Q:Dear Dr. Crapo: I’m nearing sixty. As far as I can remember I’ve had trouble with my teeth -and not just run of the mill cavities, root canals and crowns but weird shapes of roots and teeth that had bad makeup so when root canals and crowns were attempted, they failed. Fifteen years ago I had implants for crowns on my lower back teeth on both sides.
They’ve been the best thing that’s happened to me. I’ve had bridges on the top because root canals failed, because of my weird teeth I’ve had to have the bridges to fill in the gaps. Two weeks ago, one of my upper bridges just fell out. I saw my dentist immediately and when he asked about my medical condition I had to tell him that in the past year I’ve discovered with some great sleuthing by several specialists, that I’ve developed a condition that is really untreatable. They can help me with symptoms – well kind of. I’m on high doses of prednisone, so when I told my dentist he said it’d be a time before any more implants could be placed.
He said if I stabilized on the medication to a very low dose for a period of six months then the predictability of implants taking would be much better. I know prednisone makes healing so much slower and I’m in a period where they’ve got to get my disease under control but in the meantime I need a bridge that’s going to stay. My dentist said there was lots of decay and he really helped me out.
I had to have a root canal and one tooth was quite unsaveable, so he did something so I didn’t have to have it extracted but in the future he said I need an implant there. He said this would cost a lot of money because I’d need a bridge and then because the teeth weren’t good enough for it to last, I’d need implants and a new bridge in a year or so when my body was ready. I could end up with a thirty thousand dollar bill. Can something be done to help this be less?
A: It sounds like you are in good hands. As your dentist and other medical specialists follow you and treat your condition, they will be able to know when it’s time for implant surgery. Until that time maybe your dentist would be willing to keep your costs down by making you a temporary bridge that he can fabricate himself. If your teeth are good enough for a year or two, that will prevent a laboratory expense in making a permanent bridge.
Then when your body is ready, implants can be placed and new teeth made that will give you the kind of service you’ve grown accustomed to in your lower jaw.