Well, the bridge in my mouth anyway. I had my twice-a-year dental checkup on Thursday morning and although I managed to escape cavities yet again, the dentist had to deliver the bad news that one of the bridges in my mouth is officially on life support. It’s actually not too surprising as I figured that one of them would shell out long before now. They are 20 years old and are well past their life expectancy.
I have a total of four bridges in my mouth, the result of having been born with 4 teeth that lacked permanent teeth behind them. My mom has the same thing and I was the only kid in the family to inherit this trait. So other than my devastatingly good looks, it’s my only “birth defect.” With no permanent teeth to push the baby teeth out, they were going to rot away and the rest of my teeth would migrate around oddly in my mouth, negating the thousands of dollars worth of orthodontia that my folks fitted me with when I was in junior high. So during Thanksgiving break in 1992, when I was 20, I had all four of those teeth pulled, molds made of my mouth and four bridges made. These bridges were put in in December of 92 and January of 93. They aren’t removable or anything but with four bridges comes great responsibility. You have to floss under them and generally keep them cleaner than you might other teeth. I haven’t always been the best about this, but I do my best.
So the lower right bridge is starting to fail. It’s been loose for a while, but never so bad as to merit really talking seriously about replacing it. The tooth that serves as the back anchor for the bridge is in great shape, with a solidly good crown. The front anchor tooth is where the problem is. It’s had root canal therapy done on it ad it is overall not a great tooth. He looked worriedly at it when I sat in the chair on Thursday and I knew that we were going to have to think about replacing it sooner rather than later.
But what to replace it with? I hate to wreck a perfectly good crowned tooth in the name of replacing a bridge so we talked implant therapy as well. Implants are basically a peg that is screwed into your jaw, allowed to heal and then crowned like a regular tooth would be. Heidi has two (allowing me to say that why yes, my wife DOES have implants) and they have been very good investments. The only problem is that they are mother-fucking expensive. AND insurance doesn’t cover them. As usual, they’d rather pay for something that will maybe fall apart in 5 years vs. something that will be in your mouth and function just like a tooth until they bury me or cremate me or whatever. The dentist said he could cut the middle part of the bridge out, put a temporary crown on the front anchor tooth and smooth out the back anchor tooth. He doesn’t place implants, but he would do an implant crown.
Fortunately, I’m related to someone who places implants. My brother, who is a dentist, did one of Heidi’s implants and let me tell you, it was some solid dental work considering he made the molds for her mouth at my parents’ house in our old bedroom one year. I texted him and asked him if he could place an implant for me and he said he could but we still have to work out the arrangements.
Even with family involved, this is still and expensive endeavor. We’re talking 3 grand before insurance pays at minimum, and they only pay 50% of this kind of work. Also, don’t let that 50% fool you because when they say that they pay 50%, they pay 50% of what they feel is appropriate to charge. Never mind that it may actually cost more than that. An implant crown costs about twice as much as a regular crown, but they will only pay for what they feel a regular crown is worth. So I’ll be footing the bill for a lot of this. Hot on the heels of my truck repairs, I could see that we were going to need to be getting ready for a move to the poor house.
Fortunately, this has to be done in stages, so I can prep it now, get the implant placed later this year and then do all the crown work, etc. in 2013 when I can readjust my flex spending. But it was just one more thing to have to spend and save for when all I really want to do is pay down debt and save money to go to Madonna. I think this tour is going to rock my world (and I haven’t even heard the album yet.)