Q: I’ve retired after an enjoyable few careers. I have largely spent my time on business and family. At this time, I see that this time invested has paid off as I have a good life. One thing I neglected is me. It’s my fault because these other areas have been foremost.
I now find myself with a mouthful of bad teeth. I’ve had them filled when they needed it but I’ve also lost all my molars. I’ve been told it’s a combination of my grinding and decay. I now have no back teeth with which to chew my food, so it’s left to my front teeth to do the work. That has caused my teeth to wear down. Now when I smile my teeth don’t show. I also have a bad underbite, so much so that the dentist asked how I was chewing my food. I love to eat, so I just get the job done!
At this point in my life I’d like teeth with which I can easily chew my food. I’d like to smile and show that I have nice teeth. I’d like to socialize, go out and eat with my friends and stop thinking about my teeth. My teeth are in such bad shape they look like stubs, they’re a multicolored mess. I was thinking I should have them out and get implants, get some new back teeth put in and enjoy the rest of my life. I don’t know if this is the way to go, I’ve just been thinking this way.
A: First let me say that if your teeth have a good root system and you’ve got good bone where your molar teeth once were, you may be able to crown your existing teeth and have implants placed for new molar teeth. This will not correct your underbite (lower teeth in front of upper teeth) and it may not give you the tooth display you want but it will establish function – your ability to easily chew all the foods you enjoy.
In reconstructing your bite (i.e. correcting your underbite), you have basically two choices – jaw surgery to move the lower jaw back, along with braces to put the teeth in the right place for this jaw relocation and then crowns for the teeth or implants that can be fitted with bridges that will correct your underbite. This of course means removing your existing teeth.
Removing badly compromised teeth and fitting your mouth with well designed bridges can give you the display of “nice teeth” you want when you smile and speak. This will also permit good chewing function. In my experience, it’s a real mood changer as well as a confidence builder.