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My mother is 85 years old. Just last week she had two teeth filled. She recently lost a tooth and has a partial for that area. Then a few days ago, another tooth fell out. Both missing teeth are from the lower jaw. Fortunately they are in different areas of the mouth. She is very self-consious. At her age, her remaining teeth and gums are probably not in the best of health. We are considering a bridge(s) but are not sure as we don’t know how healthy the rest of her teeth are. Do you have any affordable recommendations on what we can do for the area that is missing teeth?
– Diane from Colorado
If I am understanding you correctly, these two teeth just fell out. If that is the case, your mother has advanced periodontal disease (gum disease). It doesn’t get more advanced than that, for teeth to be so loose that they just fall out.
Continuing on with that assumption, it is likely that she has no really solid teeth left, so bridges would be out of the question. A bridge anchors replacement teeth to the remaining teeth, but in doing so it puts additional stress on those remaining teeth. In your mother’s case, that would hasten their demise.
The ideal replacement for missing teeth is dental implants. However, you asked for something affordable. Your mother would likely need full-mouth restoration, and the price for doing that with dental implants could easily get to be $20,000 to $40,000.
Given the condition of advanced periodontitis, all of her teeth are likely loose and would be candidates for extraction. I would seriously look at complete removable dentures. The main disadvantage of removable dentures is that it begins a long-term process of bone resorption. But at the age of 85, that would not be likely to be a significant problem for her.
Another solution would be a type of partial denture called a Cu-Sil partial that is built like a complete denture, but has holes in it to allow the existing teeth to poke through, and there is a silicone ring in each hole that snugly holds each tooth. This is a little more stable than a complete denture, and as additional teeth are lost, it is a simple matter to then close each hole and put in a new artificial tooth.
A conventional removable partial denture also puts extra stress on the remaining teeth. It’s not as much stress as a bridge, but it’s still enough to weaken the teeth, so I wouldn’t recommend that either.
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About David A. Hall
Dr. David A. Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does advanced internet marketing for dentists.