Now dentists can work magic with old, tired mouths

I have been considering different topics to write about this week, but over-shadowing my musings on the meaning of life have been my teeth.

Once I was going to write a memoir entitled “Dentists my teeth have seen throughout the world.” At this stage in life the title would be “How my teeth can be replaced by implants.” We all get to that point. I remember not long ago at a luncheon complaining about a dental appointment or a toothache, I don’t remember which, when a lovely lady at the table said “Oh, the solution is implants.”

Her smile after she said that was dazzling. I realized that is what I have unconsciously been noticing lately: The white dazzling smiles of perfect teeth that I am presented with in the flesh and on TV. And I know they all weren’t born with the same perfect teeth.

But I needed to do something about mine. After my son had a molar implant and was pleased (and did not go through agony), I decided I would chance it. I have found the dentists in Costa Rica to be among the best and the not very good, so I feel lucky to live where people in other countries come to have their dental work done.

I went to the same clinic that my son had visited and that specializes in implants. I explained that after some dental work my bite was off. It set my teeth on edge, so to speak, every time I closed my mouth. I didn’t want beautiful teeth, I wanted my bite corrected. They said they could do that.

There are two kinds of implants, the “one piece immediate load” implant and the regular implant. Some time ago I had had one tooth replaced by an implant that was a regular mode because my jaw needed more bone. I think that it is more common to not have enough bone for the upper jaw to hold an implant. It had taken a good half hour and two dentists working on my jaw. So bone was added and I had to wait (with a perfectly adequate temporary tooth) for over three months for my jaw to be ready for the finished installation.

An immediate load implant is a whole different animal. In preparation for the work, they first took a panoramic x-ray and made a mold of my teeth.

Then the head dentist walked in and within less than 10 minutes, probably 5 he painlessly injected just enough novocain to numb temporarily, placed four screws in my lower jaw, smiled, told me all was well and left. It was zip zip. I was given five antibiotic pills and some pain killers to take over the next five days. After a short wait they had temporary teeth ready for me and I went home.

Within eight days my permanent implants were ready. Subsequent visits involved replacing the temporaries with
permanent implants, which, after a previous disaster with an ill fitting crown, I asked to please put them in temporarily so I could try them out. I am glad I did as we had some problems with one side.

Within eight days my permanent implants were ready. Subsequent visits involved replacing the temporaries with permanent implants, which, after a previous disaster with an ill fitting crown, I asked to

please put them in temporarily so I could try them out. I am glad I did as we had some problems with one side.

At the clinic I attended, all of the dentists and assistants, other than the one with the screws, are women. Patient, gentle, understanding women who are careful about detail. Immediate load costs more but the cost here is less than half that charged in the United States. Well worth a medical vacation trip.

And here is a suggestion to the U.S. government. Costa Rica has made it relatively easy for visitors to come to this country for medical and dental treatment while they are having a great vacation. I doubt very much that the U.S. could tout their medical services as reasonably priced. But what it does have to offer is a beautiful country with many cities and wondrous national parks and expanses of nature for the tourist.

Start with reforming your visa policies for tourists. Make it easier for people to visit the United States – just as they seem to be flocking to China. This advice is not mine, but I am passing it along from someone who seems to know.

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