Q: When I was a young girl I lived in another country where dentistry was not easy to get to and where there weren’t many dentists. Some people would take out teeth and make dentures or partials to fill in the teeth they took out. I was a teenager at the time that my teeth were pulled because I was getting some dark spots between my front teeth. I was told they had to go so that’s what happened. I know now they should have been fixed but there was no dentist so a neighbor who had a business of taking teeth and making partials did that for me.
Recently I saw a dentist here to talk about dental implants but not too much was given to me for information. I am missing the tooth behind my upper right eye tooth and three of my front teeth. I want to know if I can get implants so I don’t have to wear this partial. Food gets under it and makes my gums hurt so it is not good for me. I also think food gets caught and I can get a bad smell sometimes that makes me worried if I have bad breath. I am almost to retirement, my kids are grown and now it’s time for me to fix this problem. I just have no idea of what to do but I’ve read about dental implants and I know people who have them so I thought I need to find out.
A: Anterior or front teeth are extremely important for proper function of the entire mouth. It is therefore very important to have a thorough diagnosis that comes with excellent x-rays, analysis of your gum and bone structure around your existing teeth, analysis of your bite and the mechanics surrounding the teeth, muscles, joints and ligaments.
If all these indicate treatment and if you have good bone volume, good gum support and health then you will have two permanent or fixed tooth options. The most historical approach is to create bridgework that is fixed and immovable. The missing teeth are made like to look like natural teeth and they are linked seamlessly to your teeth by crowning your teeth on either side of the gap left when your teeth were extracted.
Implant supported teeth require a thickness of bone that will allow the dental implants to be completely surrounded and buried in your bone like the roots of your teeth. Implant attachments are made so that crowns can be permanently fixed to the implants.
If you have been without your front teeth for forty years and have had partials in place, you may not have enough bone for implants. However, good analysis will inform you how to proceed.