My son is only 21 years old and he is a recovering drug addict. Sadly, his teeth are in terrible shape. We saw a dentist recently to see if he could give us some recommendations now that my son is improving and staying clean. The dentist told him he needs to have 27 teeth extracted at the same time, and then get complete dentures.
My gut is telling me that seems like a lot of work for one appointment. I also know that once his natural teeth are removed, they’re gone forever. So, even though his teeth aren’t good, I was wondering if we had any other options to save what is left of them. At the moment, he only has his front teeth that are functional and help him chew. I know the situation is extreme. I just wanted to get another opinion before we moved forward with such a drastic treatment plan.
Any insight you have will be greatly appreciated.
-Cynthia in Florida
This sounds like a highly-aggressive treatment plan, and you are wise to seek a second opinion. The dentist that recommended the extractions may be taking the easy way out as far as his treatment. However, it will create a lifetime of struggle for your son because he is still extremely young to have all his teeth taken out and replaced with dentures.
When all of the teeth are removed, the jawbone begins to resorb because the body doesn’t think that the minerals are needed to support the teeth any longer, and it uses them elsewhere. So, the result is that the jawbone shrinks. This creates many complications and problems as time goes by and is known as a condition called facial collapse. When this occurs, the individual not only looks much older than they are, the denture will become ill-fitting and be uncomfortable. Most individuals encounter facial collapse when they are elderly. Your son would deal with this condition for a large portion of his life. It can become debilitating and get to the point where the denture may not stay in place.
A better course of action for your son it to consider bone grafting. This procedure can be expensive and take some time. But in the long run, he will be much better off. It will expand the treatment options available to him to continue being able to function and eat normally.
There has to be some of the 27 remaining teeth that can be saved with dental crowns, partial dentures, bridges or some other combination of treatment. It may end up being more work for the dentist upfront, but it will give your son a much better quality of life.
If certain teeth are not salvageable, dental implants are also a possible treatment to replace his missing teeth. They will look, function and feel just like natural teeth. There is a surgical post that is implanted directly into the jawbone which stimulates the bone, and in turn prevents facial collapse. Even with the placement of only two dental implant on each arch, you would help prevent facial collapse. The more dental implants that are placed, the better the outcome. Once again, dental implants are an expensive option. So, depending on your budget, you may need to explore payment options.
Sadly, some dentists will think like this – well your son was a drug addict and he’s not worth my time. But, keep looking and you will find the right dentist who has his best interests in mind.
Also, the large amount of extractions that your dentist is recommending is too much for one dental appointment. There is an increased risk for trauma, complications and also the amount of Novocain needed for that many extractions is quite large. It really does sound like too much and may be a good indicator of the dentist’s interest in helping your son.
It sounds like it is in your best interest to keep exploring dentists and see how the treatment plans vary. It may take some time, but you should be able to find a dentist who you can trust.
This post is sponsored by Petaluma dentist Dr. Rick Lane.