Q: Dr.Crapo: I’m well into my 70’s and have been subjected to the English national dental system all my life. I have only six teeth left on my lower and they’re in bad shape. The dentist here says I’ve got a failing root canal in my lower right eyetooth, so I’ve got to do something with it.
Before I left to come to Canada for a year-long stint, my dentist in England secured a crown on my upper right by gluing it to the eyetooth just in front of it.
Now I’ve got pain in the eyetooth and the dentist here says that the way the tooth was secured to the eyetooth made it impossible to clean, so now I’ve got decay right to the nerve and it will need a root canal.
On top of that, the tooth that was secured is so bad that it needs to come out. Up top then, I’ve got 2 molars and six front teeth, 2 of which need root canals and this crown that must be removed.
I saw a dentist who was recommended and though he hasn’t shown me all the details, he says that I need implants to replace my lower teeth with a bridge.
We don’t have access to things like that back home but is this a good thing and what would you recommend? I haven’t had back teeth on the lower for…I’m afraid to say decades. If I have this work done, will it hold up? If I go back to my dentist in England later this year, will she know how to help me take care of it? I’m falling apart and need good advice.
A: Implants have truly come of age. They are performing in most instances, beyond the expectation the profession had for them 25 years ago. Compared to hip replacements (though they’re getting better) that used to last 12-15 years, dental implants are showing themselves to remain solidly in place beyond 3 decades and look as if they’ll outlast the recipients. If your lower teeth are in bad shape, a lower bridge fastened to 4 or 5 implants will give you great function all the way back to your first molars. You’ll have back teeth with which to chew again so eating and digesting your food will happen as it should.
If you have molars in your upper jaw that are in a good state of repair, you might get a nice result by placing implants just behind your eyeteeth and extending bridge work and crowns to restore your upper teeth.
I am sure that finding someone who can help you take care of yourself so your teeth last as long as you need them, is possible.
If you’re going to act, do so soon, as it takes time for implants to integrate before crowns or bridges can be attached.