A rugby player’s journey to a winning smile
Even a brute like me needs help sometimes, and cosmetic dental surgery changed my life. I know- not the first thing you’d expect to hear from a member of the Greene King IPA Championship. And I’ll admit, it would be much easier for me to talk about rugby or relive last years semi-final game against Bristol, but that is for another time.
My journey to cosmetic dentistry started long, long ago, when I was just a lad. My two brothers and I always used to fool around, beating up on each other in the yard, driving my poor mother mad. By the time we reached year five each of us had broken an arm or leg, or chipped a tooth or two-or three. I grew up in a working class town in the West Midlands, so trips to the dentist were few and far between. Regular cleanings and braces, let alone cosmetic dentistry were far beyond our means. Unfortunate for mum and dad, the injuries only increased after we all started playing rugby. Had they known then I’d make a career out of it, I think they would have ran for the hills.
As a forward I have received my fair of bumps and bruises over the years. From dislocated shoulders and fingers, to bum knees and concussions, I’ve pretty must run the gauntlet. And while these all healed, thanks to our team trainers and therapist, my chipped and broken teeth did not. As I am sure you can imagine, quite a few more teeth have been knocked around since my childhood. Even with a mouthguard it is hard to avoid all damage. On the field I didn’t think twice about my gnarly grin, but off the field- it was a nightmare. Even nights at the pub I could feel myself losing face anytime a pretty young lady said hello. Not to mention, years of poor dental hygiene had left my teeth discolored are far from the pearly whites most women dream of. I was a grown man and I had to do something to fix this. Immediately.
Finding a cosmetic dentistry clinic
Swallowing my pride I approached one of my trainers an afternoon after practice and asked for some advice. I felt her eyes go straight to my broken smile. “Have you ever considered cosmetic dentistry. You know, veneers?”
Of course I had considered it, but that was all I had done. I had absolutely no information and didn’t even know what kind of treatment I needed. From the little research I had done, there seemed to be an overwhelming amount of options and I was not tech savvy enough to start some internet witch-hunt for answers. That sounded like a major headache and I didn’t have time. Instead I decided to take a recommendation from my trainer and visit a clinic in Liverpool. Blinding walking into the clinic I was given a warmish welcome and immediately asked to take a seat in the waiting room. Nearly thirty-five minutes later a dental assistant lead me to a consultation room. There I waited another twenty-five minutes until my surgeon casually arrived and greeted me. About time. Ten minutes later I was walking out of the front door.
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The surgeon recommended that I have six of my top front teeth covered fitted with ceramic veneers. Estimated price? £450 per tooth. I’ll do the math for you-that’s £2,700. Not only that, but to create the molds and fit the veneers it would take between 2-3 weeks. For that money I’d expect the veneers magically appear. I don’t know any Brit who’d pay the money.
Next stop-London. I had a feeling the price would not be much better but there were significantly more clinics to choose from, and some that offered CEREC® Veneers. I learned about CEREC® from my trainer, (short for CEramic REConstructions), the most advanced technology for robotic dentistry which allowed dentists to create the perfect set of veneers in one short session. This sounded too good to be true. When I arrived at the consultation I was greeted by the dentist in the first five minutes. Good sign. I followed him to the examining room where we chatted about the rugby season and weather. Another good sign. He checked out my teeth and said it would be an easy quick fix. Yet again. And then he mentioned the price- £825 per tooth. Thats £4,950 for a surgery he promised would take less than two hours. Not a chance.
After trying several more clinics in the London area, to no avail, I decided to direct my focus elsewhere. It was not uncommon among professional athletes to leave the UK for treatment. Throughout the years I had several teammates travel to France or other European countries for major surgery, all of which returned safe and sound. I started to wonder if cosmetic dentistry abroad was a possibility as well? I then did what all intelligent men of the 21st century do- I Googled Best Veneers Abroad.
To my luck and surprise, when I searched for Best Veneers Abroad, the results were endless. Heaps of clinics seemed to be looking for patients just like myself. I narrowed my search to cosmetic dentistry clinics in Europe and began comparing prices. It was madness. I spent the next three weeks individually comparing clinics, dentists, treatments and prices- which were often not listed. I made dozens of phone calls and sent dozens of emails before deciding that there must be a better way to do this.
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That is when I found it. An end-to-end, full service platform that allowed me to instantly compare clinics on multiple levels. It listed everything from prices, clinic technology and equipment to each dentists individual profile and languages spoken, all completely transparent and accessible. I found a clinic in Prague, Czech Republic, and was immediately able to contact the dentist directly. It was reassuring to have all of my questions and concerned answered by the professional who would be performing the procedure. The platform also assisted in arranging flights, accommodation and transportation, all while acting as s personal advocate throughout the trip. Brilliant.
My Journey to Prague
Shortly after speaking with my dentist, I had a round trip ticket booked for Prague. Thanks to the CEREC® technology I would be flying out of London on a Tuesday, getting my scan (digital molds) and veneers the same day, and returning on Wednesday. I did not have to miss a single training or practice. When I arrived after my short two hour flight, I was greeted at the airport and taken to my hotel in the heart of Prague. In awe of the city’s beauty and culture I started to think I should have made this visit a proper holiday. When I arrived at the clinic my dentist, who I had spoken with prior to arriving, immediately greeted me as I walked in. It was modern, impeccably clean and everyone spoke fluent English. If I didn’t know, I’d have sworn I was back in the . In the next 90 minutes a digital scan was taken of my teeth, the CEREC® veneers prepared, and the veneers applied and fitted.
Throughout the procedure my dentist and the staff gave me their full attention and focus, which I know from my frequent trips to the hospital is not always a certainty. The price was also quite handsome. The cost of each individual veneer was only £380- £2,280 total. Including my airfare, and one nights stay in the centre of Prague, the entire journey cost approximately £2,500. Once again for those who don’t enjoy math– that is nearly a 50% savings of £2,45o.
The Final Score
When I arrived home it was amazing to see the reactions of my teammates, friends and family. The changes were subtle, but the compliments I received quickly confirmed I had made the right decision. No longer did I feel self-conscious introducing myself to someone or smiling at a pretty lady. My mum and dad are certain that grand-babies are in their near future due to my new smile. We’ll see about that.
As an athlete I understand the importance of setting expectations and following them through. Both the end-to-end online platform and my dentist and staff were stunning examples of professionalism and dedication to their work. Not once did I feel uncomfortable, mislead or that quality was being sacrificed. With each step I had the guidance, information and support I needed. As an athlete I also like to win, and without a doubt my cosmetic dentistry journey and new smile were a victory.