I Keep Losing My Teeth
Q: Just three years ago, I felt a problem in a molar that had been treated with a root canal and a crown several years before. When I saw the dentist, he said I had a gum abscess that was destroying the bone around the roots. It had to come out, so it was extracted, and a bone graft put in. Eighteen months later I had a similar problem, this time on the lower and upper right side. I lost four molars to gum abscesses. When the dentist did an x-ray, he was surprised to see lots of bone destruction around these four teeth. What surprised us both is that the x-rays just eighteen months earlier had not shown this destruction going on. It is distressing because now I have no molars to chew with on the right side. I thought of getting implants, so I went back and had a very thorough work-up. The result was that two lower right front teeth have lost a lot of bone which I’ve been feeling lately; I’m getting pockets and puffiness around these teeth. In the work-up, the dentist showed me that I’m grinding my teeth. I have always had a bad bite and I seem to fiddle with my teeth unconsciously. The dentist saw it and commented on it. My husband, who was with me at the consult, confirmed that during the day I do it all the time. Can that be the cause of my problem? This makes me very nervous to lose my teeth so quickly. I need teeth to chew with; what do I do? I’m in my early fifties, I need this to be taken care of.
A: Adults who have rapid tooth loss usually have a genetic trait that is seen in other family members but tooth loss usually starts earlier if genetics is the major cause. A genetic problem is manifested in parents or grandparents or both. Usually, some or all siblings will also manifest this problem. In some individuals, aggressive gum infection compounded with a bad bite and/or clenching and grinding can result in isolated teeth (that are taking most of the force) rapidly losing bone. Smoking is the fourth bad guy in the scenario. Before implants, in a case like this, perfecting and balancing the bite was orchestrated by a prosthodontist (crown and bridge and denture specialist) who would ensure harmonized function. He would temporize this new bite and ask a periodontist (a gum and bone surgeon) to do any surgery so that “pockets” were eliminated and gum support strengthened. Once healing took place and both specialists were satisfied, final crowns and bridges were installed. Today, that treatment is still available and can produce excellent results. Another solution is teeth in a day where one decides to remove the existing teeth (especially if a majority are not saveable). An excellent bite can be established and healing is predictable. Get as much information as possible then decide what’s best for you.
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Based on actual patient cases
© Calvin Ross Crapo
Victoria Implant Centre 778-410-2080