I’ve always had problems with most of my upper teeth. They are so bad that I only have a couple left on top. Fortunately, I have most of my lower teeth.
I’m wondering what I should do at this point. I’m considering getting the last two teeth on top removed so I can get a full upper denture at this point. Or is possible that I can get another treatment done and just leave the last two teeth as they are.
They are healthy and I think they will continue to function well. I currently have an upper partial denture. It is uncomfortable and feels really big and bulky. The last dentist I saw felt that I may be happier if I moved forward with a full upper denture instead of the partial at this point.
I saw another dentist that basically said that it was up to me whatever I wanted to do. I use them for eating nearly every meal and only need to avoid things that are really crunchy, like nuts. I also find the partial denture to be bothersome when I’m talking too. So, I know there is no turning back once the last two upper teeth are extracted. I am curious if you think I would be better served and happier with an upper denture. I have a feeling it will at the very least look nicer.
My budget is an issue too because I cannot exceed $5,000. I am 54 years old and I don’t want to be ashamed of my smile every time I try to go out and socialize.
Please let me know if you have you recommendations, because I feel like I get different treatment plans with each consultation I do. I am feeling so confused.
-Paul in New Jersey
Thank you for reaching out about your situation. It is important for you to realize that without having seen your case in person, it is extremely difficult to provide individualized recommendations about what may or not be the best treatment option. However, we can give you some more information about treatments that are used to replace missing teeth and hopefully it will provide some help in your decision-making process.
Dentists have varying opinions on the importance of saving natural teeth. Many feel that it is absolutely imperative to save a natural tooth whenever possible. The next best option to your natural tooth would be a dental implant, which is the most permanent solution and feels, functions and serves just like a natural tooth. But, using a removable appliance tends to have many disadvantages over other alternatives. This is because they are not anchored in place and as you’ve mention can cause other issues in how they look and feel. A dental implant is surgically implanted into the jawbone, which stimulates the bone to keep it in place and prevent bone loss, while enabling you to eat, talk and function just like a natural tooth.
It sounds like you are probably putting a lot of strain on these two teeth if they are taking the majority of the force when you are eating. So, even though you say that they are healthy, it is possible they may be overworked at this point.
Let’s focus on the full upper denture option. The good news is that an upper denture usually fits better is easier to chew with and tends to be more comfortable than a lower denture. It is held in place by suction and shouldn’t move around a whole lot. Whereas a lower denture is not held in place by suction due to the location of your tongue. It is held in place using gravity, the tongue and cheek muscles.
Another thing to consider is that since you are only 54 years old, you will end up dealing with bone resorption. We touched on it earlier when we talked about how a dental implant stimulates the jawbone. Essentially, your body doesn’t think that the vitamins and minerals are needed to support the teeth any longer so they are resorbed and used elsewhere in the body. This can cause a condition called facial collapse and after 10 to 20 years it will be very difficult to keep a denture in place. This is because the bone shrinks and the individual with facial collapse will end up looking a lot older than they are since their face appears sunken in from the bone loss. Again, the effects of facial collapse are usually more exaggerated for lower teeth. But it will likely be complicated for the suction to work well when the bone shrinks over time.
This is a lot of information and again it is difficult to provide you specific recommendations without having seen you in person. The most ideal treatment option for you would be to keep the natural teeth for as long as possible and replace the missing upper teeth with dental implants. You can also get what is called an implant-supported denture. This would help the denture to stay in place and not move around and also prevent bone loss where the teeth are missing. You may be able to support the denture with only two dental implants, which may help you stay around the budget number you mentioned.
If budget does limit the ideal treatment option, the next best option for you may be to sacrifice your two healthy teeth and move forward with a complete upper denture. That would work okay and it would look nicer than the partial you have now. It would also be an improvement in your chewing efficiency and you’d likely find it more comfortable.
Hopefully, this information has helped provide you with some other alternatives you can consider. But, it is still best to talk through your options with a reputable implant dentist in your area.
Thank you for your questions.
This post is sponsored by Petaluma dentist Dr. Rick Lane.