When a tooth goes bad it is impossible to concentrate on anything other than the tooth. When you are eating and you always get that twinge or you think is the tooth going to come out in the sandwich I am eating it is time to get yourself sorted out. Like most people, you will try and convince yourself that the tooth is fine and the pain or discomfort will go away magically one day. You continue to tell yourself it will not get infected like other peoples because you are careful.

Unfortunately, in some cases the tooth becomes infected or even worse comes out and leaves part of the tooth in the jaw. And the pain increases.

Now I have to look at my options, so making an appointment with Dr O’Connor at HappyDental, based in Dublin 14, is the next course of action to take.

Most of Dr O’Connor’s patients who need dental implants have missing teeth or teeth that are so loose when they cough they think the tooth is going to come out. In my case the tooth had broken; the roots had become infected and the only real option was extraction.

Dr O’Connor suggested in my case that an option was to have a dental implant but due to the infection she wanted to extract the tooth, clean the socket and let it heal for several weeks and then if there was enough bone to support a dental implant we would move in that direction. So Dr O’Connor took out the offending tooth, relatively quickly and painlessly, and cleaned the whole socket and sent me on my way to recover.

Dr O’Connor had told me that after a few days the ache in my jaw would subside and sure enough it did. After three weeks I was back with Dr O’Connor, not for dental work but to explore having a dental implant. Dr O’Connor saw me, explained fully to me what a dental implant was and how it worked with my case. She also explained to me other options should there not be enough bone and as I did not have any medical issues, such as diabetes or heart problems, she felt that I might be a good candidate for dental implants.

To find out for sure if I had enough bone to support dental implants I had a CT Scan done at the clinic, €150.00, and Dr O’Connor told me that within 10-12 days she would assess my CT Scan and create a Treatment Plan for me as long as there was enough bone present to support a dental implant.

It was a tough wait but 9 days later I received a Treatment Plan from Dr O’Connor showing me that I had sufficient bone to support a dental implant, images from my CT Scan and the total cost. It was single dental implant + post + crown and the price was €1249.00.

I called the clinic and told them that I accepted the Treatment Plan devised for me by Dr O’Connor and scheduled in an appointment to begin the process. At the same time, I booked a Scale and Polish for 2 days prior to my appointment with Dr O’Connor as prescribed in the Treatment Plan to ensure my mouth was nice and healthy.

I was looking old with my missing tooth and feeling old so I was pleased to begin the process of getting my smile back and being able to chew properly again.

In Ireland thanks to the fluoridation of the water supply and the improvement in dental care over the last fifty years most people have good teeth.

One of the main issues for people who lose a tooth or more they begin to avoid foods that are not easy to chew such as vegetable, nuts and other healthy food stuffs and eat more soft food and processed foods.  One of the usual treatments for people who have lost a few teeth is the dreaded – dentures – and they can be as problematic as missing teeth are.  People find that dentures are not easy to have in their mouth, they rub the gums, they slip and when chewing they don’t do the job efficiently.  Even the finest kind dentures are nowhere near as strong as your own teeth so the chewing ability is limited.

I didn’t want to become one of these people so I pressed on with dental implants.

Dr O’Connor explained to me at my consultation that with the use of the titanium dental implants in my jaw they will integrate (bond) with my own bone and in essence create fake roots in my jawbone on top of which the crown will sit after six months. Luckily, I have only one dental implant to place but Dr O’Connor regularly places four or more dental implants on patients.

At the appointment to begin the process of having the dental implant placed Dr O’Connor displays the CT Scan on the computer monitor beside the chair I am reclining in, the image is huge and Dr O’Connor assures me that it is my jaw and not the jaw of a horse. Dr O’Connor has pre-planned the dental implant placement procedure using software so that she knows the angle of the titanium screw, the length that is suitable so it does not affect my mandibular nerve and the correct width of the screw suitable to my bone width.  Dr O’Connor also confirms with me prior to starting that I have begun my antibiotics 24 hours earlier, have ibuprofen with me for painkilling and swelling and I have someone with me to take me home. I confirm all the points and we begin.

Everything is all good now and Dr O’Connor proceeds to numb the area for the first part of the procedure which is where she cuts the gum and pulls it back to expose the bone where the dental implant will be placed. Dr O’Connor then drills a hole into the mandible, lower jaw bone, she then inserts the threaded titanium implant into the hole and places a healing abutment into the implant. She then sews up the gum and we are all done and dusted.

The dental team give me an ice pack to keep against the area of the dental implant for 20 minutes at a time to help keep the potential swelling down and make sure I am safely on my way home.

24 hours later Dr O’Connor’s team call me to check on me and ask about pain and swelling which I am happy to report is minimal on both counts. They remind me that I am due back into the clinic in 14 days to remove the stitches and to stick with the diet sheet I had on what foods to avoid for the first 3-4 days.

So, I visited the clinic again after 14 days and had the stitches removed by Dr O’Connor who pronounced that the healing process was looking good.  My next appointment would be three months from then and Dr O’Connor would assess the healing progress with an OPG X-Ray.

The three-month appointment was quick and Dr O’Connor confirmed that the dental implant was integrating nicely into the bone. My next appointment would be in two months to begin the next stage of the process which is to have the impressions taken with the abutment so the crown could be made.

So five and half months after sitting in the chair for the dental implant I am back in the chair for the healing caps to be placed. This is where Dr O’Connor numbs the area and resects the gum that has covered the top of the dental implant and places a healing cap and sends me on my way booking me in for an appointment two weeks later.

After two weeks Dr O’Connor removes the healing cap, places the abutment and takes an impression for the crown which will be made. Healing caps back on and my next and final appointment is booked for two weeks later.

This is it, the final appointment, six months from the beginning of the dental implant placement and now the healing caps are replaced with the abutment and my new tooth. That’s it all done and now I have a smile back again.

Dr O’Connor tells me the success rate at her clinic is 97% for all dental implants and she reminded me that I must keep up a healthy oral routine with flossing and very regular brushing. She also told me that a Scale and Polish every six months might have stopped me having a dental implant.

Dr O’Connor tells me that I can eat normally again but to be aware that the gum around the new tooth may be a little sensitive to eating and to be careful for a few days. Once I started eating again I realised what Dr O’Connor was talking about, when the tooth was rotten I ate food in different parts of my mouth to avoid that rotten tooth and now I had to get used to eating normally again.