed new teeth. At least things had changed. False teeth had moved into the twenty first century and it was no longer necessary to have dentures that you kept in a glass by the bedside.
An appointment was made with a well known clinic in Belfast. The waiting room was so plush that I thought I might actually book in and spend a few days there. This is going to be pricey I thought. I had my consultation with a very nice dentist. I was then taken for an X-ray. It was a small room and I had something like a bit put in my mouth. I had to bite on it and an outer ring revolved around my head taking a photo of my gums. In a few minutes the X-Ray was up in front of me and the dentist was confirming that my bone density was decreasing and my only option was to have seven teeth removed. There were then two options. One was eight implants or two implants and a bridge. I was advised that a dental plan would be sent setting out the options and the price.
A couple of days later the plan arrived and for the price of the first option I could have bought a reasonably sized family car. For the second option, a smaller sized car. The family could envisage seeing their inheritance in my beautiful new set of teeth. However I conveniently shoved the letter in a drawer and put it to the back of my mind. I’d think about if later.
On my next routine visit my dentist enquired how my assessment had gone. Er fine, I muttered, embarrassed by the fact that I was procr… procras… putting off the decision. I was also having a few niggling pains and the realisation that I couldn’t put it off any longer was beginning to sink in. By this time I’d managed to mislay the original letter so I requested a copy. This arrived followed by a telephone call from the clinic, by the end of which I had agreed to go back and see the consultant. This time I brought the hubby so that he could ask questions that I might forget. He was more impressed with the large wall mounted TV in the waiting room. After a chat with the nice dentist I agreed that option 2 was the least traumatic. Ok so I’d be badly bruised around the neck and chin area. After my holiday from hell I could cope with a bit of bruising, couldn’t I? It was arranged that I would come in in a few days time and have a scan. This was to make sure that I had enough bone density to put in the two implants.
The night before the scan I didn’t sleep. I tossed and turned. I phoned next morning cancelling the scan. A letter had also arrived that morning asking me to sign my acceptance of the procedure. Unfortunately it gave the downsides as well as the benefits and the imagination went into overdrive.
Knowing I had to make a decision I did what I thought I would do if I was having work done to my house. I’d get a second opinion. I contacted another well known private clinic and explained what I was looking for. They quoted the price of a nice day out at a spa, plus lunch, for the consultation. I thought that was a bit steep but I assumed that the assessment would be on the same basis as the first clinic. The price there for a consultation had been more like the price of an intensive manicure and half the price of this clinic. Instead after a brief sweep around my mouth with a gloved hand I was told what I already knew. I needed implants. It lasted half an hour and there was to be no follow up recommendation with quotes. Big son kept trying to face time me during the consultation as I had forgotten to turn my phone off. This was embarrassing to say the least, as every time I cancelled the call, he tried again. Six times in all. The consulting room was unbearably hot and I was realising I had made a big mistake. I paid the exorbitant consultation fee with a heavy heart and left feeling like a sixty five year old woman who just been trying to put off the inevitable. So that’s where I am at the moment. I need to plan a six month period in the near future when it won’t matter if I have no teeth, temporary teeth, two implants, two implants plus bridge and learning to talk ‘ proper’ again in more or less that order. Hubby can’t suppress his delight. No nagging for six weeks. I’ll let you know what happens…