By:Dr. James Jacobs
Q: My husband, age 50, was recently diagnosed with periodontal disease and has just gotten a recommendation that all of his upper teeth and most of the lowers be replaced by dentures, as it looks like they cannot be saved. We’re seeing a periodontist in a couple of weeks. What alternatives might be available to us?
A:There are so many options available today that it would be difficult to explain them all. That said, I’ll give you a brief overview that can help you get the discussion going with the periodontist.
First of all, there may be a possibility that some of the teeth your husband was told to remove can actually be saved. Periodontal surgery — including deep cleanings, bone grafting, and splinting and joining of teeth — can do a lot to help people keep their natural teeth when they have periodontal (gum) disease. To make this happen, though, your husband will need to adhere to a dental-care plan focused on improving his oral hygiene; deep cleanings will need to be performed and possibly periodontal surgery, including grafting bone that’s been affected by periodontal disease. The good news is that some of his teeth — or perhaps even many of them — may be salvaged this way.
If it is determined that, in fact, some teeth cannot be saved, then I believe the best alternative would be dental implants. Dental implants are titanium screws that are inserted gently into the jawbone. The purpose of dental implants is to replace the root structures of the teeth that were removed. Then dental crowns, or tooth restoration materials, are built on top of those implants. If the dentist is able to place enough implants in your husband’s mouth with proper biological engineering, then he or she can essentially restore the teeth that have been damaged due to periodontal disease. Dental implants are permanent (unlike dentures, which are removable).
Sometimes price becomes a very big issue with dental implants, though, and you may be able to afford only a few implants at a time. Also, sometimes the amount of healthy bone remaining in the mouth will be a factor in whether a patient can actually receive dental implants. The key is to see an excellent periodontist and have proper X-rays taken, including a regular set of dental X-rays, and possibly a three-dimensional X-ray, so that you can assess how much healthy bone is left, the status of the teeth that are there, how viable it is to save them, and whether implants should be placed using bone grafting. If none of these options is possible, my last recommendation would be dentures.
Original Source:: Every Day Health.com