Dear Dr. Crapo: My mother’s teeth are falling apart. She has an upper partial denture that’s hanging to her last upper tooth. The problem is that this tooth is turning black. The dentist said that the tooth was rotted half way through. She said she’s ready to do anything it takes to get things fixed. The dentist said she didn’t have much ridge left and her palate has a boney growth that might make wearing a denture a problem. He referred her to a dentist that does implants because he was afraid she’d be unhappy with a denture. He said the boney mass in the roof of her mouth would decrease the denture’s suction but said that the boney mass could be removed. My mother is afraid of surgery in her mouth. The next dentist said that there was just enough bone to put in three implants but they couldn’t be aligned for a good fit. He suggested bone grafting and was very thorough about all the details concerning building up the bone. He then told us that the cost could easily reach twenty-five to thirty thousand dollars to graft the bone, put in the implants and then make the teeth. I just about died – I had no idea. My mother has no money to speak of, what can we do?
It sounds as if you’ve had a thorough examination but the best options may be unaffordable. A complete denture could be made if the tori (boney mass) is not too large. This will have to be carefully evaluated because the smaller the tori, the better the retention (suction).
Go slowly. At one point your mother may have to get used to the idea of surgery. First of all, it’s surgery to remove the diseased tooth. When this happens be sure to have the extraction site grafted. Preserve any and all bone possible. Have the denture made – this is the least expensive alternative. Let mom know that she’ll have a bit of a challenge getting used to her palate being covered but this is what gives the upper denture suction and retention. Let her know that the tori can be removed, so that if the denture is not stable enough, it can be made more stable once the boney mass is gone.
Try to work out payments with your bank. If you’re a long time patient, your dentist may provide some kind of a payment plan.
The sooner you act the better – it won’t be long before abscessing will occur on the badly decayed tooth. Your mother will be in pain and may lose more bone.
If we can help, we’d like to. Call 778-410-2080 for a consultation.