04:42:54 am on
Tuesday 24 Sep 2019

In the Chair
Matt Seinberg

It's 1975 and I'm listening to comedian a new album, from comedian Robert Klein, called New Teeth. For anyone that has gone to the dentist, this is a must-listen. The best line comes during the track titled, "At the Dentist."

• The gas makes ya not give a poop.

Klein talks of Nitrous Oxide, also known as laughing gas. He says, "[Although] you may feel the pain, you don't give a shit!" That's how I felt last Tuesday.

I went to the oral surgeon to have my twenty-five year old left-side bridge removed. I also needed one tooth extracted. I had a sinus lift and a bone graft, too.

Why get all this work? It’s simple. The bridge need to come out, although I previously had two apicos. An apicoectomy is a minor surgical procedure, which involves removing and sealing the very tip of the tooth root "Apico" means apex, tip or end. "Ectomy" means removal.

Usually, the oral surgeon will do only one apicoectomy on a tooth, but in my case, two; there was nothing else to do about that tooth. We, meaning the dentist, the oral surgeon and me, kept an eye on that tooth for the last few years. I finally determined that when my car accident case settled, I would have the work done.

As I wrote in December 2018, that case settled. I made all the appointments necessary for the removal and implants.

The dentist, Dr Bill, made me a temporary appliance similar to an Invisalign tooth straightener. This would encircle my entire upper mouth and give the appearance of having all my teeth. Usually he charges $700-to-800 for it, but because I'm a long time patient and I asked nicely, he did it for no charge.

I kept that in my car for about a month just so I wouldn't forget it when I went to see Dr Tracy the oral surgeon. The appointment date, with the oral surgeon, finally arrived and I arrived early. One of the technicians took me in the back to take the 3D Panorex Digital X-Ray, which took roughly thirty seconds.

Then onto the treatment room, where Dr Tracy comes in and we talk about how much time we have and what she's going to do. Since I didn't have anybody to drive me, I couldn't have general anesthesia. Instead, I used the good old stand-by, Nitrous Oxide, also known as laughing gas.

• It might pinch.

First, there was the Novocain. It felt like a million little bugs flying on the left side of my mouth. Tracy numbed up the gum and palette and said what every dentist always says, "It will pinch just a little bit." It pinched a lot, but I didn't scream or break her hand.

When my mouth was sufficiently numb, she started the gas. I had my earbuds in, listening to Watercolors Instrumental on SiriusXM. I wanted relaxing music, not something loud and annoying.

The drilling starts. After a few minutes, the bridge and tooth are out. They weren't nearly as big as I thought they would be. Tongues grossly exaggerate the contents of the mouth.

The drilling starts again. I point to my nose, signaling I needed more gas. Mission accomplished.

What is a sinus lift you ask? A sinus lift is a surgical procedure performed to increase the amount of bone in the upper jaw and may be required before getting dental implants on the upper jaw. If there is bone loss, I need extra space for a bone graft; ergo, raise the sinus.

There is more drilling and funnier smells. I had no idea how long I was in that chair, but it felt like forever. It's finally over. Tracy tells me that she did everything. I would need to let the bone graft heal for at least six months.

Dr Tracy then fits the temporary appliance in my mouth. She just can't get it to fit right and suggests I go to the dentist and have him try to fit it better. I try.

My dentist isn't in; I see the senior member of the practice. He does some adjustments, but says that the swelling must go down before I can really wear it. We figure that's going to take at least a week.

I was sore. I couldn't wait to go to CVS and get my three prescriptions. The first is Amoxicillin, an antibiotic to make sure there is no chance of infection. The second is a rinse to keep the area clean and the third is Hydrocodone. I knew I would need that for at least two days.

I picked up the prescriptions and went home, crawled into bed, with an ice pack, and Dakota, my cat. She stayed with me the entire time I was home. I am so fortunate.

Right now, I feel like I have a gap, on the left side of my mouth, that a car could drive through. Next Tuesday I have a follow up appointment with Dr Tracy. I'm sure she'll be very happy with her work.

If I get at least 20 years out of these implants, I'll be happy. Yet, I don't plan to go through this again. Implants and crowns can start at $4000 and go up depending on how many at one time.

• Bad root canals.

Sometimes, implants are unavoidable because of trauma done to the teeth. Sometimes tooth maintenance falls short, due to laziness and such. Mine was due to trauma years ago from a broken tooth and bad root canals.

Brush twice daily and see your dentist at least twice a year for a check-up and cleaning.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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