Dear Dr. Crapo: Nearly forty years ago my four lower front teeth were knocked out in an accident. At the time I had a very good dentist, who put in a bridge on my eyeteeth that were not injured in the accident. The bridge was put in permanently and has worked very well until recently. I noticed, about three months ago, that my bridge seemed to move. I saw a dentist and he confirmed that the teeth holding my bridge were loose. He said I’d lost about two thirds of the bone around my roots and there was active disease around the remaining bone. He said that the bone around the rest of my lower teeth (I have all my lower back teeth) was very good. He said I had several options. He didn’t think either of the eyeteeth was savable, so he said I could have a new bridge that attached to the teeth behind my eyeteeth, after the eyeteeth and old bridge was removed. He said I could have a partial denture to fill in the space once the bridge and eyeteeth were taken out. As a last measure he could send me to get implants, then about three or four months later I could have a new bridge made that would attach to the implants. I don’t want a partial. I have one for missing teeth on my upper and I’ve been thinking about getting rid of it. I don’t think I want a bigger bridge, although that might work. I was thinking about implants but I don’t know what will happen once the bridge is taken out. Will I have no teeth in the space?
Let me start with your last question. If you select a proper partial denture, you will not have teeth while healing is occurring. Depending on the technique it could take anywhere from two weeks to several months. If you select the bridge, you will have a temporary bridge which will give you teeth while healing is occurring. Once the gums are stable, new impressions will be made for the permanent bridge.
If you select implants and the dentist who places the implants also does bridgework, you will have teeth the same day. The nice thing is that your other teeth will not be touched as they would be in the other two procedures.