I have teeth which have been a constant problem my whole life. It seems like every couple of months I’m back with a new problem even though I brush and floss as instructed. I told the dentist on this last visit that I’m just tired of it and want to just get dentures. He pretty much shouted that’s the worst thing I can do, and suggested I take better care of my teeth. I don’t know what else to do besides brushing and flossing two times a day. Are dentures truly my worst decision?
Steve O. – Pennsylvania
Admittedly, that wasn’t the best way for your dentist to handle the situation. Like in every other profession, sometimes dentists lack in people skills.
You can be doing everything you’re supposed to with your dental care and still struggle with your teeth. Your dentist should know this, too. Sometimes our genetics work against us and our teeth will be a problem no matter what. There are some extra steps your dentist can take, such as fluoride treatments.
As to whether dentures are your worst possible decision, it depends. If you’re losing your teeth and cannot afford a better option, then dentures are better than nothing. In your situation, here are the steps I’d recommend.
First, I’d try to save any teeth you can. Natural teeth are truly your best option. Even the top of the line tooth replacement, dental implants, which are like having natural teeth, have risks that you won’t have with your natural teeth.
Second, get crowns or implants on the teeth which can’t be saved. If you get to keep part of the tooth, get a porcelain crown. If the tooth is extracted, get an implant.
I realize that not everyone can afford a dental implant. In that case, I would say a removable partial denture would be okay. However, there is a downside to dentures.
When your teeth are removed, your body recognizes the roots of your teeth are gone and automatically begins reabsorbing the minerals in your jawbone. Eventually, you won’t have enough bone structure there to retain dentures. This is most common when you have a full set of dentures. You’ve likely seen patients in this situation. Their face has a sunken, aged appearance.
Implants solve this problem because it places a prosthetic root into your jawbone, so your body recognizes those minerals are still necessary.
The key here is to save what you can. Then, when you can’t, go down the list for the best replacement you can afford. I’d also talk to your dentist about getting some extra fluoride.
Another trick for fluoride is to make sure you’re drinking tap water and not bottled water. Bottled water is defluorinated. Your tap water should contain fluoride.
Also, don’t beat yourself up about your teeth. Sometimes, you can do everything right and still have problems with your teeth. You can’t change your genetics.
This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jerome Cha.