Q: Dr. Crapo: Last week I saw my dentist. I didn’t have any particular problem but when he checked me out, he flat out told me I was going to lose my back teeth. He said they would get loose and then infected and need to come out. He said there were some irreversible signs of disease around several of them and they should be pulled now. He said I’d need to get gum surgery on some of the others and then I’d need to see the hygienist every two or three months so that I could slow the deterioration process down. It hit me like a hammer! I’ve always been a healthy guy and my teeth have seemed pretty good. I’ve had some crowns and a bridge and some root canals but I sure didn’t expect this. He also said that some of my teeth were getting loose but didn’t tell me if there was any way of stopping the problem from progressing. Is there? Am I just destined to lose my teeth? I don’t like to be a person that has a lot of fuss in his life. I see problems and get them fixed. That’s what I’d like to do with my teeth – find a solution and get it done. What are your thoughts?
A: I saw a gentleman a few days ago that had similar issues. To him I said adults lose their teeth to gum and bone breakdown because of one of four factors, or a combination of them. First is genetics – “Mom and Dad lost their teeth early and so did the brothers and sisters”. Second – plaque buildup leading to tartar, which leads to infection of gums and bone around the teeth. Third – smoking and fourth – clenching and grinding of teeth. What I haven’t said in regards to these four conditions is their relationship to the dynamics of the mouth.
When we chew our food, or unknowingly clench or grind our teeth, and these elements are present (bad genetics, plaque/tartar, smoking, clenching/grinding), there is greater stress on our teeth. To add insult to injury, when our teeth, jaws, joints and muscles aren’t working in harmony, the disharmony creates additional forces which accelerate the disease process.
In situations like yours, almost always (when plaque control is good and smoking eliminated), by correcting the dynamics of the teeth, joints and muscles, we resolve most of the problems that you’re experiencing.
By properly balancing and aligning your teeth, the disease decelerates. In fact, I’m certain that your teeth will tighten up. Is there a fix? Yes - someone who not only examines comprehensively, but who treats comprehensively, should be able to give you that assurance.