Q: Dr. Crapo: About ten years ago I gave up on my teeth. They were crooked and full of fillings and every time I went to the dentist he’d say, you’ve got three new decay spots or five. It seemed like no matter what I tried, nothing worked.
So finally, I said “to heck with this pull’em and give me dentures”. I thought I won’t have to go back and hear that I’d failed again. I also thought, finally I’ll have some nice teeth. So, I went through with it and had my teeth out and dentures put in. I had a terrible time adjusting, in fact I never did. At first, I had to get used to the fitting and I must say during this time I’d gag every time I put them in.
I could get one in but not both at the same time without feeling like I was about to lose breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was awful! My dentist tried to make the dentures as small as possible and still have them stay in but to no avail. So, for five years I’ve gone without teeth. I’ve managed but despite trying to think it’s just my cross to bear,
I really know I sound toothless, I look toothless and my diet has to be cooked and soft. I’ve read about implants, would they help? I’ve been told I’ve got enough bone for the bottom implants but not enough for the top. I can’t see getting teeth on the bottom with no teeth on the top to work against. What can be done?
A: Individuals who have severe gag reflexes demonstrate several areas in the mouth that produce over reaction to foreign body stimulation. At times flossing and tooth brushing will cause gagging. Classically roof of the mouth and back of the tongue are the culprits for gagging but I have patients that are so volatilely prone to gagging that I can’t even put the mouth mirror past their lips without them retching.
Interesting enough food and its chewing and swallowing does not cause gagging. When I have placed bridge work in these individuals (they’ve been sedated during these procedures) it has been readily accepted (i.e. no post-op gagging).
In your case bridgework could be fitted to your lower jaw with implants. At the same time sinus grafting will produce more than adequate bone for future implants and bridgework to be placed in your upper jaw. All of this work can be done with intravenous sedation – a gentle procedure, not a general anesthetic, that eliminates an awareness of the procedures. If you’re not able to wear an upper denture while the graft is healing, know that it is only time before the bridgework will be placed and your chewing and smiling return.