Self-Treatment, Oh My!
Q: I recently went to the dentist because I felt things in my mouth weren’t right. I hadn’t seen a dentist for eight years. He wanted to do implants and I thought he just wanted to line his pockets, so I saw another dentist and insisted he make me a partial denture instead. I must say that at the time my teeth were a bit loose, but I thought the partial would strengthen them. As he was making my partial, he said the upper right molars were too loose to use for support, so I had those out. He made the partial and the teeth seemed stronger with it in, so it was a great surprise when this new dentist showed me how loose my teeth are. He gave me a mirror to see and oh my! I thought my bridge that I had done fifteen years ago was going to fall out. He showed me decay had eaten one of the supporting teeth right in two. He asked me if I’d smoked in my life. “Yes” I said, “from about age 14 to age 55.” He said that smoking can dramatically be a factor in losing bone. He showed me that my loose teeth didn’t have any bone around them in the x-rays. He was surprised that despite all the bone loss, I could still have implants. The problem is the expense. I can’t afford implants for the upper and lower. When I asked him about dentures, he said the upper might give me satisfaction but the lower wouldn’t because there’s no suction to hold them in. Couldn’t I just have everything out and try the full dentures? I can’t believe I’m in this state. I’ve done everything to keep my teeth, I just didn’t realize what was happening and no one really told me. What about my idea of dentures?
A: There are literally dozens of reasons why things have gone terribly wrong, ranging from genetics to neglect. When bone loss is as severe as it appears from your history, genetics is often a player in that loss. Implants support bone, so wherever you can have them placed to support your teeth - do it, especially in the lower jaw. An ill-fitting lower set of teeth is not only miserable but increases the rate of bone loss. The implants will support the bone and stop movement of the teeth thus decreasing the forces that increase the rate of bone loss. You might get away without implants in the upper jaw because the bone in the palate is so stable. If you’ve got a nice high palate, you’ll get good support there, but the ridges where the teeth are now will resorb (“dissolve”) fairly quickly. Careful study must be made of your mouth before you go ahead.
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Based on actual patient cases
© Calvin Ross Crapo
Victoria Implant Centre 778-410-2080