I always get the side-eye when I say this, but I’m 35 and I’m ready to have all my teeth pulled and get some dentures. Hear me out on this, please. I didn’t get dental care at all when I was younger. It was just something my parents didn’t do. I don’t know if it was ignorance or just the fact that we were poor, but for whatever reason, we never got checked out. I had two kids before I hit my 20s and another at 21. They got all the attention. I have no regrets about that at all. However, by the time I was 25 and finally went in the first time for a toothache, we discovered that almost every tooth in my mouth had a serious problem. I was given a treatment plan that was over $10,000… WITH insurance. Obviously, I didn’t do that. It just was not within the realm of possibility for me. So, I basically went in and had teeth pulled as they started to bother me. We’re at six so far and I’ve got another one brewing. The last time I asked about just getting dentures and being done with it, all I got was a lecture about how I should save my teeth.
Look, I’m already embarrassed by my teeth. I have trouble getting jobs. I haven’t had a date in years. I hurt. I don’t need a lecture. What I need is straightforward information about which path I should take without the judgments. I don’t see how they could be all that bad. Not where I’m coming from.
Thanks in advance,
No judgments here. In fact, quite the opposite. You’re dealing with some pretty dramatic issues and correcting them has the potential to transform quite a bit of your life. You should be with a dental office that lifts you up and empowers you to take action while recognizing that you’re an individual with unique needs. Let’s look at the aspects of your question.
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
Let’s preface this by laying things out in a way you may not have heard yet. You do NOT have to address this all at once. This is 35 years of buildup, so nobody should expect you to tackle $10,000 worth of work at once. The right dentist will perform an exam and help you triage. He or she will help you figure out which teeth can still be saved and prioritize treatment to increase how many you can save. This is called staged treatment, where the most urgent is prioritized and the rest is done as able. That way, you can knock out what you can as your budget allows. Take deep breaths. You got this.
Dentures Aren’t “That Bad,” but They Have Problems
At this stage, you might need to look at options like a partial or even a full denture. That’s ok too. In this sense, dentures can be a fine replacement for your missing teeth, restoring form and function. However, they won’t feel like your natural teeth and they won’t work exactly the same. For this reason, many people look into options like implant-supported dentures, which can give a bit more stability and comfort. That adds onto the expense a bit, though, so it’s really important to hold onto what you can while you can.
You’re so young. The average lifespan for a woman in the US is a little over 81 years, meaning you won’t have teeth for 46 years or more if you have yours extracted now. What most people don’t realize is that teeth send signals to the jawbone telling it that it’s needed. So, if you have one tooth gone, the jawbone where that tooth was will start to melt away in a process called resorption. When multiple teeth are missing, the whole area melts away. The mouth takes on a sunken-in look, referred to as facial collapse. People experience it at different rates, but you’ll be living with it for most of your life if you take this step now. Having dental implants prevents that from happening.
The bottom line: please save what you can. Even if you can’t save all your teeth, hold onto them for as long as possible. What you’ve gone through has been no walk in the park and dentures will absolutely help you. They probably will be an improvement considering what you’re dealing with now. But, they are not your only option and you will do better in the long run if you preserve what you can right now. Hang in there and best of luck to you.
This blog is sponsored by Huntsville Dentist Dr. Steve Murphree.