My 2021 Dental Saga

If you’ve been following me on Twitter and seeing my posts, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been going to the dentist a lot lately.

Two things I swore I’d do after getting fully vaccinated was go to the dentist and get a haircut (since I could do neither of those things the past two years thanks to the pandemic). I figured I might as well try to get as much work done as I could while restrictions on going out are a little looser.

I didn’t really think about getting veneers done at first. It was suggested to me on a dental visit several years ago as an option for my two frontmost teeth on my upper arch, both of which had restorations that needed regular maintenance since they were prone to bad staining.

I opted out of the procedure back then because I was a heavy smoker, and I drank a lot of coffee. The veneers the dentist was suggesting were expensive, and I would have had to quit both smoking and coffee if I wanted them to remain stain-free. I wasn’t ready to give up both habits (and seriously, I don’t think I can ever quit coffee), so I set the idea aside.

Fast forward to recently—with more disposable income, a kicked smoking habit, and full vaccination—I figured I’d ask the dentist about veneer work. They suggested almost a full overhaul of my teeth: restorative work plus veneers for my upper and lower arches, along with extractions of my lower wisdom teeth that I apparently never got done (really not looking forward to that).

Out of all the procedures, I looked forward to the veneers because I’ve always been extremely self-conscious about the appearance of my teeth—thanks in part to early childhood dental work that traumatized me. So now, older and presumably wiser, I figured that if I can fix my teeth and dental habits now, it’d save me much frustration in the future. And pain. So much pain.

Getting veneer work isn’t as rosy as influencers would like you to believe, though.

I had to get almost full restorative work done before my teeth could be prepped for the veneer work, which meant two almost 4-hour sessions for upper and lower arch restorations.

Then the worst part was the prep work for the actual veneers, which included yet another 4 or so hours of teeth shaving (I looked like a shark at one point) and fitting temporary acrylic veneers. Those were meant to be a preview of the final veneers and protection for your teeth for at least a week before the final installation.

The week on temporary veneers was the most exhausting because I could only eat soft food for the entire duration, and because the acrylic was so thick. They had to be, to protect my teeth. I had difficulty talking and thinking about anything other than my teeth. My confidence plummeted to zero for the week that I was wearing the acrylic veneers.

The installation of the actual veneers was also painful. Even with anesthesia I still felt sensitivity once they removed the temp veneers (which felt like getting repeatedly hammered in the head) and while each piece of porcelain was fitted and cemented to what was left of my actual teeth.

By the end of it all… well, I was so chockful of anesthesia that when the dentist asked me to smile for their records, I could barely move my mouth. It was only when the anesthesia wore off completely that I could appreciate my new smile.

While I don’t regret getting veneers, I should probably provide a couple of warnings. First, if you happen to be young and have healthy teeth, this is probably not something you should think about getting until you’re much older. Veneers don’t last forever: the ones I got should last me a good 15 years with proper maintenance, so I will be well into my fifties before I need to get them replaced. Second, veneers cost a lot. Even the cheapest option is still Php 10k a tooth, which will only last you a good 5 years or so.

Obviously, I’m not a dentist, so you should still consult with one for whatever dental work you may need.

It’s been a few days since my veneers got installed, so I’m a little more used to them now. While my dental saga is not over yet (I still need to get the extractions, and I’m pretty sure I broke a back tooth that I need to get fixed soon), I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

After that, it’ll be another 6 months before I should revisit the dentist.

My dental habits have been completely overhauled by this experience. Nothing like spending countless hours at the dentist in the span of a month to shock me into submission.

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