Q: Dr. Crapo: I’m in a panic! My daughter announced she is getting married in two months. The problem is my teeth. We haven’t seen each other for a number of years other than Skype, and now I’ve got wedding pictures! I’ve only had basic dental care and I’m afraid she’ll be upset that her mother doesn’t look like she remembers. I have no natural upper front teeth, just an unattractive partial that I hate. I have four upper right back teeth and three on the upper left. I have no molars on the bottom but the front and side teeth are strong.
However, they seem to have grown spaces that are unsightly. My gums are receding as well. I’ve seen several dentists, but they say I’ll have to get a denture or implants quickly if I’m going to look the way I want to look for the wedding. The problem is that I don’t want to lose my teeth if I can help it and I don’t like the pink plastic of dentures. I know my daughter will spot them right away. We share everything and I feel guilty for not including her in my dental problems but I was too embarrassed to talk to her about this. Can anything be done? Finally, I’m showing my lower teeth with their ugly spaces and I’m not showing my upper teeth at all when I smile. I want the spaces closed and my upper teeth to show.
A: It is quite late to solve these problems if you’re looking for a final fix, especially if surgical corrections are necessary. For your lower teeth, there are two ways that would give you a permanent fix. The first is “teeth-in-a-day”. This is a good solution only if your lower teeth are unhealthy or mobile (lose). The transformation is immediate from both a functional and an appearance point of view. If your teeth are solid and you have good bone in the molar area, don’t take this option. A beautiful job can be with crowns and implants, but you’d need the care of someone who does major reconstructive work and can schedule you and a lab in the next week to ten days – that may be a big order.
For the top, if you have the bone, “teeth-in-a-day” is possible but if you don’t and there’s a very large span of missing teeth in the front, you may have to have a transitional/temporary partial that is made so it won’t show the pink plastic or the silver hooks that are sometimes visible. A well-made partial can serve your esthetic purposes; then more permanent work can be done when the wedding festivities are but a memory. These things can be done on a priority basis, but time is of the essence – act now.