Dental “Sins” and Their Consequences
Q: Last week I had to see the dentist. Had to because that’s when I go and it still seems too often. Ok I’m hard on my teeth. I’m well into my sixties and I’ve been a bad brusher/flosser.
I grind my teeth and I’ve smoked all my life. I guess my phobia for the profession is that all my “sins” are exposed every time I have to go in. I haven’t made teeth a priority but now I have to. My only chewing is on broken teeth.
I know it sounds gross, but I just didn’t want to put my teeth before a lot of other “more important” things and that’s what got me to this “crippled state”. I’ve got ten upper teeth, four of them are bad and one sticks out so far it doesn’t work when I’m chewing.
The bottom is better and I was told if the right thing was done up top the bottom could wait.
The thought of getting my teeth out and having a denture – well I’m just not there yet, so what do I do? I’ve never wanted to spend money for things that are just going to go bad again. I mean I’ve had fillings on top of fillings and root canals too. Also, the hygienists and dentists that I’ve seen said I’ve lost a lot of bone. I was told it was my smoking but I don’t know. No problem, I quit two years ago. So what about it? I’ve only got five good teeth left.
A: Decay, smoking, grinding and neglect have brought you to this point so you know that whatever is done, a big habit change is in order to have a healthy set of teeth. With five “good” teeth remaining it is difficult to use them as bridge teeth to support all the teeth needed for good chewing function. In days gone by you would have been told your only option was a denture because a partial denture would put two much pressure on the remaining five teeth.
With advances in technology of implants and bone grafting it is possible to use the sockets of the remaining teeth, for implants and bone grafting in such a way as to increase the height and width of bone around the implants. In many cases eight or ten implants can be placed, bone added and teeth placed on the same day or within a few days that resemble your own teeth. Implants don’t decay but neglect will ultimately produce disease in the gum and bone around them as it has with your natural teeth.
This is a big step – so, go all the way, make your hygienist your friend and take good care of yourself after your new bite is in place.