DEAR TOOTH FAIRY

BY MARIA THATTIL

Dear Tooth Fairy,

It has been a while since I’ve written to you. How long  specifically? 14, 15 years? My letters are a little more sophisticated than they were back then. For starters, you’ll be pleased to see they aren’t illegible and written in fat, colourful texta’s. You’ll also be pleased to know we’ve evolved with the digital age so rather than leave you a crumpled piece of paper stained with the blood of my milk teeth under my pillow, I’m writing to you via blog. So sanitary, right?

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I bet you thought you wouldn’t hear from me again. I mean, not after the last debacle. I know you thought it was weird that I didn’t start losing teeth till I was 9. And let’s take a trip down Trauma Lane. There was the time that I threw a ball into the air and it fell onto my face, knocking out my front teeth and cracking my gums. There was that time at aged 10 where I was taken to the dentist to get a baby tooth removed. However, I was terrified in that chair, and after screaming and crying for two hours, I left with the teeth in my mouth. Needles were waved in my face and I was held down in the chair, but I was a tough little (terrified) cookie. Don’t you remember? I didn’t let her take them. The whole thing ingrained in me a fear of the dentist that would live in my muscles, my veins, and my mind for the next 15 years.

The last time I lost a baby tooth, I didn’t write to you. I was 18, so it was pretty uncool. But my canine was super loose and out it came. Another scary trip to the dentist, only this time I didn’t kick or scream – I just bawled my eyes out till the tooth came out. It took two years for the adult tooth to descend. At the time, I thought it was hilarious to have a prominent gap in my mouth – it made for a good story and a good laugh. But two years is a long time, and it took so long due to crowding.

18, carefree … and tooth free

18, carefree … and tooth free

So, here I am at 25 and I can tell you that truthfully, I am very insecure about my teeth. Correcting my dental issues has been something I have wanted to do for years, but it is expensive and a huge investment – financially, physically and emotionally. But as I have progressed into my twenties, secured a great job and am getting closer to important milestones in my life, I have decided that I need to take action now.

Back when I was 18, I worked as a part-time Patient Care Coordinator at Freedom Dental (formerly known as Albert Square Dental). Freedom Dental is a premium dental clinic in Australia that I knew first-hand provided high quality treatment with exceptional customer service, specialising in general and cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics. So when it came to deciding where to go for my teeth transformation, I had no hesitation in trusting my former employer with handling the transformation of my smile. 

I had initial consultations and x-rays and inquired about Invisalign. Several issues were identified:

1.     I have immense crowding.

2.     My arch is narrow, resulting in negative space in my smile.

3.     I have retained two baby teeth (teeth #12 and #13) that are smaller than the rest of my teeth.

4.     Due to crowding, the canine that I lost at age 18 (tooth #11) has grown slightly on it’s side, so from certain angles, it looks like it is missing.

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Commencing with Invisalign with the current state of my teeth was not a good idea though. My two remaining baby teeth were hanging on by tiny roots, with the adult teeth right above them. If I were to start Invisalign without extracting them, I ran the risk of having the teeth fall out post treatment, and undoing the hard work and straightening of my teeth. Without a contingency plan in place, I would have to surgically remove the adult teeth in my gum just to get implants - that would cost more than investing in correcting my entire smile, proactively.

Initially, I thought I was going to be looking at in excess of $20,000 to fix my teeth (if I were to require implants). However, by taking a proactive approach and investing in the extractions first, my entire treatment plan was under $9,000.

 So, my initial treatment plan is as follows:

1.     Extract the two baby teeth.

2.     Surgically expose the adult teeth by lasering away excess gum.

3.     Commence Invisalign.

4.     Use anchorage to bring down the adult teeth if they struggle to drop.

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On the 10th January 2019, I went in for those extractions. I was so nervous, I cried the night before. I’ve had nightmares in the weeks leading up. It is fear of the unknown. I’ve never had an extraction before, how was I to know how it would go? I was to be looked after by the highly experienced and kind Dr. Tina Raj. She prescribed me 10mg of Valium to be taken prior to the procedure to calm my nerves going into the appointment. The Valium relaxed me greatly, I walked in feeling fine and that feeling of my heart beating out of my chest ceased. I was then given ‘happy gas’ (nitrous oxide) which heavily sedated me. I remember googling frantically the night before what I would feel on those drugs – I desperately wanted to know I would not be in my usual frame of mind. I can assure you, I was on another planet. Relaxed, calm and in good spirits, I then received numbing gel on the site where I was to receive the local anaesthetic and I barely felt the needle when the time came.

My teeth prior to commencing Invisalign.

My teeth prior to commencing Invisalign.

It was truly odd being awake at the time of the procedure. They had Netflix on the screen above me so I was totally distracted by the new Netflix Original “You” starring the beautiful Penn Badgley. The only time I wasn’t paying attention to “You” was when I felt her twisting out my baby teeth and truthfully, it was actually really cool being awake for it. They slid out like a little screw and I felt NO pain – just the slight pressure of the movement. Even when they were surgically removing my gum with laser, I felt NOTHING but slight pressure – and could smell popcorn, which apparently is the smell of the machine, not my gums. I can safely say, Dr. Tina eradicated a 15 year long phobia of dentists in one sitting. I quite liked being awake for the procedure, saved myself another thousand dollars by avoiding going under for it and got to keep up with new favourite TV show. In fact, if I ever need to get my wisdoms out, I will likely do it in chair.

After the procedure, I was seriously groggy. I mean, look at the accompanying image. This is how you know you will always get the real thing with me, I’m putting this s**t on the internet. My speech was slowed, I wasn’t in my right frame of mind, and I was slightly nauseous from all the laughing gas (which quickly went away after 15 minutes of breathing pure oxygen). Fortunately for me, I had my beautiful boyfriend with me who took me to the Practice, held my hand as I had the anaesthetic administered, waited in the room with me till I gave him the all clear to leave, and then took me home. I am incredibly blessed to have him – he has seen me at my absolute worst (seriously, the photo) and never fails to take the utmost care of me and I don’t think I could’ve gone through the process without him (literally and figuratively) holding my hand through it.

Post surgery - still time for a selfie #bloodygood

Post surgery - still time for a selfie #bloodygood

So, here I am Tooth Fairy. 1 week later, swelling gone and with my aligners in. The gum has healed beautifully, the adult teeth are coming through, the gap is barely noticeable as it is a little further back in my mouth, and I am eating normal food again. I really hope you enjoyed this letter. If you haven’t already realised, I am swinging for a solid $100 bill for the above - $50 per tooth, I deserve it and after all, this is the last time you will be hearing from me.

I’m happy for you to just transfer via online banking, let’s move with the times.

5 days later - swelling gone, pontiffs and aligners in - you can barely tell I’ve had my teeth and some gum removed!

5 days later - swelling gone, pontiffs and aligners in - you can barely tell I’ve had my teeth and some gum removed!

 All my love,

MT x