At the age of 13, I told my mum I wanted a nice smile, unknown to me at the time, this was the start of my long journey to achieve it.
My local dentist explained that I had several teeth which overlapped and would require extensive corrective treatment and dedication from me. Having convinced him that I really did want a nice smile, I was referred to a specialist at the dental hospital in Edinburgh. I spent 2 long years of corrective action, with heavy metal braces fixed to both top and bottom and tiny elastic bands to 'pull' the teeth into line, as braces were back in the early 70's. This treatment was eventually completed and the braces removed to reveal a set of evenly spaced teeth, I no longer felt self conscious or embarrassed to laugh.
This 'freedom' continued until at the age of 18, I fainted and knocked out my top 3 front teeth. From here on I was to 'suffer' various bridge designs, some better than others, but always aware of their vulnerability and the subsequent embarrassment, contributing to low self esteem over the next 30 odd years.
In Spring 2007, and coming up to my 50th birthday, my existing bridge, which had served me well for over 20 years, was now well past its 'expected end of life' and after several discussions with my local dentist at Smile Design, Dr Komal Suri referred me to Dominic Hassall to discuss the options available.
After further consultations and X-rays, Dominic carefully explained that I could replace the existing bridge with a newer model or a more expensive option was to consider implants. This was a no brainer; I had no hesitation and immediately selected the implant option.
At this stage of my life I was fortunate to have the funds to pay for this treatment, but did feel obliged to look at the new 'dental holidays' now being quoted at half the cost of the UK treatments. However, regardless of the 'cheaper' foreign options, I was convinced that the experience which I had already received from Smile Design, provided me with the trust in their ability to do a caring and professional job and provide me with more guarantees than the foreign treatments.
Having elected to carry on with the treatment from Smile Design, more consultations, X-rays and scans showed that I had insufficient bone density to hold the implants in place. Again, Dominic carefully explained the treatments to 'add' more bone together with a 'ballpark' figure of the additional costs. It was explained to me that there was two methods, they could use a bone graft either from my nose or hip, which requires an additional operation and recovery, or 'synthetic bone' which my body may reject.
This setback also allowed me to reflect on whether the foreign treatments would have advised me of this fact, or would they have just taken my money and allowed me to find this out several years down the line.
In Oct 07, I had the operation to add more bone density using the synthetic bone and awaited the results. By Nov 08, Dominic was fully satisfied that the operation had been successful and there was now sufficient bone to 'hold' the implants securely.
In Dec 08, Komal measured me up for the implants, and at this stage I also knew that I wanted my other teeth whitened to match my new implants. Again, I was advised of the options available, whitening, veneers or caps, with each one carefully explained, together with a quote. I selected the veneers for the teeth either side of the implants and whitening for my lower teeth.
Approximately, 18 months on from my first appointment with Komal, on Feb 16th 2009, I had my final appointment to get the implants and veneers fitted. Six months on, when I laugh or smile I still catch myself thinking how amazing it is that I no longer have to worry or be embarrassed to laugh naturally without 'shielding' behind my hand.
One lesson I learnt through this experience, was that the longer you leave treatment, the more work will have to be done in the future. If at the age of 18 I had been able to get implants instead of a bridge, I would not have needed the painful operation for the additional bone.