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My Experience of the Dental Implant Process

The damaged tooth

The damaged tooth

On the 18th June 2011 I was unfortunate enough to catch the heel of my shoe in a pothole, (resulting in a nasty fall), whilst walking home from a neighbour's retirement party (and no, I hadn't had much to drink). I was lucky in as much as it happened in the lane outside where my Husband and I live, but unlucky in the fact I landed badly and my upper right frontal incisor was immediately shattered as it made contact with the road surface, leaving the nerve exposed and me bleeding from my lips and mouth area. It was obvious that this was not a tooth that could be saved as a large part of it had sheered off vertically, so there was no possible way there would be enough tooth / root left for a crown to be an option. Even a quick glance in the mirror once I got back to the safety of our own bathroom told me I was going to need a dental implant.

The following day my Husband had the good sense to photograph the two potholes that were in the relevant part of the lane outside where we lived. We were still under the impression that the local traffic committee here in Guernsey (in the British Channel Islands), would be responsible for my dentist's bill, as surely it was their job to maintain the road in a good state of repair! My Husband contacted them on the Monday morning, and the gentleman he spoke to didn't seem to think this would be a problem and referred us to their insurance company. Within an hour of their conversation the same gentleman had been out and spray painted around the potholes with pink paint, and within 48 hours the potholes had all been filled in (it turned out there was also a third pothole on the other side of the lane further down). In the meantime I went to my dentist who took photos of the damage to my tooth, and then he initially removed the nerve and the majority of the tooth whilst a temporary denture could be made.

The facial injuries

The facial injuries

The remainder of my own tooth prior to its removal

The remainder of my own tooth prior to its removal

For the next week or so I had to cope with having just half a tooth left, which made me very uncomfortable about going out in public, but eventually the artificial denture was ready and I had another appointment to get it fitted. I should add that by now I had been X-rayed as well to make sure there was no underlying damage to the bone from the impact. The bill was creeping up, and the dentist I was using I later discovered is known for being very expensive compared to others on this island. Right now we were not too worried as our dentist seemed happy to wait for the insurance company to pay the bill.

I went in to my next appointment to have the remainder of the original tooth removed, and the temporary denture fitted. This proved to not be any consolation at all, as once my dentist put the temporary denture in my mouth, (and I went home and looked at it properly in the mirror), I realised the temporary tooth looked awful, it was way too long and did not look like it belonged in my mouth at all. This stressed me out completely, and I refused to wear it or to go out in it. Instead I emailed the dentist and complained to say I was not happy (especially as the temporary denture was £595 of the bill). He didn't answer the actual email, but at my next appointment he explained the denture is not meant to be cosmetically a good match, but that he would file it down somewhat so that it was a better length to match the tooth next to it. He did this, and also filled the chips on the other upper frontal incisor which helped the lengths to be a better match, but it was still uncomfortable to wear, and was impossible to eat with as it would just come loose in my mouth and end up churning around with the food like some kind of bizarre washing machine cycle. This became such a problem that I stopped eating out completely and only ate at home where I could remove the denture from my mouth to eat.

The temporary denture prior to filing

The temporary denture prior to filing

The temporary denture

The temporary denture

I was now becoming increasingly depressed, my self confidence was at rock bottom, and to coin a phrase, I felt like 'Janet Street Porter' or 'Esther Rantzen' (in other words like I had a mouth overly full of teeth). You can therefore imagine my distress when a letter came through from the insurance company used by the States of Guernsey, essentially saying they were 'sorry to hear about my accident, but as there was no 'Highways Act' in Guernsey, the States were not liable for my accident, therefore they hoped I would recover soon, but they would not be paying out for the dentist's bill'. I was horrified, and immediately got my Husband to phone the man he had spoken to originally. The response was not helpful, as he essentially said, 'oh well, that is all I can do, so tough luck', (only in more polite terms).

We then decided to try going to the States of Guernsey Social Security Department to see if they would cover my bill because I was unemployed at the time and on unemployment benefits. They initially said that yes, they would pay the bill, so again we breathed a sigh of relief. Our dentist faxed them through the bill so far, and applied discounts to it that they apparently offer when the States of Guernsey Social Security Department are covering a bill. At that point in time the bill was already at £1390+ and I hadn't even got as far as the implant process. Our relief was short lived when a couple of weeks later a senior manager in the same Social Security Department overruled the decision to pay my dental bill because he felt my Husband earned too much! Our dentist immediately removed all the discounts and we were left to scrape around in order to pay off the £1390+ the bill had reached.

Denture after being filed down and the chips on the other upper incisor filled

Denture after being filed down and the chips on the other upper incisor filled

Our second plan was to pay the dentist for the remainder of the process in installments of £100 per month, but we were becoming concerned by the length of time the whole process was taking, and the repeated appointments that seemed to achieve little, and that often lasted all of about five minutes. Meanwhile the bill continued to creep up and we were hearing rumours that this dentist whilst very good, was also very expensive compared to other equally good local dentists.

The last appointment I had with him was on the 18th October 2011, and he took another X-ray of my front upper mandible where the tooth had been, told me the bone had been preserved well (this was without even developing the X-ray), and that he would be away the following week, but would be writing to me the week after with a quote for the proposed work. Assuming I was happy with the quote I would need to sign and return an enclosed form so that we could proceed either late this year or early next year.

I went home feeling relieved there was at least some sign of this ending, but then a few days later I got a letter through from our local hospital for yet another dental X-ray, only this time it would be a full panorex of my entire teeth, and this was going to cost a further £50. My dentist had said nothing about this to me, and I was naturally concerned. I emailed the practice immediately to query this appointment, and said that I knew my dentist was away right now, but as the hospital X-ray was due the Friday of that week (before my dentist would return), could another dentist look at my records and let me know why this extra X-ray was necessary and if there was a problem that had shown up on the smaller X-ray carried out within the practice? I heard nothing back. Frustrated I emailed the practice again two days later saying I had not had a response yet, and had they received my email? Almost immediately I got a short curt email back saying they couldn't speak to Dr ****** until he returned on Monday. Now I was getting annoyed, and I emailed them again saying that I knew he was away, and I had stated this in my first email to them, and that Monday would be too late because my appointment was this Friday. They then phoned me, and said to me that they had looked at my records and this extra X-ray was normal procedure, but I could always cancel the appointment until I could discuss it with Dr ****** upon his return. I couldn't help wondering why their administration was so poor that they hadn't noted what I had said in my first email at all, or bothered to respond to it without my chasing it up, especially in light of their prices being so high.

I decided that rather than delay things any longer I would go for the X-ray at the hospital, and then see what happened when my dentist returned.

Ready for the implant to be fitted

Ready for the implant to be fitted

Meanwhile I had stopped claiming unemployment benefits voluntarily, so my Husband and I decided to approach our local Social Security Department again and see if they would now look at contributing to my dental implant. My Husband made contact with the dentist and asked for a quote for the final part of the process, and was told it would be about another £2500!!! This would have brought the bill for the entire process to about £3900, an exorbitant amount for one tooth. The Social Security Department apparently felt the same, as the person my Husband saw there informed him they felt the fees this dentist charged generally were 'greedy', and they would not even offer a contribution to the procedure if I used this dentist for the remainder of the process. What they did say was that if I used one of a couple of other dentists they suggested on the island, or if I went to the UK to have it done, then we could apply for a grant of up to £700 towards the costs. We had no choice but to agree, and to be honest I felt quite relieved that the decision was made to go elsewhere.

We opted to go to a South African dentist locally, and I was amazed when he said he could literally fit the implant whenever I wanted, and the crown a week later. Why had it all taken so long and been dragged out for over five and a half months by my previous dentist? Apparently three months would have been normal to allow for any damage to the bone to heal, but this had been nearly double that length of time. Even more amazing the new dentist only wanted £1500 to finish off the process, (which was £1000 less than the original dentist), and he didn't need to see any of the X-rays, including the most recent full panorex taken at the hospital.

I was all smiles at this news, especially as now instead of having to wait until January for a new tooth, I would have my dental implant completed in time for Christmas, ('All I want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth' as the song goes!)

After the dental Implant had been fitted

After the dental Implant had been fitted

I went to the new dentist for the implant to be placed on the 7th December 2011. It took less than half an hour for the process to be completed. It wasn't painful, although perhaps a little uncomfortable in places, and both the dentist and his nurse were totally professional throughout, explaining step by step what they were doing and why. Having fitted the implant post, they adapted the temporary denture so that I could still wear it for the next week whilst the crown was made according to dental impressions they had taken of both my upper and lower teeth.

When I left the practice after the implant I was in mild pain for about eight hours, but as they had explained, this was due to the pressure on the bone now the implant was in place. I didn't need painkillers at all, and found a glass of red wine took away any ache.

The final appointment was for the crown to be fitted on the post / implant, and this was on the 15th December 2011.

The end result

The end result

We now have to submit the dental bill we have paid to the States of Guernsey Social Security Department and hope they pay the full £700 grant towards it. We are still disgusted that the local authorities cannot be held liable for the full bill as it was caused as a result of a pothole in their roads that residents pay taxes for them to maintain. There is no such thing as 'No Win No Fee' legal assistance in Guernsey, and we cannot afford to sue the States of Guernsey privately even if there was an actual law they were obviously in breach of. It is very frustrating, but as soon as we see any evidence that anyone else has successfully sued them for a similar occurrence, then we will seriously look at taking action ourselves one way or another (however we pay for it).

Meanwhile I hope this article has given anyone facing a dental implant a better idea of what to expect, and also made them aware that it is worth shopping around for quotes before you commit to the first dentist you happen to go to. I am now permanently changing to the South African dentist who completed my dental implant, not least because I like him, and that he was fair, not 'greedy' with his prices.

It is also worth mentioning that anyone who is on a very tight budget can save a small fortune by going to a country like Latvia or Thailand to get this kind of dental work done. They are incredibly professional and thorough, and probably would have done the work I needed doing for under £300, which is a lot less than the £2890+ it has cost having it done in Guernsey (and which nearly cost £3890).


Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 20, 2015:

Sorry Ashley, I had to delete your comment because it contained a commercial link. Feel free to comment again if you are willing to leave out the link.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on March 26, 2012:

Thankss Rockydrj, glad you liked this article and thanks for the information about the implant costs in India. I would say that in Thailand their standards are very high, and I suspect you have less chance of getting a 'Quack' there than many other countries. I am sure in India they are very good because the doctors there are amazing, so why not the dentists too!

rockydrj on March 26, 2012:

Hi Misty. Gosh, that was one hell of an experience with your teeth, but am glad that you got urself a good deal at the end of the day and your new teeth looks good. Also, although Thailand and some of the south eastern countries are pretty cheap with implant and dental treatment, if you get into the wrong hands (quacks) you might as well say Goodbye to your teeth. India also has some great quality implant centers. I am from India, hence the inclination. But really, if any of you guys want to get your implant done, I am sure India is a choice destination. Cost of implants range from 300 pounds to 1000 pounds. In any case, thank you for your experience and god bless

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 18, 2012:

Thanks Lesley, I certainly did the road pretty hard and felt the tooth immediately shatter, (I had to spit part of it out), the rest of it was as shown in the early photos, and then the dentist removed the bottom half and the nerve as you see in the following pic. Really traumatic experience in terms of losing the tooth in the way I did, and for as long as I did, but all is well now, and I feel back to my normal self again.

Glad you liked this article.

Lesley on February 18, 2012:

...ah, of course...I didn't think about inflammation around the bone and jaw...and you did give yourself a bit of a hammering off that road! Ouch. Just wanted to add I think you did a great job with this blog. Clear and concise, and with a picture diary, which gives anyone contemplating similar treatment a great source of information. Great job, and great result for you :) x

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 17, 2012:

Thanks Lesley, I think they waited because they needed to check that no underlying damage was going show up in the bone, plus they wanted the inflammation to go down. That said, I am pretty sure the first dentist dragged it out as long as he possibly could in order to maximise his profits. Still it backfired on him as I didn't stick with him to the end as you know, and I now have a fantastic new dentist and tell everyone to avoid the old one because he is a rip off. :)

Lesley on February 17, 2012:

Hi there, your teeth look lovely now!

I am surprised that you were not offered an immediate implant in the first place. A similar thing happened to me, and the dentist didn't faff around with a partial denture - I had the tooth removed, the implant placed complete with temporary acrylic crown. Three months later I had the permanent porcelain crown placed.

Mind you - I think I would have lost all confidence in that first dentist when he sent you home with that terrible partial, and didn't even bother to sort the other broken tooth, which could have allowed bacteria etc to get in and cause you to lose that tooth too! I'm afraid I would have been right out of his door never to darken it again. Glad you have found a good dentist and had such a good result!

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 28, 2012:

Thanks Steve, great to see you here. Yes it was an nightmare, especially the not being able to eat properly or smile. On the plus side I had the foresight to remember I could use the experience to write a hub, so I made sure I got or took photos throughout the process. Cheers for the 'vote up' by the way :)

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 28, 2012:

Ahhh thanks for the really sweet comment pylos26. It is lovely to be able to smile with confidence again, not to mention go back to diet that does not consist mainly of soup lol.

Steve Andrews from Lisbon, Portugal on January 28, 2012:

What a nightmare experience you went through there, Cindy, but with a happy ending eventually! A brilliant hub, and I especially liked the photographic diary showing it all! Voted up of course!

pylos26 from America on January 27, 2012:

Hi misty I was terribly saddened by your mishap and dental ordeal...On the plus side i see your beautiful smile and sassy personality has fully recovered.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 27, 2012:

Hi Gma, well assuming enameling is basically the same as having porcelain veneers done to your teeth, my Sister had this done in Thailand. It cost her a tiny fraction of the price she would have paid in the UK and covered the cost of her holiday too with what she saved (and then with change). Her teeth look lovely and white as a result.

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on January 27, 2012:

Wow! What a world of information - truly a global perspective. Traveling for a medical procedure and personal stories. This is remarkable. I wish to visit Thailand and return to Australia but never thought of this.

Any suggestions on enameling? I simply wish for my pearly whites to be white. I drink too much coffee, use the whiteners but as I age, I can see the NEED for refreshing the enamel on my teeth.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 09, 2012:

I won't say this again periodontics, please stop SPAMMING my hub, this is the second time now and I told you earlier in the comments to refrain from doing so.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 07, 2012:

I am so pleased this has been helpful to you Tech Trendy. I am delighted with my dental implant, and as it is on the very front of my 'smile' I am doubly grateful it came out looking so good. What a relief. I hope you get it done too, and am sure you will be equally delighted with your results :)

TechTrendy on January 07, 2012:

Misty, I can't thank you enough for sharing your experience and providing me the link to this hub. I ended up having to get a bottom molar extracted due to tooth getting infected thanks to the fine military dentists I was assigned during my tour. The specialist I saw said implants were pretty much my only option so this hub has helped answer some questions I was looking for.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 07, 2012:

Thanks Aunt Mollie, some of the pics are a little embarrassing, but important to share none the less :)

Aunt Mollie on January 07, 2012:

This is a wonderful article. I think it is very generous of you to share this experience. Thank you for posting this!

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 06, 2012:

Sorry not to allow your comment periodontics, but you included a commercial link and therefore it would qualify as SPAM if I allowed it. Feel free to comment without including a link and I will allow it. :)

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 01, 2012:

Hi Steve,

Go for it, really I can hardly tell the difference between my implant and my original tooth. I am so glad I didn't opt for a bridge and have to lose part of the teeth each side in order for the bridge to be attached to them.

Steve LePoidevin from Thailand on January 01, 2012:

Great info! Still haven't decided if I am going to have an implant to replace a tooth that was knocked out last week in Shanghai!

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 28, 2011:

LOL, thanks Eranofu, I know, my life is a bit crazy, but glad you enjoy my writing style :)

Eranofu from Europe on December 28, 2011:

Your new tooth looks nice. :)

I like to read the stories of your accidents. Don't get me wrong I truly wish you wouldn't get into them. But I don't know what, something in your style makes me read your stories till the end.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 20, 2011:

Interesting info Frickd, I can't say I know anything about the standard of dentistry in Mexico, but I do know that in Thailand it is off the scale in terms of professionalism, and for what my Sister and her Fiancé saved by having their treatments performed there they paid for an entire holiday including flights, accommodation, food and for one of them a complete set of frontal crowns, and the other a complete set of porcelain veneers. Bearing in mind we live in Guernsey in the British Channel Islands and it costs us a lot of money just to get a flight to the UK mainland before even paying for a flight to Thailand, I am surprised this would not be a more affordable option for someone from the US, although of course Mexico is closer, but maybe not as cheap as Thailand.

Apparently I am informed from a reputable medical source within our local hospital, the 24 hours implants are the least likely to have a problem so long as the damage from any impact wound has healed up first (3 months after the impact is the minimum time to wait ideally). This is because every time you open up the gum you risk introducing infection, but if you only open it up once this risk is halved.

By the way, I see you have a site that specialises in referring people to Mexico for dental work. I have allowed your link to stay here, but I would suggest you ask other hubbers before posting links in their comments as it is considered appropriate to ask first, and many will simply delete a comment that contains a link otherwise :)

frickd from Canada on December 19, 2011:

For people located in Canada and the USA, the best option for obtaining low cost dental implants is dental tourism to Mexico. This is true whether you need one implant or several. The savings are generally 60%, and the travel costs are very affordable. This allows patients to combine affordable dental care with a holiday in a beautiful destination.

So far rhe major stumbling block of this option has been the lack of objective, informed, reliable sources of information and advice. A person's oral health is not something that should be left to chance. With the assistance of a reputable international dental referral service (see: http://www.holidaydental.ca), dental tourists can avoid possible dental tourism pitfalls, save money (possibly a lot of it) and enjoy a beachfront Mexico vacation as a bonus.

The 24 hour solution you are referring to are called immediate load implants. Generally these are not recommended for dental tourism scenarios as they have a significantly higher failure rate than two stage implant treatments.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 17, 2011:

Wow Barry, what on earth are you doing to yourself to need 3??? Do you like boxing with kangaroos or something?

I was put off by not having the total funds to go straight to Thailand and get it all done quickly, but was assured by friends who have been out there for dental work that they can do this kind of work in less than 24 hours. The only thing they would of course have had to 'wait' on would be the initial healing in an impact injury such as mine. It seems that they are more thorough than many other countries dentists, but at a fraction of the price. Of course the old fashioned method of dental implants involved stages where the gum was cut open to allow the implant to be put into the upper mandible, then the gum was stitched over it and left to heal. Some time later the patient returns and the gum is reopened and a post added, before a crown is later added to the post. The reason this is not done as often in recent times is the increased risk of infection by repeatedly opening up the tissue. For a normal implant in a healed gum I am guessing from what was done with me, they could probably have done the whole process in 24 hours. The only reason for a weeks delay between the implant and the crown being added in my case, was this was how long it took for the crown to be made on a neighbouring island. In Thailand they do this overnight.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 17, 2011:

Hi Dr Moiz, will do :)

Barry Rutherford from Queensland Australia on December 17, 2011:

I agree it would be cheaper to be done in Thailand for say me in Australia. I have had three done here in Australia. But then you would need to make at least three trips for this treatment. It would be okay for you really wanted to visit Thailand but otherwise the cost would be around the same including airfares tie and earnings lost etc..

Moiz Ahmad Khan from USA on December 17, 2011:

Hi, Nice that you posted your own experience. I have written a hub on dental implants too check em if you like

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