You don't have to brush all your teeth - just the ones you want to keep
March 21, 2011 9:38 AM   Subscribe

Help me figure out next steps with regard to the mess that is my mouth, specifically my teeth

short version: atrocious teeth. Now that the big stuff is over, what next?

Longer version: I've changed dentists since but not because of this mess. I have a wonderful new dentist who handles my dental anxiety well and is very good at explaining what he's doing/treatment plan, etc. I've been seeing him about a year and he's fixed the worst of the messes (broken crown, root canals, etc) that were causing pain.

Now we're onto the next steps. Not cosmetic or anything but not immediate. I have a space on my lower left from a tooth that was removed probably 15 years or so ago. It's the 2nd tooth from the back. I have no wisdom teeth. Teeth are shifting so the space is smaller but it doesn't impact chewing. I have some money in my flexible spending account but not enough to cover anything big. He knows this and is very good at working with me to be sure I don't pay too much out of pocket so it's not a question of fleecing. I just don't know if it needs to be done and how to determine which is better, bridge or implant. In either case, something would need to be done with the back-most tooth because there's a ginormous filling.

I'm kind of hesitant to do something this big and costly for two reasons. One, no guarantee that the teeth around it will survive and I'll eventually need a bigger replacement. My teeth are horrid due to genetics, weak enamel, etc. Two, I've been having bite issues over the last few years. Likely due to crowns and having a more "normal" bite. It has made my TMJ flare up. I don't know that this will improve that at all and fear it will make it worse. Dentist has made this clear this is my choice, I just don't feel educated enough to make the choice.

Any ideas/experiences etc? Thanks!
posted by TravellingCari to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can only speak to the bridge v.s implant piece.

An implant is expensive, but it will last much, much longer. When my husband had some massive dental work done, we elected to go with an implant over a replacement bridge. But x-rays showed that the nerves to the teeth next to where the implant would go were too close together for the dentist's comfort to do an implant on that side. So we went with a bridge.

So, I would do what you need to do to find out if an implant is possible if you have that choice, and I'd go from there about making the decision between the implant and the bridge.

As for everything else, go back to your dentist for further consultation. Ask all the questions you have, and then if you're still uncertain, seek a second opinion.
posted by zizzle at 9:58 AM on March 21, 2011

Hooray for getting a better dentist! I opted for a bridge when I broke off a tooth (damn you, veggie eggroll + problematic tooth). In my case, I also had a ginormous cavity in an adjacent tooth (a front tooth) which I had been told would greatly benefit from a crown of its own, so the bridge solved both problems. It was also cheaper. It sounds like you may have a similar situation. Maybe ask the dentist if the bridge would help solve the issue with the hindmost tooth? It might be totally different since your issue is further back in your mouth.

I was very hesitant about getting a bridge. (A bridge?! I'm only 40!) It took a little getting used to, but I am happy with the result and I don't really think about it anymore. I offer this only as one experience - hopefully you will get more from others. But ultimately I agree that you should discuss both options further with your dentist. Good luck!
posted by Glinn at 10:35 AM on March 21, 2011

In preparation for that next talk with your dentist, you might want to read some of the many questions on AskMe about bridges vs. implants. What's best for you will depend on your own history and the current state of your teeth, but from skimming those answers, it sounds like most folks are firmly on the side of implants. One thing I learned was that, if you get a bridge, you may end up having to floss UNDER it, which sounds a little squicky to me.
posted by kristi at 8:38 AM on March 22, 2011

Response by poster: thank you both for the input/info. Glinn - that's part of my issue as well. I'm only 31. At least this dentist has resolved the breaking crowns issue, touch wood.

Will update when/if this gets resolved.
posted by TravellingCari at 1:05 PM on March 22, 2011

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