Q: Dr. Crapo: A year ago I had a front tooth taken out. Of course, I was distressed. The dentist reassured me that on the day the tooth was removed that he would put in a replacement. I went to the appointment with a good deal of apprehension. The tooth was removed and he inserted a tooth that was attached to pink plastic (like a denture). It did replace the missing tooth but I just can’t get used to it. At times the plastic piece that covers my palate makes me gag. I’ve been reading about implants and wonder if I should have done an implant. Another concern is that my front teeth have never been straight. Though cosmetics are not the first thing on my mind, I wonder why more wasn’t said about the appearance of my teeth when my tooth was pulled. Part of the problem might have been me, as I fussed over spending a lot of money on something I didn’t want. Because this has become an issue that is intolerable, I’ve thought about different solutions, but when I’ve asked I’ve been given a very quick answer and then the doctor leaves the room. I’m taken to the front desk and the lady says “can I make an appointment for you”? I don’t even know what the appointment would be about. Can you give me some ideas? Is it unreasonable for a doctor to take more than two minutes to help me know my options? I can’t go forward, I can’t go backward and I can’t stay the way I am.
A: I’m told that the average time a doctor spends listening to his patients before he starts talking is seventeen seconds. That’s either awfully perceptive of the profession or malignant impatience.
If your question deals with tooth replacement only, an implant would do a much better job than a flipper partial. If your question also includes straightening your front teeth, a bridge and crown may do the job. A third option would be straightening the teeth with crowns and placing an implant so that you’d have a very natural look.
The first thing for your dentist to do is get a good set of impressions to create molds for analysis of the possibilities. The best treatment is to straighten the teeth with crowns and place an implant. The implant will keep your bone in place whereas the bridge only covers the extraction space with a false tooth and several years from now, the bridge could develop a gap under that false tooth.
Start carefully – make the doctor answer all your questions and you should do fine.