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A Silent Abscess?

Dr. Crapo

Q: Dr. Crapo: I have had a very good and long life. My health is a great gift and when my age comes up it becomes a talking point. I’m 95. Life is great but I do have some dental needs. Over the years, I’ve had bridges and implants and crowns. All was going good until I felt some movement on my upper left bridge. I saw a dentist and he told me that the front anchor tooth of the bridge had broken right in half. He said it was a complicated issue because one of the other anchor teeth holding the bridge had lost a lot of bone and had an abscess – can that happen, I don’t feel a thing. Anyway, he said there wasn’t enough bone around the roots of that abscessed tooth, so it would make for an even more complicated issue. He told me I have only two good teeth on that side, the very back tooth, I think he said it was my twelve-year molar and then a front side tooth next to my very front teeth, which is an implant. So, if I lose the bad teeth in the bridge, I’ll have a tooth way back and then a front side tooth - I’ll have a huge gap when I smile. I can’t manage with no back teeth. What can be done? I thought of implants but he wasn’t sure if I had enough bone. The broken tooth on the front of the bridge is my eyetooth if that helps. My two upper front teeth need

new crowns as well, so what am I to do?

A: To answer your question about abscesses – yes, a person can have what is called a silent abscess. A tooth can die without one being aware or it being painful. Regularly, we see “silent abscesses” when we take x-rays.

Another piece of information that will help in your situation is this – if you have an existing tooth – even if it has broken, you will be able to use that spot once it’s removed, for an implant. Often an implant can be placed the same day the tooth and its root is removed. If there are bone issues, that socket can be grafted and six months later, sometimes earlier, an implant can be placed there.

If your back tooth is in good shape a bridge could be extended from the back tooth to the new implant (in the eyetooth area) and the existing implant. That would give you two front implant anchors and a strong molar tooth to anchor your bridge.

During the healing time your two front teeth and the implant tooth can act as front anchors to the temporary bridge. In the final stage when the new bridge is made, the two front teeth would get permanent crowns, separate from the new


If we can help, we’d like to. Call 778-410-2080 for a consultation.


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