I’m Ready, What do I do Now?
Q: I have moved around in construction and the oil patch all my life. The jobs are demanding. It seems there’s never time for family and self care is not a high priority- especially teeth. I lost all my upper teeth but because it happened piecemeal, I got some implants for three teeth in the back. That was a good start and I was thinking maybe I can get this mouth taken care of. However, more pressures came and I lost the rest of my uppers. I got a flipper like partial to give me something to speak with and that’s about all it’s good for. I also lost most of my bottom right back teeth so I really can’t eat properly at all. I saw a dentist and he said the good thing in all this is that I’ve got good bone everywhere. I’ve got most of my lower front teeth though there’s decay in a number of them and I’ve got my lower left back teeth and molars. I don’t want dentures but I don’t know what can be done. The dentist said the implants I had placed some years ago were in very good shape. He said I had what looks like a hard bite and I have broken several teeth in this whole history so I don’t really know my options. Will I just break new teeth put in my mouth? Will implants hold? Will the new teeth stain? My life is better now than I can ever remember so I’d like to get started.
A: While there are a number of issues to address, your comments also point to strengths that may lead to a very favorable outcome. First you have lost teeth to decay, abscessing and breakage due to weakened tooth structure. Poor dental hygiene affects not only tooth structure, and gums and bone, but also permits more rapid breakage from biting pressures as tooth structure weakens. If you are ready to care for new teeth there are methods that will allow your teeth to retain their beautiful tooth shade indefinitely. With the bone you have, placing enough implants in the right places will give strength that will not be overcome. However, your dentist must determine while the teeth are in their temporary state just how much pressure you put on them and must balance your biting and grinding forces carefully, so that individual teeth are not stressed beyond their normal limits. Education and careful observation by you and your dentist will lead to knowing how your teeth can best be protected. You are in a small percentage of those who get a chance at a new set of teeth that are easy to clean, maintain and feel like your own.
Based on actual patient cases
Calvin Ross Crapo