Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Planting season is here. Birds chirp. Sun beams. Can there ever be a day too radiant for an implant?

After my first dental implant, I said "never again," but here I am at number three. Despite my maniacal 12-step, multi-tooled plaque-attack that requires at least a half hour per day of my life, I am back in dental doodoo. Apparently there is no cure for the double whammy of having the gods of dentistry failing to smile you, and no access to fluoridated water. My mom tried her best to convince the town that fluoridated water was NOT a communist plot, but since this was the 50s, she was lucky not to have been ridden out of town on the rails. (full disclosure:at a wrinkle-free 87, she is a veteran of 9 implants and has the best smile in the family)

In my neck of the woods in America, an implant will set you back $2250, and there's no tooth to go along with it. That would cost you another two thousand, none of it covered by insurance.

I had been strongly considering having the procedure done by our new dentist in Italy, where the cost is half as much. But to have a titanium screw drilled into your jaw can be tricky business, so I decided to go for it in my native language where an "ouch" is readily understood.

I expected to be a sore, swollen mess when I woke up today, but so far, so good. And although I will celebrating Mother's Day as a mom with a gap the size of New Jersey in my mouth, I am not going to let that get me down. A great gizmo called a "flipper" that has a perfectly lovely tooth attached gives me and the rest of the world the illusion that there is no Black Hole where my eye tooth should be. Who knew the real origin of the expression, "I'd give my eye teeth for that"?

An advantage of going to the excellent local periodontist is his angelic chair-side assistant whose lovely, calm manner could reassure anyone. At the start of the operation, given the choice between a stress ball and Kathy's hand, I chose both. There would certainly be fewer people jumping off buildings if she were there to talk them down. When I told her that I was canceling plans for a Mother's Day dinner, she said, "Oh no. You should go. Just stay away from the poky, crusty bread."

Indeed, for the next few weeks, nixie on anything cooked al dente. After 6-8 months of healing, however, I can get a tooth to fill that crater. Then, if I am feeling really reckless, I can say, "I'd give my eye teeth never to have another implant."

IMPLANTED! Two for the price of one?

Yes, it's just as uncomfortable as it looks.

What's this? I thought that blue tooth had something to do with talking on the telephone. But when you come to watch your husband get tortured by the dentist, it's the blue tooth chair from which I have a front-row seat to watch Jim get his first AND second implant simultaneously.

When we walked in here, with Jim's zero inplants and my three--actually 2.5--I was the Implant Queen. But when the implant expert who was overseeing his implant looked at the fancy panoramic scan of Jim's pearly yellowish-whites, he recommended doing a second implant in the empty space where a wisdom tooth used to be. This is to prevent Jim from becoming a vampire even when it's not Halloween. It turns out that a lonely tooth with no one above it against which to nuzzle can erupt and just keep growing and growing, which is not a pretty prospect.

Two heads are better than one. And maybe ditto for two implants, as long as they give a discount.

Here in action are our dentist Dottore Marco Graddi, Specialista in Odontoiatria e Protesi Dentaria, and his senior partner, Professore Sergio Corbi, Medico Chirurgo, Specialista Maxillofacciale, directtore del reparto di Odontoiatria e Implantologia, Azienda Ospedaliera San Camillo Roma.

With all those credentials, what could go wrong?

So far, so good, but we'll know better when the novocaine wears off.

As we were heading to the office for Jim's procedure, our friend called to tell us where we could legally dump a dead chest freezer (near the cemetary, of course!) and to offer the Italian expression for "lots'a luck" that involves a mouth and a wolf: "in bocca al lupo." The literal meaning is "into the mouth of the wolf," since it's intended to offer courage in the face of a tough task. The proper response, "crepi il lupo" means something like "may it be the wolf who croaks!"

As I learned from looking this up on the Internet, speakers of English are not the only ones to be confused by this expression. One guy asked, "What should I reply to anyone who say me: 'break a leg'?”

Vittorio explains it all to us:
"Hi to everyone,
Maybe should be interesting to know where the expression comes from.

To hunt wolves once was a very appreciated activity on Appennini mountains. The hunter who killed a wolf went door by door in mountain villages, with the skin of the wolf as a bag, and villains used to fill it with presents, to show their gratitude, being wolves a real threat for their sheep and their lives! So the hunter who killed a wolf was considered a very lucky guy!"

To think about this expression is a lot more fun than getting two implants in one sitting, or even watching your husband get them.

By the way, it's not just in olden days that the mouth of a wolf was a place to be avoided. Just yesterday, when we asked our farmer neighbor why his sheep were no longer grazing in our pasture, he crinkled up his face, pointed his finger, and hissed, "il lupo!"

We are hoping to keep the wolf and his mouth far away from us and from Farmer G's flock.

Jim Dopo Implants 
(that's Italian for "after,"but he's also still dopo-ed up)
The recovery period begins...

The next day:on to Rome! Does this look like someone who just had two implants?
Two weeks later, we return to Dr. G for Jim's "controllo:" "Come va?" "Perfetto! Bravo Dottore!" says Jim."Bravo, James!" says il dottore. "BRAVI, TUTTI DUE!" says D from the Blue Tooth Peanut Gallery. She's actually thinking that  for part two of her own implant, Dr G may be her man, but it was nice of Jim to be the guinea pig.

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