Is there a temporary aesthetic solution to toothlessness?
November 26, 2013 6:59 AM   Subscribe

A year into recovery from a decade-long meth addiction, the most obvious and lingering effect for me is a horrific case of "meth mouth". I've been told I'll need to have my remaining teeth pulled and replaced with a full set of dentures. Due to my HIV status, I receive basic dental care and denture coverage through a national insurance program; unfortunately, the system-wide policy of the program-affiliated clinics in my city is that once my teeth are removed, I must wait about 6 months for my mouth to heal sufficiently before I'm fitted for dentures. Is there anything I can do to avoid looking drooling pudding for the next half year?

I can understand why it's imperative to have one's dentures fit properly, and the waiting period after extraction makes sense. And I'm certainly willing to accept full responsibility for my current circumstances. But my self esteem is already the lowest it's been since junior high, and I can't bear the thought of being even uglier for six months.

My dad, whose income is fairly limited, too, has indicated he may be willing to help me financially if I can figure out some way to at least LOOK like I have a full set of teeth, even if said teeth aren't entirely functional, while I have my remaining real ones extracted and wait to be fitted for dentures. Are there such things as temporary dentures? And are they even remotely affordable?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
While waiting for my most recent bridge to be constructed, the dentist fitted me with a contraption that looked like a retainer with teeth on it, and I had to take it out while eating. I don't recall how much it was, but it was at least $150. He called it a "flipper," so ask your dentist about that.
posted by Etrigan at 7:20 AM on November 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

Hi, anon - congrats on entering recovery. It's so tough but so worth it. Can you give us an idea of where you're located? The dental clinics at teaching hospitals in metropolitan areas are generally excellent, albeit sloooow (you've gotta wait for appointments, and the appointments themselves are lengthy processes).

While I do know that there are temporary partial dentures (I had a one-tooth "denture" for a while during the dental implant process), I'm not sure about full-mouth ones. However, I am 100% sure the teaching hospital would be able to let you know about your various options.
posted by julthumbscrew at 7:21 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

There is something called "temporary dentures" that are typically made in advance of the teeth extraction and used in the interim (from the extraction until the permanent denture is ready and your mouth has healed properly). I think they tend to fit less perfectly than their permanent counterparts, but they would definitely achieve the aesthetic you're looking for.

I expect these are pretty expensive, but I wonder if a local dental school could offer a less costly option?

I know that not everyone is a candidate temporary or immediate dentures, but I think it is worth a shot. You have, I think, a good chance of finding a dentist who sympathizes with your desire to not look toothless for six months.

Good luck, and congratulations on your recovery!
posted by schroedingersgirl at 7:23 AM on November 26, 2013

three months seems like a long time. I would seek out an implant specialist and get a second opinion. Your best bet is reaching out to a dental hospital and getting a referral for a dentist. I had comprehensive denture placement earlier this year where four teeth were removed and capped with a temporary. It took roughly six hours to do the procedure and fit the temporary. Then, three weeks to heal enough to fit the final crown. The pain was like being punched repeatedly for six hours in a row. I needed around one gram of Aleve each day to get through it.
posted by parmanparman at 7:48 AM on November 26, 2013

He called it a "flipper,"

These are big on the pageant circuit, so you'll likely run into some toddlers&tiaras type stuff if you google them, just so you know. To my knowledge, they require that there be other teeth available to clip onto (held in place by a retainer friction fit), but maybe not. They are usually purely cosmetic.

I have NO IDEA as to the quality, but I know there are such things as DIY flipper kits and places where you can order ones to be made overseas for much, much cheaper than your dentist could make you. It might be something to look into if you want something that'll be temporary and ok in the meantime.
posted by phunniemee at 7:50 AM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

There are things called Immediate Dentures, that go into your mouth right after extraction. There are some real benefits to these.

Discuss with your dentist/prosthodontist, and see if you can make an arragement, where he/she accepts the payment at month 6, and you pay off the difference in the meantime, or on an ongoing basis.

You may not be used to advocating for yourself, but having the discussion with your care-provider may lead to a solution that you can all live with.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:06 AM on November 26, 2013 [4 favorites]

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