Q: Dr. Crapo: In the past ten years I have had health issues that are not pleasant. I’ve received very good care and in the last six months have received the great news that my heart condition is now stable, the surgery has been successful, and I can resume a normal life. During these past years of miserable living, I have let my teeth go. My front upper teeth are so bad I can’t even look at myself in the mirror. I ventured into a dental clinic and after a quick look the dentist said they’d have to come out, which I expected, but he said my upper back teeth seemed okay. I only have six lower front teeth so I’m in a pickle – where I’ve got teeth on the bottom, I have no teeth that work on the top and where I’ve got teeth on the top that are still good, I’ve got nothing for them to work against on the bottom. The problem is I feel better, health wise that is, than I’ve felt in ten years and I want some strong beautiful teeth and I want them as soon as possible. I don’t want dentures; I want something that’s part of me, just like my own teeth should be. I’ve read about implants. Can I have teeth in one day as the ads say?
A: If you have six upper front teeth (from one eye tooth to the next) that are badly broken but not abscessed, you may have the necessary bone to place implants on the day your natural teeth are removed. If that is the case, the implants can receive plastic temporary crowns immediately, if these temporaries can be protected from taking too much chewing and grinding force.
If the bone is not ideal, or if there are abscesses, a grafting procedure would be done first – then a six-month healing period before implant placement, to ensure implant success. Individual implants for every crown make for a very natural look and cleaning them is as easy as your own teeth. If fewer implants are placed, a bridge can be made that is esthetically pleasing and this lowers the cost while maintaining strength and function.
Sometimes, again if the bone allows it, implants placed on the day of extraction can support a temporary bridge – this is termed “teeth-in-a-day”. It is also very esthetic and secure. The home care of this option is different than the option above and may require a bit more dexterity. Speak to someone who can offer all three options. You’ll know your mind more clearly on this topic once that discussion has taken place.