Let me share a true story with you of how little a patient really knows about what’s going on in their mouth.
This afternoon a lady in her late 40’s consulted with me asking to replace a tooth with an implant.
Crown Falling Out – Upper Premolar
The reason for her visit was that a tooth had been crowned and was most uncomfortable. The crown was often falling out and always at the wrong time. She knew there was something wrong and it had to be attended to. Nobody that she had recently been to see could help her properly!
Thanks to Dr Google she found our office. She has certainly come to the right place. A specialist prosthodontist is trained to offer comprehensive dentistry by treating the specific problem and making an overall assessment of the entire mouth.
A single tooth may present with a problem that needs attention. But a tooth does not stand alone. It is part of the whole mouth of teeth which all function together and work in harmony to provide comfort and function. The jawbones, the muscles, the teeth, tongue all function together and form the beginning of the digestive tract.
Besides this particular problem, a complete examination of her mouth revealed a host of other problems that she was totally unaware of. She is missing lower back teeth which have caused the collapse of her bite and increased wrinkles on her face.
She now has crooked front teeth. Amazingly she says she has no difficulty in chewing. This may be true at the moment because of adaptation over time but in the long run things are only going to get worse with the possible loss of more teeth. She does not realize the consequences.
Because of the loss of back teeth one may start to experience pain in the joints of the jaw and even gaps may develop between the front teeth. Chewing becomes difficult. Some foods need to be avoided and digestive problems may occur. These are chewing problems that are avoidable and if they occur, are difficult and costly to treat.
Many of her remaining lower teeth are problematic and are coming to the end of their usefulness.
In general, I often wonder why so many patients loose back teeth so nonchalantly. Somehow they don’t realise the importance of them or the consequences of their loss.
Back teeth: right hand side
So now, what does one advise this lady going forward… She certainly does not want to be like her elderly parents who now wear dentures and who didn’t have the benefits of modern dentistry in their day. (Fortunately many denture wearers can now also derive the benefit of implants but who wants to be in that position in the first place).
There is shock, disappointment and dismay when coming to the realisation that the treatment of this single tooth is not an isolated procedure and that her past treatment has not provided for sound long -term dental health.
Back teeth: left hand side
The recommended approach to treatment is hard to digest (excuse the pun). Treatment is now costly and time-consuming. It all could have been avoided with proper dental care.