Q: Dear Dr. Crapo: I’m a cook. I’ve cooked all my life but in the restaurant cooking business, for over twenty years. I grew up in Europe where dentistry was not discussed, at least not in my small town. My parents didn’t talk about it and my brothers and sisters had the same experience. I married and came to Canada. My wife insisted at my first toothache, I see a dentist. I did and had to have many teeth, or what remained, pulled out. I’ve got all my front teeth top and bottom. I have no back teeth on my lower left side. I have one molar, with spaces in front of them in the other areas of my mouth.
I was told I need to get implants because my teeth are starting to move and I need teeth to fill in the spaces. I was also told that I could have permanent bridges and that would fill in the spaces almost like natural teeth – I can brush and floss them and they stay in like my own teeth. This is all new, so I’m wondering what’s best.
My wife and her family have always gone to see the dentist and they don’t have problems, so I’m sure my wife will make me aware of what’s necessary. One thing I know is that I have no decay except one tooth that might need a root canal. I was told that if I choose bridges, this tooth will work after it has been taken care of. I just need to know what’s best.
A: If finances are not a major factor and you have good bone amounts in all those areas you’ve described, implants are by far the best solution. I say this emphatically because decay is more prevalent in cooks who cook to taste, than most other adults. It is comparable to those who have a very sedentary life style that involves high computer or electronic games use, all the while eating and drinking throughout the day.
Having said that, bridgework in the areas you’ve mentioned can be a very good approach if you commit to dental maintenance several times a day. After your bridges are placed, fluoride trays can be fabricated to help render your teeth less susceptible to decay. This along with more frequent visits to the hygienist and dentist, will produce good results.
Bridgework can last decades but it doesn’t happen by accident. Good dental work, followed by good dental homecare and in your case good dental maintenance at work, may well allow you to not only keep your remaining teeth, but give you good function. As far as the area where the back teeth are gone, implants will serve you very well.