Q: What do hot water heaters and teeth have in common? They blow up when you least expect them to – on a weekend when plumbers and dentists are hard to reach – at least that’s my experience. I admit I’m not the best at keeping my teeth clean, but it seems I can’t even see the word “sugar” without getting a hole in my tooth or a crown coming off or an abscess rearing its ugly head. Eighteen months ago, I had six lower teeth left. Two molars, 1 eye tooth and three others. The lower right molar needed a root canal so that was done, the lower left had a crown on it but the tooth was a bit loose. The other teeth just had fillings. Since then, I’ve lost two teeth (several months ago) and then yesterday the top broke off the root canalled molar and the other molar just came out root, crown and all – the whole darn thing! My partial has small pokey clasps sticking into my tongue, now that the teeth are gone and I can’t keep the partial in because there are no teeth left to hang on to. My partial is eighteen months old. How can that happen?! So, I went in right away to another dentist and he said I needed implants and bridge work. That sounds like a major overhaul. What about dentures? I went for the partial denture because I’ve seen how much family members with lower dentures hate them. I didn’t think this would happen to me. What should I do? I work in a medical office and I’m meeting people all day long.
A: If you are down to three teeth and one is broken you have a major challenge - and a tooth, a molar in your case just falls out – that is particularly challenging because it means all the bone that once held that tooth in is gone!
Because you started with six teeth and now have three, it’s not just a matter of tooth loss, it’s a matter of bone loss. At best a lower denture can be marginally stable – meaning it stays in place while you eat or talk- and that’s if you have a good amount of bone for it to ride on. When you lose bone to disease the very ridge needed for a denture is compromised if not lost.
Stabilizing a denture is now straightforward to those who provide these services. In your situation, it might well be your best option to have implants placed and teeth placed at the same time. Decay will no longer be an issue. Loose dentures, which speed up bone loss will never be a nagging problem. This implant procedure speeds healing, decreases pain during recovery and makes speaking and eating an easy transition.