David Tickell tells his story of how his dental implant surgery has changed his life
David Tickell, from Birdham West Sussex has been a beneficiary of the Thalidomide Trust for the last four years. His work as a water treatment systems designer has taken him all over the world, but when he’s at home he enjoys spending time with friends and family and walking with his dog.
As well as travelling for work, David enjoys holidays abroad, and it was when he broke a tooth, on the Greek Island of Paxos in 2016, that he realised it was time to tackle his dental problems – leading to his undergoing dental implant surgery.
David's local dental practice helped get the process started
“I’d had dental problems for some time”, David explains, “I already had a denture with two or three teeth on it and had been getting toothache and related headaches.
When the dentist’s x-rays revealed that all my top teeth were infected, eating at the bone, there was no other option than to have all nine of them taken out.
Facing the prospect of having to have a full denture, I decided that I would go for dental implant surgery using my health grant.”
“Thalidomide has left me with Facial palsy, hearing loss as well as eye and ear damage to the right side of my head. It’s hard to tell whether this has also affected my teeth. I was terrified of dentists so didn’t go as often as I should, so I’m more inclined to think that my own neglect was the cause of my problems.”
David’s local dental practice put him in touch with an implant specialist, Dr Wassim Chawich, who undertook the surgery and has an impressive track record of successes.
“He is based in London but works with practices around the country.” David recounts “He visited my practice once a month and all my treatment was carried out there.”
Several procedures were needed to ensure implants were successful
“The whole process started in January 2017 when I had a two hour appointment to have my top teeth removed. Then after a month I had a plate fitted so I had teeth whilst my gums healed.
In March 2017 I had a five hour operation to have two sinus lifts, where granulated cow bone was inserted into my jaw to increase thickness and density of my existing bone. Seven titanium implant buttresses were also inserted at the same time.
They put caps over the implants whilst they bonded to the jaw – and I had to have 100 stitches to hold everything in place. During the recovery period I had a 360◦ 3D CRI scan so that the technicians could begin to construct my new teeth.
Nine months later I had to be opened up again to fit the long screws and frame to my jaw and then, whilst further healing was taking place, I had several tests to make sure the implants were strong and several wax impressions so that my new teeth could be made at a dental lab.
The dentist and technician make several ‘proofs’ to make sure everything is right, and check that your bite is comfortable and correct.”
“Last October”, recalls David, “Dr Chawich said I needed more healing time, and that my final fitting might happen in March 2018. It then had to be delayed again and, after a further delay, should be fitted next week (late May 2018).”
“In all I’ve had about ten appointments, “ David laughs “and having previously been terrified of dentists I think I could cope with anything now!”
Dental implants have changed David's life
“When the process started I was petrified and had to get valium from my GP to go through my appointments. The pain between surgery was practically non-existent, I could eat the day after my long operation. The only uncomfortable thing was the stitches, which didn’t dissolve as they should have and had to be taken out by my dentist.
I’ve had to make sure I have a healthy mouth, using mouthwash, and my plate has had to be changed a bit as my jaw settles. The most embarrassing bit was going without teeth for a short while, but it was worth it. I’ll be glad to see the back of my plate, though, as using adhesive every day is a bit of a palaver.
My new teeth will be far stronger than my old ones, they’re made of titanium. I think it will take a couple of weeks to get used to having more space in my mouth! Having a dental plate takes up a lot of room on your palate – and the changes may make speaking a very different experience at first.”
All in all, David’s dental work has cost £28,500.00 but he doesn’t regret it.
“It’s a very good idea to get it done – it can change your life”, he explains. “The only thing I’d do differently if I had my time over again would be to go to a practice where everything could be done in one place, rather than having a separate lab, and a separate surgeon. I think it would have made the process quicker.”
David's story comes to a very happy ending
‘’Finally it’s finished!’’ He says with glee,’’ The specialist came down to my local dentist in Wittering on Thursday night and completed my implants. Wow!! what a difference already. They feel and look completely natural and the bite is perfect. I have had three steaks and 3 burgers over the weekend and I can honestly say, it’s been so many years since I tasted and enjoyed eating food so much!’’
‘’I am off to Paxos again, this week and will enjoy it so much better now. I am still trying to talk again properly as it is another new experience to get used to, but that will come in time. To say it will improve my life is an understatement. Money well spent!”
“I’d definitely encourage other beneficiaries to go for dental implants if they’re having problems”, he says, “In fact, I’m surprised that more of them haven’t.”