Q: Dr. Crapo: This past year has been a challenge health and dental wise. I’ve been given a fair to good diagnosis as far as my health issues are concerned and I’m taking medications daily. Lately my teeth are also giving me grief. Years ago, I had a very big bridge put in on my lower right side. The anchor teeth are the wisdom tooth, the twelve-year molar in the back and my eye tooth and the one in front of it, on the front part of the bridge. A month ago, I saw a dental specialist and it was discovered one of the back-anchor teeth had to go, so the roots were cut off and a bone graft put in. The dentist said I’d have to have the whole bridge out, the wisdom tooth (my last back anchor) taken out, a bone graft put in and then an implant bridge put in months from now. I was upset at the prospects of no teeth there, so I saw another dentist for a second opinion. The second dentist looked at my health, the medications and my bridge and said I should wait for my health to stabilize if it’s going to, before any more invasive dentistry. He found the bridge loose on the wisdom tooth anchor but said the tooth looked good. I have a partial on top and one of the anchor teeth has an abscess. The first dentist said it should come out. If that happens I’ll just end up with a full upper denture.
What would you do with this mess?
A: Serious health issues trump dentistry unless the dental disease or condition significantly impacts your health. Let the bone graft heal. That will tell you a lot about your body’s ability to undergo more surgery.
Have someone with experience carefully remove your bridge without damaging it. Once the bridge is off, the anchor teeth should be inspected and repaired if needed. If the tooth is sound, it will be worth saving. If the bridge is damaged beyond reusability, a temporary bridge can replace it until your health issues are sorted out. If and when implants are placed for an implant bridge, you’ll be very happy to have your bridge or temporary bridge in place to allow you to chew your food and give you facial support.
If your upper abscessed anchor tooth has good bone support, root canal it, that’ll save you from more surgery and an upper denture.
These processes are the most conservative and least traumatic for your body. Proceeding slowly, in an organized manner, will ensure that your dental problems don’t impact your health issues and allow you peace of mind while your doctor and your body work to solve your health issues.