My husband hasn’t been to a dentist in years. He had a horrible toothache a few weeks ago and I had to force him to see a dentist. The dentist said it was a good thing I did because he had several infected teeth and advanced gum disease. In fact, the dentist said he’s got such serious gum disease that he’s probably going to lose all of his teeth. My husband is absolutely mortified. He remembers his father having to wear dentures he doesn’t want to look that way. I’m afraid he’s going to just leave his teeth as is. Is there anything I can do to help him?
There’s quite a bit you can do to help him. The first thing I’d do is remind him that people still die of tooth infections. There are several stories from last year which are completely tragic, including a young father of three children. Show him those so he doesn’t put off getting the infected teeth dealt with as soon as possible.
Getting the teeth dealt with won’t necessarily mean he’ll lose them. Often, it simply requires a root canal treatment and porcelain crown. It’s only if he lets it progress too far that it will require them to be extracted.
The second thing I’d do is get a second opinion. It’s important you find a dentist who is willing to fight to save as many teeth as possible. Natural teeth are always better. If it turns out his teeth can’t be saved he has many more options than his father did. In fact, even dentures have add-ons that will make a huge difference. There are also amazing alternatives.
Danger of Dentures
Your husband probably remembers his father after several years of wearing dentures. Likely he suffered from facial collapse. When your teeth are removed, your body perceives your teeth roots are no longer there. As a result, it begins to reabsorb the minerals in your jawbone where it thinks they’ll be of more use.
After ten or so years, he’ll hardly have any jawbone left. This is known as facial collapse (see the image directly above). Not only will it make him look years older; it will also make him a dental cripple. This means he’ll no longer be able to keep his dentures in because there’s no jawbone for them to rest on.
There are options. Some options are used with dentures and another is a completely different procedure.
Options to Complete Dentures
Dental implants are the absolute best option to dentures. He’ll have prosthetic teeth roots surgically placed into his jaw. Then, after a healing period, dental crowns will be attached to replace his teeth. It is the closest thing to him having healthy, natural teeth again.
The only real downside is the price. It is more expensive than dentures, though it does have a much better quality of living factor which makes up for the cost. However, he will be unable to get them until his gum disease is under control.
His dentist mentioned he will likely lose more teeth because of his gum disease. That means they will fall out. If his natural teeth will fall out, so will his dental implants.
Now if he only loses a few teeth, then it makes sense to get an implant for each tooth. However, if he loses all of his teeth, then it will be too expensive to replace each tooth. In that case, the better option for him is implant overdentures. It uses about six implants to completely secure the dentures to his jaw.
The humongous benefit to both implants and implant overdentures is they prevent facial collapse. By having prosthetic roots, it signals to your body that you still need the mineral in your jaw.
This blog is brought to you by Huntsville Dentist Dr. Steve Murphree.