MBJ Books & Publication

Friday, February 26, 2016

My New Mexican Teeth

When I was a little boy growing up in the projects in north New Jersey, my father worked at a he worked at charms candy company, in Bloomfield New Jersey. Having a daddy working at a candy factory meant I ate a lot of candy when I was little boy. I ate so much candy when I was a little boy I rotted out my baby front teeth before they could fall out naturally. My parents took me to a dentist to pull out the roots of my rotted baby teeth, but it was a sloppy job. When my adult teeth came in my 2 incisor teeth grew in back of my two front teeth, and my 2-K9 move forward to where the incisors should be, so I had a double Row of top teeth growing up. 
Having bad teeth, as a kid was difficult and had traumatic consequences that have affected my life to this day. It made me insecure and withdrawn around people. I was especially shy around girls, fearing that any moment they would get a look in my mouth and see my werewolf fangs and run away screaming. All that was mostly in my head, because no girls, or anyone ever ran away from me or paid attention my teeth one way or the other. But I knew they were there and in my mind they always threatened to betray me.
My parents couldn’t afford braces and Charms Candy wasn’t offering a dental plan to cover it, so I just had to learn to live with it. Hiding my teeth meant to never smile. I smiled but never big teeth bearing cheesy smile, Hollywood smiles. I was all mouth.
I finally had the 2 incisors in back pulled when I was 21-years old. Things looked a lot better after that, but the damage had already been done. I don’t have to explain this to people who know me. Just look at my old pictures and I dare you to find my teeth.
Anyway, as with us all, as I got older my teeth naturally began to deteriorate even more.  With the teeth that went missing throughout my mouth over the years to the staining and coloring of the teeth that were left, my mouth had gotten raggedy then ever and I was smiling even less than when I was a kid.
I decided to do what I have said I wanted to do all my life. I was going to by myself the smile I always wanted. I went to my dentist and told him of my dream of finally having a nice toothy smile. I mean, if you can’t be straight with your dentist about something like that - whom can you be straight with?
My dentist looked around my mouth and wrote me up a quote of $14,000 to put veneers on 10 of my teeth in front (5-up, 5-lower), plus one bridge on top. With veneers the dentist glues micro thin enamel covering over the front of your tooth. Veneers, primarily, just makes your teeth white. Veneers don’t help straighten crooked, broken, or missing teeth.
I knew my dental insurance would not pay for what is considered ”cosmetic surgery”, but I was determined to find a way to pay for it one way or another.
I came home and started doing research, when I came across an article about the huge, and inexpensive, Dental Tourist business going on in Mexico. Further research I found that for the exact same work my dentist was charging me $14,000 could be had in Mexico for $3,500.
We had all the normal concerns about going to Mexico for medical reasons. The images of dental offices in back of saloons, where the bartender is the dentist too. My wife feared I might get my throat cut and robbed, down there. My daughter said I should be careful that Mexican gangsters didn’t kidnap me and harvest my kidney to sell on the Black Market. All legit concerns.
Further research, and I found that Tijuana is the largest center in Mexico where people go from far and wide to get medical work done. Dentists are huge, in Tijuana. However, Tijuana is also wild, out of control and dangerous, 24/7. All those bad things I mentioned above, and more, is going on in Tj. I wasn’t willing to risk my life to get new teeth.
More research and I found that Los Algodones, Mexico, a small town across the border from Yuma, Arizona (USA), was also a popular destination of people seeking cheap dental work. I finally decided on Circle Dental Groups, in Los Algodones, and made an appointment for Tuesday, February 9, 2016.
I promised everyone that I would be extra cautious and on the 8th I flew to Yuma and booked a hotel room about 10 miles from the Mexican border at Los Algodones. At 8 AM the next morning I took a taxi ($30 including tip) to the border. The border at Los Algodones is small with one lane car traffic going in and one lane out though customs. People can park their cars on the US side and walk into Los Algodones, without showing a passport. You only need your passport to get back into the US from Mexico. As soon as you walk across the border your in the town of Los Algodones and the wave of towns people hawking their wares, from straw hats, to toy maracas, to key chains, to Broncos SB50 Championship T-shirts (This was 2 days after the super bowl).
There were also a lot of people trying to get your attention and interest in going to the dentist office they happen to be working for – and there were clearly a lot of dentists to choose from. It appeared that every other store on either side of the street was a dentist’s office, or Eye Glass business.
I knew where I was going and I kept focused and moving towards my destination, Circle Dental Group. Straight to the first corner, after crossing the border; make a right; go one block and Circle Dental Groups office if there on the corner. I had walked the route several times on Google Maps, so I felt like familiar with everything. I was relieved when I got to my destination and found that the Office looked just as it did on Google, also. It was clean, modern and professional, inside and outside.
After x-rays and a consultation with the dentist, It was determined that considering the crooked and missing teeth I had, veneers would not give me the results that I was seeking in a smile. I decided that having my teeth crowned was the way to go. By 4:30 that day all my existing teeth had been ground and prepared for the new crowns and bridges. They made me temporary plates and told me to come back on Friday morning (2/12/16).
I planned to stay at the hotel in Yuma until my appointment on Friday. Yuma, Arizona is a small border town with little entertainment going on. That was just as well with me because I wasn’t feeling very tourist-ish with those temporary plates in my mouth. It was difficult to eat and I mostly drank smoothies from the Wal-Mart up the road. I just chilled in my room sleeping and watching TV.
Friday I went back over to Los Algodones to get my new smile. After a few adjustments, the dentist finally glued the crowns into place and it was magical. I went back to the hotel and stood in the bathroom mirror for what seemed like hour looking at my new teeth, I couldn’t believe it. Every time I would leave the bathroom, I would be back in there in 2-3 minutes to look in the mirror again at my new teeth. They were everything I had imagined they’d be.
I remember the dentist showing me a tray of sample teeth and asking me to chose which color teeth I wanted. I was like, “What color do I want? Man, stop playing. I want WHITE teeth! The whitest and brightest you got!” I didn’t go all the way to Mexico to buy “off-white” teeth.
Anyway, it’s been a couple of weeks and everything is going well, thank God. My mouth is healing nicely. There was never any pain, but a little sensitivity in the beginning. I’m learning my new teeth, how to eat, how to talk and how to smile. I found that toothy smiling is an art and if you don’t know how to do it you come across looking like a grinning maniac. I had to work on my smile, because I intend to use my new teeth
I hope that I don’t offend anyone, with my shameless cheesing on Facebook, or wherever. If you spent a lot of money on a new car wouldn’t you drive it so people could see you in it? If you bought a new pair of shoes or new suit, wouldn’t you wear it to church so everyone could see you? If you got a new weave, would you put on a hat? No, you’d swing your head around at every opportunity to make everyone notice your new hair. I’m just saying that, for a while until the thrill is gone, I going to be throwing my new smile around. 
I also want to recommend that anyone facing high costs for dental work consider going to Los Algodones. You can talk to the clinics on the telephone or email to set up your appointment. As I said earlier, the clinics are clean and the doctors are among the best anywhere. The offices are full of Americans getting everything from fillings, to cleanings. You can also get cheap glasses, etc. while you’re down there.
The work I had done would have cost me over $22,000 here in the states. My total cost, including dental work, airfare, hotel and expenses came to less than one-third that amount. They also give a 5-year full guarantee on the work and they take credit cards.
In conclusion, I feel grateful and give All Praise and Thanks to God for my new smile.

Home Schooling. Excerpt from my novel, Fatherhoodlum: Chronicles of a Prison Dad. Michael B. Jackson

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