Am I Doomed to Dentures?

My dentist said that my teeth aren’t worth saving and I should just get dental implants. When he showed me the price tag, I almost had a stroke. I told him there was no way I could afford to get those. He just shrugged and told me it’s that or dentures. I want to cry. Am I really doomed to dentures at 31?

Rebecca L.

Dear Rebecca,

Salem Snap on Denture

I’m a tad concerned that your dentist said that your teeth weren’t worth saving. Most dentists are of the opinion that every tooth is worth saving. You’ll find that saving natural teeth gives you a much better quality of life.

Sometimes teeth can’t be saved, even when you try your best. When that happens, then yes, dental implants are your best option. They’re the closest thing to having your own natural teeth. As you discovered, they are pretty pricey.

While dentures are a more affordable option, many patients hate them because they’re not anchored. At your age, dentures would be disastrous. There’s a condition known as facial collapse that will become an inevitability for you. When your teeth are removed, your body recognizes there is no longer a need for your jawbone to support the roots of your teeth. To that end, it removes the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere in your body where they may be more beneficial. Unfortunately, that means losing jawbone structure. Before long, you won’t have enough jawbone left to retain your dentures.

You may be feeling doomed right now, but there are options. The first one is the most important. I want you to get a second opinion. I can’t imagine, unless you just haven’t taken care of your teeth AT ALL, that at least some of your teeth cannot be saved. The more teeth you save, the better your outcome and the less money you’ll have to spend on replacements. It might be you won’t have to even worry about whether to get dental implants or dentures.

But, let’s plan for the worst. If you get a second opinion and the dentist said there wasn’t a way to save your teeth, don’t despair. It may be possible for you to set up a payment plan with your dentist in order to afford dental implants. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about being doomed to dentures. But, there’s always a possibility that even with the most generous payment plan, it would still be impossible for you.

If that’s the case, a decent option would be to get snap-on dentures. They use as few as two implants which enables you to snap the dentures. While you’re still getting dentures, these have a couple of benefits. First, they’re anchored. You won’t have to worry about them falling out the way traditional dentures do. Second, the areas that have the snaps will not lose jawbone.

You can do snap-on dentures with as few as two, but this allows you to save up until you can get a decent set of dental implants.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Randall Burba.

Dentist Refuses to Give Me Porcelain Veneers Because of Tongue Ring

Why does my dentist refuse to treat me because of a tongue ring? I have always wanted porcelain veneers. When my boyfriend proposed to me, I thought doing it shortly before my wedding would be ideal. But, my dentist said as long as I have a tongue ring he won’t place them. I don’t know if I should give in or just look for another dentist who’ll be willing to place them with my piercing? What’s the reasoning behind his ultimatum?

Shayne A.

Dear Shayne,

Salem Porcelain Veneers

Before we get into the piercing, I want to congratulate you on your upcoming nuptials. This is such an exciting time in your life. I can understand your desire to do your smile makeover right before your wedding. Most women want to look and feel like a princess at their wedding. At the very least, they want to look their absolute best.

While you’ll certainly be able to find a dentist who’ll be willing to place your porcelain veneers with or without your piercing, there are a couple of things to ask yourself before you move forward. Porcelain veneers are quite pricey, so you want to be sure you’re getting the best care possible and that whatever you get will not only be stunningly beautiful but will last throughout your lifetime.

The first thing to consider is longevity. You’ll want your porcelain veneers to stay gorgeous for many years. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if your natural teeth have quite a few chips and dings. You may even have some cracked teeth. Whenever someone has an oral piercing, there’s always quite a bit of damage which goes along with it.

That’s the likely reason behind your current dentist’s ultimatum. He wants to be certain any work he does will have a chance at lasting. Keeping your tongue ring is like trying to treat an asthma patient who refuses to give up smoking. You’re not going to stop the damage.

Another very important consideration is the artistic and technical ability of the dentist doing your new smile. Ideally, you’ll want a dentist who’s reached accreditation level with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. An AACD accredited dentist will have the skill to give you a gorgeous smile. In fact, most of them will have a beautiful smile guarantee.

You won’t need to have veneers placed on both arches of teeth. Generally, a patient will have veneers placed on their top teeth, but their bottom teeth will just use teeth whitening to get them to not distract from your top arch. One exception to that would be if your bottom teeth are equally as visible as your top teeth when you smile. In that case, you’ll want veneers on both.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Randall Burba.

Dentist Humiliated Me about the Condition of My Teeth?

I’m beyond humiliated. I haven’t been to the dentist in years because of finances. Though, I do try hard to take care of my teeth. I brush twice a day and floss every night. Yet, when I went to the dentist there was a LOT wrong with my teeth. That was bad enough, but when I asked him how I could spread out the treatment because I couldn’t afford everything he suggested he started yelling at me and telling me how irresponsible I’ve been about my teeth. He said if I care that little about them why don’t I just have them all extracted and get dentures. Then I’d not have to do anything for them. Then he stormed out. The office has an open floor plan so everyone in the entire clinic heard him. I was absolutely horrified and left in tears, without even paying because I was too embarrassed to stop. What do I do? Are dentures my only option if I can’t afford to get the work done? I’m only 37. It sounds horrifying to wear dentures at my age.

MaryAnne E.

Dear MaryAnne,

You certainly don’t deserve to be treated the way that dentist treated you, even if you hadn’t been taking care of your teeth, which you’ve obviously tried to do. When you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, it’s normal for you to need a lot of work done. Your dentist should have been happy to list it out for you in staged treatment lists.

Result of dentures

Whatever you do, don’t remove all of your teeth and replace them with dentures, especially at your age. When all your teeth are removed, your body begins reabsorbing the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere throughout your body. It’s remarkably efficient the way our body works. The problem comes in about ten or twenty years. You’ll only be in your 40s and you’ll no longer have enough jawbone left to even support dentures. Not to mention your face will take on a squashed appearance making you look two decades older than you are, as you can see from the illustration above.

My suggestion would be to get a second opinion from another dentist; preferably one who’s known for their kind manner to their patients. You can often find that kindness from dentists who work with fearful patients. Many patients with dental anxiety avoid the dentist for years. When they finally come back they don’t want to be judged or lectured. Neither do you.

When you go, have the dentist list out everything that needs to be done in order of importance. It’s important you save as many teeth as possible. Those which can’t be saved, it would be better to replace them with dental implants instead of dentures. These help to retain your jawbone.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Randall Burba.

Can’t Eat Since Getting Dental Implants

I need help and I’m not sure how to get it. Over a year ago I went to the dentist for the first time in a long time. She said my teeth couldn’t be saved and recommended removing all of them and replacing them with dental implants. I couldn’t afford that initial procedure she recommended, but we finally settled on implant supported dentures. Even then, I had to get a loan through this program they use. Ever since the implants were placed I’ve been in massive pain. In fact, I’m in more pain now than I was when this started. I’d hoped when they added the denture after my healing period I’d feel better. That’s what the dentist’s office told me too. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. In fact, it hurts so much I can’t even wear the dentures. I’ve lost over 60 pounds because I’ve essentially been on a liquid diet for this whole time. I can’t live like this anymore. The dentist says everything’s fine and I’ll adjust, but I’m not seeing any improvement. What do I do?

Belinda K.

Dear Belinda,

Salem Dental Implants

I’m sorry you’ve been in so much pain and am a little concerned that you’re losing so much weight and your dentist doesn’t seem to care. While some postoperative pain is normal, what you’re experiencing seems to be anything but normal. Your dentist should be willing to make this right on her own, but it seems like she may need a little nudge.

If it were just the dentures hurting I’d think they’re just in need of adjustment. But, this pain has been consistent from the beginning. I haven’t examined you, but I am wondering if the dental implants were improperly placed. What I’d like you to do is get a second opinion from a highly skilled implant dentist. Look at some of the training and experience Dr. Burba has to get an idea of what kind of dentist you’ll want to visit to have this looked at. Don’t tell them who your dentist is, just explain your symptoms and go from there.

If it turns out your dentist did something that caused the problem you should be able to get a full refund. You’ll still be in the position of needing to replace all your teeth. Implant-supported dentures are a good option. Unfortunately, once you’ve had implants placed, if you lose them, you’ll need to have bone grafting done in order to have more. This procedure is fairly easy and can be completed in a day.

I almost wish you’d had a second opinion before going through all this. There may have been a chance to save at least some of your teeth. Of course, there’s no turning back the clock now. Hopefully, your experience will help someone else.

I’m also hopeful you can get this resolved quickly just by getting a second opinion. I’m sorry you’ve had such a negative experience.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Randall Burba.