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What My Car and I Have in Common

Dr. Crapo

Q: Dr. Crapo: Three months ago I experienced a loosening of my lower left bridge. It had been done about ten years ago and had served me well. During that time, a root canal was done on the forward tooth holding the bridge in. Since its loosening, I have seen my dentist and several others looking for solutions to fix it, replace it, or to put in implants. My dentist said it was a five-unit bridge. He told me I have a supporting tooth at the front of the bridge and one at the back of the bridge, with three fake teeth joined between them. It’s glued in so it doesn’t come out, but the front end got loose so my bridge is loose. Another concern I have is my bite and my joints make a grating sound when I open and close - more so on my left side than my right. I was hoping that when the work was done, my bite would get straightened out and the grating would stop. Is that possible? If the bridge needs to be replaced, should I have a new one made or should I put implants in. How many implants would I need?

A: Your brief dental history leads me to believe that the mechanics of your bite may be causing breakdown of your dental work and your joints. Your desire to have your bite improved with the needed dentistry is a logical one. Joints should not grate and ten-year-old bridges should not fail. The first thing that’s needed is a good evaluation.

Our teeth are part of a complex system of muscle, joints, ligaments, bone and gums. A metaphor for the mechanics of your bite is a car with its steering mechanism, a balanced set of tires and an alignment system that allows the car to operate smoothing and efficiently.

If the steering mechanism is faulty in your mouth, teeth deteriorate. If the balance of tooth striking tooth is off, teeth will break, crowns come off, bone will be lost and gums recede. If your mouth has an alignment problem, severe deterioration can occur to every element of this complex system. Which is better? After these concerns mentioned above are dealt with, the implant option is, because the span of the bridge is very long and more susceptible to failure. The number of implants needed is at least two to support a bridge made to replace the three “fake” teeth. A better option for cleanliness and strength is three implants with individual crowns. I cannot promise the grating will stop, but a well-balanced bite should stop the deterioration of your joints.

If we can help, we’d like to. Call 778-410-2080 for a consultation.

Based on actual patient cases.


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