In case you missed it, my first blog post covered the initial planning stages of my dental implant process. Now friends, this was where the real fun began. My treatment plan included one upper jaw bone graft to build up bone density in my jaw, six upper implants that would eventually connect to a permanent upper bridge, and four lower implants to connect to a permanent lower bridge.

Overall, the procedures were surprisingly less unpleasant than I had convinced myself they would be. First up was my upper bone graft which was strategically scheduled to occur during my winter break. I learned pretty quickly that you don’t just decide to get a bone graft, show up for your surgery and call it a day.

Before surgery day there are decisions to be made and many things to consider. Luckily I had an amazing oral surgeon who helped explain everything to me. I wasn’t expecting to be asked to choose the type of material used for my graft. I’m far from a doctor so I won’t go into detail regarding the options laid out for me.

In the end I decided to go with a bone graft material that is not typically used in upper jaw bone grafts. If my memory serves me correctly, it was a material used in many other bone graft procedures but had not yet been established as a go-to material for the type of graft I was to receive. I made my choice in material. All that was left were some bone scans and x-rays to help the doctor see where I needed my bone built up.

On the day of the procedure I was freaked out. When they called me back to the pre-op room, I genuinely considered busting through the window and making a daring escape, never to be seen again. Instead, I did everything the doctors asked me to do and was quite polite.

In the O.R. being strapped into the chair, I was really freaked out. I guess I was scared of something going wrong but most of all I think I was scared of the unknown because once this surgery was done, there would be no backing out of the implants. I’d be in it to win it. The good news was that I didn’t have much time to freak out because I was administered anesthesia and fell asleep, but not before giggling uncontrollably.

I emerged from surgery jovial and puffy. I was still alive. One procedure down and two to go. The healing process after the bone graft surgery was pretty easy. I quickly learned that the prescribed pain medication did not agree with my stomach, so I decided to forgo pain medication. Fortunately I experienced almost zero pain post surgery.

This is not to say I wasn’t uncomfortable, but what I experienced was more along the lines of soreness and general discomfort. The two weeks following my bone graft surgery I lived off of Netflix and mac & cheese. I am weird and believe firmly that soup is NOT a meal so I insisted on eating somewhat solid foods.

Eating wasn’t an issue. I just had to be aware of my stitches and lay off of anything crunchy. The one negative side of my recovery was that I experienced facial swelling. For about two weeks following my surgery I looked like I had met the business end of a shovel. The swelling wasn’t fun but as I mentioned before, it was not painful; just slightly uncomfortable.

With one surgery in the can, I returned to my normal routine. At this point I was eager to keep the process moving so I could finish as soon as possible. The only catch was I needed to wait at least 6 months between surgeries to make sure my graft built up enough bone.

So with that in mind, I took a six month breather and focused on being a college student, albeit with appointments every few weeks to check on how my healing was progressing. Once I got the green light from my oral surgeon, the next procedure would be the first of two implant surgeries.


(Read Part III of Jacob’s story.)

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10 comments on “My Smile – 23 Years in the Making – Part 2”

  1. 1
    jesssans1 on April 24, 2015

    WOW. Talk about getting down to business. I am relieved to hear that you found ways to manage the pain and be comfortable after the graft procedure. The mac and cheese bit made me laugh. I’m curious about how you managed to speak/function and if you just put life on a much-needed break or if you went to classes throughout the healing time.

    1. 2
      Jacob on April 29, 2015

      Hey Jess, thanks for reading! That’s a great question. I was VERY worried about how each procedure was going to effect my speech, eating and life in general. Once the swelling settled down after my graft I was pretty much back to normal. The bridges I had at the time did not change so my speech wasn’t effected. It took about a week for the stitches to dissolve and once they were gone it was back to business as usual. As for the actual implant procedures, those were a bit trickier and involved a whole lot more anxiety on my end. Anxiety that I am happy to report was unnecessary. After procedures it usually took a day or two for me to get used to talking and eating. My doctor mentioned that the time it takes to adapt to new set ups varies widely from person to person. In my next blog post I will go into greater detail about what it was like adjusting to my new teeth. Hope this was helpful!


    2. 3
      jesssans1 on April 30, 2015

      Thanks Jacob! Very helpful. Great to know that the recovery time (or at least, to feel comfortable enough to eat/talk) was relatively short. I’ve heard it takes a while and feared the worst. Looking forward to your next post!

  2. 4
    Cody Snell on April 29, 2015

    You will not regret it. I had almost the exact same surgery and amount of implants. My first surgery was March 31st 2011 and four years later it was still one of the best decisions I ever made

  3. 5
    Ann Wilcox on May 2, 2015

    Love your story Jacob. Can’t wait to read part 3!! I am the mother of identical twin boys with ectodermal dysplasia. They are just like u in that they only have the tooth issue and sparse hair and a very few skin issues. They are in their freshman year of college and will hopefully soon have their first of the three part procedures. They too will have lots of bone grafting to be done. I have been forwarding your story to them so as to ease their minds. They are so ready to get this done but we are having a few issues with money and payment. It is all quite expensive and we have two that need all of the same procedures. I wonder if u had insurance and if it covered any of your procedures?? I know that is a personal question but we are fighting our insurance company on this and I am trying to educate myself on ways to handle our situation. I am so happy that all went well for you and we look forward to hearing the rest of your story!!!

  4. 6
    My Smile – 23 Years in the Making – Part 3 | National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias on June 26, 2015

    […] is part 3 of my dental implant story. Part two left off after I finished up my upper jaw bone […]

  5. 7
    A Mom’s Take on the Dental Implant Journey | National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias on July 9, 2015

    […] My Smile – 23 Years in the Making – Part 2 […]

  6. 8
    Paula on January 15, 2022

    Hi thanks for all you information, I am 9 days in to my bone graft and I’m not having the best time, I am not in pain and the discomfort has subsided but It isn’t all closed over yet and can see some gunk that I have been rinsing and using a cotton bud to remove in the fear it is the starting of infection…. I am rinsing with salt water and brushing after everything I eat or drink. I also can’t smile or move my upper lip that concerns me massively. It feels like I have swabs in place all along my upper jaw.. it even feels the the bone is in my cheek. I am seeking and emergency app first thing

    1. 9
      Veronica Minard on January 19, 2022

      Paula, I’m so sorry to hear you are having these issues! Keep us posted on your progress – I hope you are feeling better!

    2. 10
      Sandra on June 14, 2022

      Did this get better? I am having the same issue.

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