Q: Dear Dr. Crapo: Over the past ten years I’ve faced a number of health and personal challenges. At times it’s been very hard to juggle the priorities when several issues demand extra time, effort and care.
My overall health is now under control but my dental health has suffered terribly. I have seen several dentists who have given me treatment outlines that range from a number of root canals and crowns to extractions and full dentures.
All of them agreed that I’ve got bad decay and gum disease. The complicating factor is my diabetes. I’m on medication and it’s under control. I test my blood sugars daily. They range between five and six and never vary.
My doctor is pleased and has told me I’m a good risk for dental surgery. I would add that my stress levels have come down too and I feel that’s important in this whole business.
My problem is that I don’t know what’s best for the long run. I’ve got enough teeth, that despite having to lose several, I could have crowns and bridges to get back the function and appearance I need. One dentist talked about implants in the spaces instead of bridges, so that was even more confusing.
The last element is time. I’ve been told this will take a very long time – a year or more to get everything done. I just don’t know if I can go through one more long drawn out experience. To me I’ve got bad teeth. My front teeth are broken so badly they’re scary. I just don’t want to spend time and money on them only to have decay or gum disease start again. Both top and bottom teeth are bad. I don’t want dentures, so where do we go from here?
A: The dental profession is educated and trained to save teeth. No other branch of medicine has spoken for so long about prevention. Perhaps it’s because no other disease is as widespread as dental caries (decay) and periodontal (gum and bone) infection.
When someone like yourself suffers from the irreversible consequences of dental decay and gum disease it is easy to be overwhelmed by various treatment plans. With the technology we have at our disposal so many different treatment options are available to you that it can be confusing.
My advice is to look at your health, your interest, your time and your finances. Your dental history suggests your dentition needs reconstructing. That means all your teeth, all of their gum and bone support needs attention. Historically crowns, bridges, root canals and gum and bone surgery provided the best care. The process often took time, patience and many visits. The results, done well, have provided great function and beauty.
Today implants allow a new kind of reconstruction - in one appointment – beautiful teeth fixed in your mouth allowing you full expression.