Friday, September 03, 2010
In the mid 1950's Per-Ingvar Brånemark, a Swedish scientist, was studying blood flow in rabbit bone. When it was time to remove the implanted titanium chamber he was using for the purpose, the bone had so thoroughly integrated with the chamber that he couldn't remove it. Realizing the possibility for use in humans, he named the phenomenon he discovered, "osseointegration."
I now benefit directly from the most common application of this phenomenon, dental implants, of which an x-ray image is shown at right. I post now, just after returning from the dentist, where my second attempt at a tricky implant succeeded today. This closes the book, I hope, on the decades-long aftermath of a childhood injury. The injury ultimately resulted in the loss of three of my front teeth, including one two years ago, and my having to wear braces during college. Other than three "cavities" (a diagnosis I now doubt) over a decade ago and bruxism (which a $20.00 mouthguard renders moot), that one injury has been my sole source of dental difficulties.
I'm not completely out of the woods yet, but if I am careful about the bruxism and remain reasonably conscientious about my dental hygiene (as I always have), I can probably expect to have this "tooth" for the rest of my life, which makes its price well worth it.
It is astounding how many little annoyances come with a missing tooth in the front part of the mouth. Here are just a few: I haven't been able to eat anything one has to bite into in public for the past couple of years. If I wore the denture (which I was very happy to have, and have kept), I had a mild lisp. If I left it out, I couldn't pronounce the letter "f" very well. If I had the denture out and had to speak to anyone, I'd cover my mouth. It is so nice to have all that behind me.
There's a hamburger somewhere with my name on it. I never knew such a thing could sound so exciting, but it sure does!