Turn towards me sir, thank you...this'll be over before you know it...Hands up, who’s had a dental implant? No? Well, I gotta tell you, people, you don’t know what you’re missing out on. Lemme fill you in. (Ahem) Sorry about that, couldn’t avoid it.
First you lose a tooth, then you go to see your dentist. The dentist (as is their wont) leans on in there, messes around for a bit, makes all the requisite hmmms and ahs as befits the deep thinking done by tooth tinkerers, and tells you the inevitably expensive prognosis:
‘Extraction.’ (Man of few words, is The Dentist.)
‘How much?’ Asks the ever-impoverished patient.
‘Hmmm. First - extraction. Then implant.’
And so it is that you find yourself a fairly regular visitor to the chair, for an implant is no simple procedure (although orthodontists and maxillofacial surgeons may beg to differ), and consists of a number of trips. First up - the exploratory session to determine what the hell is exactly going on in there, which is fun and games compared to what lies in wait. Next, the almighty extraction which, in my case, was a full-blown wrestling match replete with jets of blood arcing all over the joint. It was a marathon tug-of-war that required the dentist to apply his knee to the chair in order to wrench the offending tooth from its socket and his assistant to hold my head down to prevent it from following the tooth. It was over in about an hour, and yes, it was rather like a movie, with the Doc triumphantly holding up the offending article, bloodied as it was, with a grin on his face:
‘Wanna keep it?’
Uh, no thanks, Doc.
Phase three of the construction of Maxillofacial Mansions is the all-important and suitably horrific implant. For this charming little procedure we will need: an implant specialist (who, it goes without saying, charges astronomical fees, although all he actually does is tote a selection of Titanium/Aluminium/Vanadium alloy implants around in his briefcase, stand around making comments on the depth and width of the excavation, and hand over a tiny pile of ‘white gold’ – powdered synthetic bone), a dental assistant (someone’s gotta suture up all that blood) and the proud dentist, who is mentally racking up his expenses on an ultra-exclusive seven-star resort on some far-flung equatorial archipelago.
So, do they drill? Do they ever – it’s like they’re taking a core sample.
Is it painful? I’ve got four words for you: Six shots of Xylotox.
And afterward? Ten codeine tablets later, you’ll look and behave like a freshly exhumed zombie, but will still feel like a buffalo kicked you in the face.
But wait! There’s more.
Due to the effect that smoking has on the level of oxygen in your blood and thus inhibiting the ability of your newly drilled and grafted bone to knit well, it is strongly suggested that anyone wanting to go through the process of having an implant give up smoking prior to the process and maintain their abstinence afterward. Studies have shown that the rate of implant failure is twice and in some cases three times as likely in smokers when compared to those who refrain from sucking on the devil's stogie.
So, here goes with not smoking, for the first time since I started in...1991.
Wish me luck, because this is what my next 5 weeks looks like:
This weekend – a 40th Birthday, at which the wife and I are DJ’ing. Smoking? Lots.
Next weekend: Our 11th NONONO!!! events. Smoke? Like a fog rolled in.
The Weekend after: An office party gig on the Friday for the both of us, followed by an all-nighter on the Saturday. Smoke? Like a chimney.
December 13 / 14: A friend’s wedding. At which we are DJ’ing. Smoke? Yes, yes, lots.
In fact, the only weekend in the next seven weeks that doesn’t involve drinking and the accompanying fog of cigarette smoke is that little lonely weekend of the 20th and 21st December. But don’t you worry about that – so close to the season of spontaneous festivities, it’s bound to turn into a circus. A circus where everyone smokes.
Wish me luck.