I’m starting a new series on my blog about the things I’m doing to “keep moving” during this pandemic. I don’t believe in being stuck. That’s an error in mindset. I believe in leveraging the moment. Progress can still be made if you set out to it.

In this first post, I’ll share my experience earlier getting my first-ever dental implants.

Deciding to get dental implants only made sense while looking at an x-ray of my teeth. I went in for an urgent root canal recently and an x-ray was taken. I know I have two missing teeth towards the back of my mouth. These aren’t obvious even if I smile. But they’re there. Like a perpetual “note to self” that I badly want deleted. A reminder… hey George, you really can’t afford to fill in those missing teeth, issit? Come on, you can do better.

Being indecisive at first

In my nine years living in this pricey city, paying for dental care was sadly less of a priority. It’s HARD not to compare dental prices here with that in the Philippines. Most treatments can be a fraction of the price. Plus, there’s Filipino hospitality I’m biased to. A type of care you expect when you’re back home.

But after revisiting my dentist at Raffles Place… I made the decision. More years of neglect might lead to complications which cost more. If I have a clear shot at it now with a dentist I trust, it should be win-win.

Deciding to get dental implants was not easy. I’m conservative with expenses during this pandemic. But I didn’t want to wait any longer. I wanted to treat this as an investment in myself.

When I was sent the quotation, I couldn’t help but compare it to how many blue iMacs or PlayStation 5s I could buy with that price. But that wasn’t being fair to myself. iMacs are iMacs, these are my damn teeth. Investing in your teeth is never a waste. It can be costly, but that could be due to years of said neglect. And yes, of course it’s costly. You’re paying professionals to fix your smile and your bite. If your teeth look like shit, ewan ko na lang.

Days ahead of my appointment I was starting to feel anxious. Would the procedure hurt – because this involves drilling and installing something foreign into my body? Is this the right thing to do, should I be considering other options?

After an urgent root canal recently… I decided to proceed with two dental implants.

I arrived at the dentist 15 minutes ahead of schedule so I could collect my thoughts in the lobby. After doing SafeEntry and filling out a consent form, I was led to the surgery room (instead of the normal room). The usual: gargle mouthwash for one minute, wear the blue bib, wait for the dentist to enter.

The procedure

My dentist entered the room and answered all of my questions before proceeding to inject local anaesthesia on two sides of my mouth. I requested for Vaseline on my lips since they tend to get dry when I’m nervous. My dentist was assisted by two other staff. One worked on water suction and the other was a friendly assist I could hear in the background.

Dental implants, from my understanding, are done in two parts. Installing the implant (screw) into the gums and letting that heal first. Then the second part, after a few months, is installing the actual teeth. Here’s a quick video of it:

Here are my observations:

  • It was painless. Once the anaesthesia took effect, the sensation was more on feeling some pressure in the gums. AND, controlling the flow of water in your mouth which was being sprayed and suctioned. That was it. My dentist was asking me how I was doing while he operated. Like in my root canal experience, if there’s pain… you just mention it and he’ll stop immediately and adjust. There was no pain during this procedure. The only discomfort was the anaesthesia being injected by a needle.
  • It was quick. The entire procedure for each tooth implant probably took only 10-15 minutes (maybe less!). I remember a sense of child-like wonder and relief as the dentist moved from right side to left side. I was thinking “wait, the right side is done already?”.

When I open my mouth wide, I can see metal jutting out on both sides, but quite hidden since these two teeth are towards the back of my mouth. I understand that these two implants are to integrate into the surrounding tissue. Everything must heal before the aesthetic / actual tooth is installed. I’m due back after a week for a 15-minute review.

I wasn’t expecting I’ll be wearing some of the garb.

After the procedure, I was prescribed antibiotics, a stronger type of painkillers, two square of gauze, and this pink mouthwash similar from my recent root canal episode. The staff at this dentist have always been friendly. It almost feels like the reception at a hotel. The experience is calm. I guess I’m getting what I’m paying for… because all of these expenses are from my own pockets. Not from a company or MediSave which many Singaporeans may enjoy. Every dollar spent on these teeth comes from my savings.

Soreness afterwards?

My gums (the affected areas) started to feel tender and sore as the anaesthesia wore off. After eating Sushiro sushi (take away), I took the antibiotic as prescribed and I decided to take the painkiller anyway… since it’s the first night after the surgery. There’s a slight bit of soreness but that’s all. The painkillers must be doing the rest.

On a mental relaxation note, I watched about six episodes of Descendants of the Sun on Netflix. I think it’s good to distract yourself with entertainment as part of post-surgery!

Will forever associate K-dramas with my dental implant journey

As for food intake after getting dental implants, I managed to enjoy my housemate’s pasta with shrimp as well as some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the “Netflix and Chill” flavour which is “pretzel, peanut butter, and salted caramel” combined I think. It’s freaking divine. I am able to eat soft foods well. I’ll be eating soft food for the next 2-3 days just to help hasten the healing.

Oh, and it isn’t as dramatic as I thought it’d be: bedridden, ice packs, small towels in case of blood, a spit bucket… LOL none of these things so far

Making personal progress in 2021

I’m proud I’ve recently taken steps for a fuller and more radiant smile. (Uhm, Colgate commercial?) I mean, they’re dental implants. Costly dental implants… something I’m not used to paying for from the get go. But I think they’re a necessary investment to avoid future complications with missing teeth. Even if they’re only two slots that people don’t even see. There’s something remarkable about being able to fill in the blanks.

I’ll write about this again once I have updates in a few months.

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