Don’t Pay With Bone
Q: I came to this country fifteen years ago. It has not been easy but my family and I are doing better. During this time, many sacrifices have been made; our teeth have suffered because we couldn’t afford to go to the dentist. When a tooth hurt and it wouldn’t stop, we just have it pulled. Sometimes the pain would stop so we were happy but then after a few months – CRACK and a piece would break off. Sometimes the whole tooth would break off while eating. This happened many times to me. Now, I have holes in the front of my mouth. People notice and some say you should get that fixed. I know I must do something so I went to see the dentist. I asked about implants but I need many and they are too expensive for me. It was explained to me about bridges that cannot come out but they were too expensive as well. My teeth are not good enough to hold a partial denture. So, I said I don’t want a denture but if it gives me teeth then I must do it. The dentist said I would lose a lot of bone when my teeth were pulled but I said my mother had dentures for most of her life so this will have to be my life also. He said I should think about saving some teeth that were still good. He said he could do root canals on them and then trim them to fit under the denture. He said that would stop the bone from going away. When I found out how much that would cost, I just was afraid it was too much money. So, what do I do?
A: In today’s world, dentures are still a fact of life. Technology is wonderful but it is expensive to benefit from or purchase the latest in life-improving advantages. Your dentist is right; bone loss after tooth extraction is a reality for all who lose teeth. Some lose great amounts of bone in just a few years, once the bone is gone, dentures become loose and ill-fitting. This is especially true for the bone at the front of the mouth in the upper jaw when one has natural lower teeth hitting against the denture teeth. If possible, save your upper eye teeth with root canals. These teeth, when trimmed to fit under a denture, act as rigid stumps to take the heavy pressure of biting and that saves the bones. Also, roots left inside the bone encourages bone to stay put. The last and maybe most important is that eyeteeth have very large and long roots. They may also be tightly fused to their sockets so that when they come out, they take surrounding bone with them. Eye teeth and their surrounding bone provide lip and mouth support. Keep them if you can.
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Based on actual patient cases
Calvin Ross Crapo