Dear Dr. Crapo: Two weeks ago I was eating a soft roll when I noticed something hard in my mouth. I thought what could have been put in that roll? I spit it out and found something that looked like a tooth and thought - gross! Then I thought is that mine? Fishing around with my tongue I found the problem and was both relieved and consternated at the same time. I looked in the mirror and found I’d broken a lower left tooth off at the gumline – well almost. I called the dentist to get it looked at. In the meantime, I found it greatly changed the way I could eat. I have to eat on the other side. My dentist said the broken tooth had a lot of filling material in it, as did others around it. In fact, he said I had many fillings in each of my teeth. I asked him if I should have an implant. He said it was a possibility but then when he did x-rays and checked in my mouth, he found some other things that are even a greater concern. On my right side, I’ve got a tooth that I’m going to lose to decay, so if I lose that I don’t know how I’m going to chew properly. If I get an implant on the left side I won’t have a tooth for four or five months. He also showed me that I have what he called the largest bone growths in my lower jaw, right next to the broken tooth, he’d ever seen. He said it would be hard to get the tooth out because the bone growths make the bone all around the root of the broken tooth very hard. He said I’d need to see the oral surgeon to get the root out before an implant could be put in. Can the oral surgeon put in the implant when he takes out the root? It feels like things are getting complicated. What to do? I don’t have tons of money, so that’s a concern too.
Your situation poses challenges indeed – rampant decay, tooth breakage, teeth weakened with multiple fillings, chewing problems and large tori (the large boney growths).
If the broken tooth shows above the gums it may well be possible to restore it with a root canal followed by a foundational build-up for a crown. In your case, it would be advisable to crown the tooth next to it and fuse the crowns together for strength (splinted or fused crowns will better resist the forces of your strong bite). This will give you back your function “instantly”. With the left side fixed, the right side could be handled with a bridge or an implant. You will have function on the left side while healing is occurring on the right.
If we can help, we’d like to. Call 778-410-2080 for a consultation.