Recently I’ve had decay in several spots, and it seems that every time I go to the dentist, he finds more decay. I’m facing crowns now and as I look at the expense it makes me sick.
I don’t want to lose my teeth but I’m afraid of spending tons of money only to have decay start again. I’m afraid of putting something foreign in my mouth like implants, even though that would stop decay.
Have you got any suggestions?
A: You’re describing a dental catch-22 situation: a situation that prevents action, with serious and painful ramifications. When I’m confronted with such a crisis it’s because I don’t have enough information to make a decision that I can comfortably live with.
In your case you really want to keep your own teeth but spending thousands of dollars on crowns may not do the job long term. If that’s the case, then throwing good money after bad is terribly frustrating. Crowns done well are easier to clean than your own teeth but, if you’ve got dry mouth due to prescription medications, preventing decay will be very difficult.
This past month I’ve seen three individuals that have problems similar to yours with one added feature: each of them has lost a great deal of bone width in their lower jaws due to poorly fitting partial dentures. If you must continue with a partial denture after your new crowns are placed, ask your dentist if you have good bone to support it and ask him to show you on an x-ray.
If there is not enough, then you need more information about implants. One of the individuals mentioned above had advanced decay, no posterior teeth, and severe bone loss created by pressure from an ill-fitting partial. She chose implants. When her new teeth are placed, all her chewing forces will be supported by her implants.
Incidentally this delightful lady is your age.
Yesterday as I visited with a gentleman, he discussed his catch-22 challenge in a different way. “I’m in my mid-sixties,” he said, “if I live but a few more years, I’ve got a lot of spending to do. If I live to one hundred I’ve got to be careful with my money.”
My counsel to you is to get all the information you can, then spend your money wisely. Without a doubt my happiest patients are the ones that have put their money on themselves and now have a strong, balanced, comfortable bite on teeth supported with implants. Each one is thrilled with their choice of teeth that will last the rest of their lives.