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Dental implants

Q: Dr. Crapo: Many years ago (thirty-five plus), I had extensive bridgework. I lost my right eye teeth and the one beside it towards the front. Over the years it has held up well but I’m hard on my teeth. I’ve broken off porcelain from my eyetooth, which I guess is a fake tooth. The bridge is still hanging in there but I had to have the piece of porcelain bonded back on. I know it’s just a matter of time till something bad happens – so I went to a dentist to ask him about dental implants for those two lost teeth. He said I didn’t have enough bone for that, so I’d have to get a new bridge. He said the bridge might have to be a bit longer or larger, I can’t remember which, because the teeth the bridge is fixed to won’t give me the same life as this one did. He said I was losing some bone support around the anchor teeth, so more teeth had to be included so the bridge would last.

About fifteen years ago I had lower implants on both sides and they’ve been great. I’d sure like to have implants if there’s any way – it seems like they’re so strong. The bottom crowns that were made for my lower implants make eating such a breeze and I never have any sensitivity – way better than my own teeth. I’d sure like it if dental implants were possible.

A: Imaging technology allows us to see and determine the possibilities of a situation like yours. As you may know, implants must have good bone in all three dimensions – length for adequate strength to support a crown – (in natural teeth the root makes up approximately two-thirds to three-quarters of the entire length of the tooth and is anchored in jaw bone) - width of bone to approximate the titanium root (implant) to a similar position of the missing teeth and in proper relationship to your existing natural teeth beside them - finally thickness of bone for bulk and dimension to accept, house and surround the root-like cylinder screw which is what the implant is.

If you have enough length and width but not enough thickness, which can be remedied with a piece of bone that is taken from your jaw and relocated into the spot where the thickness is needed. This type of bone graft takes about four months to heal and fuse to your existing bone that once housed those lost teeth, then at four months dental implants can be placed and three months later, crowns can be made. During the surgeries a temporary bridge is fabricated so that the space is not unsightly. Though this is more involved it is a common practice and produces excellent functional results.

You can always count on Dr. C Ross Crapo & Associates in protecting your oral health. We specialize in family dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, implant dentistry and restorative dentistry.

If we can help, we’d like to. Call 778-410-2080 for a consultation or visit us today.

Based on actual patient cases

 Calvin Ross Crapo

A patient smiles while being treated in a dental clinic.

Q: I’m in a state. My life has had all kinds of ups and downs. It seems that I go from emergency to emergency, putting out fires. It’s a drag, physically and emotionally. The latest is my teeth. They are a mess. Decayed and broken down. I have about three left standing, and the rest are decayed to the gum. I’d like to have something to smile with, and I’m afraid of dentures because I saw my mother and grandmother with their teeth out, and it grossed me out. But then, I don’t smile for fear of grossing everyone around me out. So I have seen some dentists, and most have said the same thing – there’s nothing to save. It’s really discouraging because what is next is dentures. I’ve read about implants, and I like that idea, but they’re expensive, and I need them for both top and bottom teeth. 

I reached out to a dentist and he said I could go with an upper denture for a period of time and put implants and a bridge on the lower. He said the lower denture is very hard to get used to and I’d really be compromised in chewing. He also said he’d have to graft bone in the sockets of the upper teeth because it would keep the right amount of bone in place for future implants. 

The thing is that I can’t smile, and I need my upper teeth to smile. Since I can’t do both with implants and a lower denture is terrible, I just can’t make up my mind. Any advice? My lower is worse than my upper. I’ve got a partial that’s barely hanging on. 


A: Your situation is not uncommon, so let’s talk about specifics. First of all, function – the ability to just chew your food. Loss of lower teeth replaced by a lower denture reduces chewing forces and efficiency to less than 25% of your own teeth. Replacing the denture and unsavable teeth with an implant supported bridge gives you all the support of normal, healthy teeth. The teeth are fixed to the implants, so your confidence and smile is natural looking and feeling. The upper denture uses your palate for suction and is far more stable than a lower denture.

There are compromises to force and taste, but it’s a much better intermediate step. If you go this route, you will be happier functionally and still get to smile. Yes, the root sockets that are left after the teeth come out are grafted with a mixture of human and bovine bone. This prevents bone resorption (dissolving) during the time you have your upper denture. On your schedule, implants can be placed.  

The placement of implants and construction of lower bridgework on those implants, in your case, on the day of extraction, is extremely successful, cuts healing time, decreases pain and anxiety, and best of all it provides natural tooth function and strength. 

If we can help, we’d like to. Call 778-410-2080 for a consultation or visit us today.


Based on actual patient cases

© Calvin Ross Crapo

Victoria Implant Centre 778-410-2080

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