Go Slowly and Carefully but Get It Done
Q: Three months ago, I had an accident at work. A pipe broke loose and hit me in the face. The blow was right on my front teeth and I heard them snap as I felt the hit. There were tooth fragments instantly in my mouth and my lips were split so instant blood. Fortunately, it broke off the edges of three of my front teeth, so you didn’t notice it too much and I healed. So it looked like I caught a left hook for only a few days. My teeth are rough to my tongue and I’ve been a terrible grinder all my life so my teeth had been getting shorter and my dentist told me that I’m now putting too much stress on my back teeth. He said this may speed up the need to get all my teeth fixed. He’s known me for about four years and has good records from when I first went to him. He said the day might soon come when I’d have to have a lot of my teeth capped starting with the front teeth because they were so worn down. He said with a bite like mine where the front teeth get worn, the back teeth start to hit harder when I’m grinding my food or just grinding in my sleep. It’s expensive so I’m hoping to get some help from my work insurance. He said I might get help with those three teeth but that wouldn’t look good or wear well. I don’t know how to proceed because I’ve got some projects that are taking a lot of cash right now. If I use a dental crown for the three that got hit, will that be good enough?
A: With the information you’ve provided the fast answer is no. If you use a dental crown for the three front teeth, they’ll have to be made to balance and blend with the rest. That means that your “dysfunction” will remain and your back teeth will still be wearing faster than they should.
When we chew, front teeth should ensure that back teeth don’t hit and grind in the chewing stroke. They are there to protect posterior molars and bicuspids and also ensure that our opening and closing muscles, which are also our chewing muscles, don’t get overstimulated. Overstimulation of chewing muscles puts stress and tension on our joints and ligaments leading to pain and dislocation. A great light has been shed in the last fifty years so that now many cases of the tooth and joint breakdown can be prevented. Definitive care will mean all your upper and lower anterior teeth may have to be crowned to gain back the needed function. Go slowly, go carefully but don’t put it off.
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Based on actual patient cases
Calvin Ross Crapo