Q: About four months ago I felt some pain biting into an apple. Then when I had something cold to drink my front teeth hurt. I wondered if I had some decay so I went to see a dentist. He told me that I was losing the enamel off the inside of my front teeth. He said I needed some fillings to fill in the lost enamel. Then came COVID and I was anxious to get something done so I called back but found that I just wasn’t an emergency so I waited.
Now, two months later a second office looked and told me fillings would not work because I was not only wearing my teeth but I was also pushing my front teeth so hard that they were getting dangerously loose. The problem is that I can only make contact with my back teeth when I bite firmly. When I bite firmly the dentist showed me how my front teeth actually move. That scared me because it felt like my teeth were going to come out. I don’t understand why I didn’t notice that myself. No one has ever told me. The dentist also asked what acidic foods I was eating. After some thought I said, I drink a lot of water with lots of lemon juice every day.
Why I asked? He said there was more than clenching and grinding going on. There was erosion that was eating away the enamel and damaging my teeth even more quickly. I asked if I was going to lose my teeth to which he said let’s get more x-rays and other records first. I’m very much afraid I’m going to lose my teeth. Can they be saved?
A: It depends on the extent of the mobility, the amount of bone left around each tooth, the health of the gums around your teeth, your clenching and grinding and finally the strength of the acids passing over your teeth and how long those acids are held in place. Once these items are assessed then we will know how to bring them all into balance. In some cases teeth are not savable and implants and bridges are the only answer. In other cases, the forces can be brought into balance in such a way that the teeth begin to firm up because they are not taking pressure beyond their biologic limits. If there remains a good amount of bone around each tooth then usually a balance can be created so that the teeth will firm up. It will take some time for accurate assessment. Be patient, ask questions and stay involved and you’ll get a good result.