A patient’s perspective

One of our patients went to a great deal of trouble to detail her experience of having an implant. This was what she wrote on her feedback form and kindly gave her permission for us to share.

Why did you decide to have an implant?

Having recently had a back tooth (lower left) extracted, I felt incredibly emotional about the gap in my mouth and extremely self-conscious about even smiling. The feeling of an incomplete arch distressed me and I felt I was feeling it with my tongue all the time. I was pre-occupied with the space and it had an effect on my self-esteem, which seems ridiculous, but I have always had a fear of losing teeth. I had had an unsuccessful white filling in the tooth as a young woman, which weakened the tooth and I felt my vanity had compromised my teeth. My dentist gave me a number of options to replace the gap, such as a bridge but he said the optimum solution was an implant. As I didn’t wish to damage the tooth behind the gap with a bridge, I decided that if I could afford an implant, I would certainly go for it.

What aspects of having an implant worried you most?

Dr Cockrell explained the procedure and I also conducted a lot of research online about the procedure. The majority of websites were American, where it seems the procedure has been carried out for longer (I may be wrong) but there seemed to be no aspect of having an implant that should cause me concern. My only slight concern was the possibility of hitting the nerve that runs down the jaw, but it was explained to me that there was a very small percentage chance of that happening and the benefits far outweighed the risk. I have to say, I am not really a nervous patient, so neither the possibility of pain nor discomfort ever concerned me – in fact a small amount of pain was worth it to have a tooth back!

What was your experience of the implant process?

The experience was very simple and totally painless, to my surprise. I had a couple of hour long consultations, a scan, then the actual operation took about two hours. I was anaesthetised, my face cleaned, and a small incision made in the gum. The hole was then drilled, which was done so carefully, the implant carefully positioned and screwed in and the incision was then stitched with a couple of perfect stitches – one can certainly tell Dr Cockrell is a doctor, too, as the stitches were immaculate.

I was amazed how I felt nothing – not even post-operatively – having my 3 children had been much more uncomfortable! I can honestly say that the worst bit was having my face disinfected before the surgery, as the cloth was cold. Following the implant, I had to be careful not to have hot or cold drinks or hard food and I was fastidious about keeping the area clean, including regular mouth washes and salt water rinses. I was thrilled it was so simple – there was a wait of a couple of months with a little metal bump in my mouth, but it was not noticeable, only if I opened my mouth and forced someone to look! Once the measurements were taken for the crown and it was fitted, I couldn’t have been happier. I also did not feel the need for an anaesthetic for the crown to be fitted, as there was so little discomfort.

What is your opinion of the final result?

I am delighted with the implant – it looks incredibly tooth like and it feels right – funnily enough, it felt odd to have the gap filled after disliking having a gap but the body’s very clever as it gets used to whatever you do to it and my mouth had got used to the gap – probably because I thought about it too much. The only thing to be aware of is that you have to inter-dentally brush round the tooth every day, as it does trap food more than regular teeth due to the shape underneath but it’s making me brush between the others, too, which is a good habit to employ.

It looks great – I am thrilled – and Dr Cockrell was outstanding. I’ve never been treated by anyone so professional, calm and personable. I could have kissed him when I saw the final result, but I didn’t think it appropriate! In seriousness, it’s been worth every penny, although it’s not cheap and I have three lots of school fees, so I had to dig deep to fund the implant. Nonetheless, should I face a similar issue, I would gladly re-mortgage our home to fund it, as I feel far more relaxed when carrying out any function which involves the mouth – in fact, it’s lovely to see it when I brush my teeth, whereas I always focused on the space.

Would you consider having an implant to replace another tooth?

Without a shadow of a doubt, I’d recommend it to anyone and indeed, I have done to friends so far. If the bone graft were needed, I’d go for that too. It’s definitely worth the time and any minor discomfort.

Was the process painful?

No, at no point. I was expecting some tenderness, but I did not even have to take Paracetamol.

What does the implant ‘feel’ like now it is in situ?

The implant feels like any other normal tooth. I am extremely careful to keep it very clean, as not doing so can cause problems and I’m desperate that it lasts as long as possible. There is no question I would recommend the treatment to others.

Dr Cockrell is a registered member of the Association of Dental Implantology. This organisation has produced an unbiased information leaflet for patients considering implant surgery. The leaflet outlines the procedure and addresses many commonly asked questions.