My son is twenty-two years old and a drug addict. We’re getting him help. We’ve got him off the street and back at home. We’ve realized his teeth need a lot of work. I brought him to see my dentist who just wants to extract all of his teeth. That would be 27 teeth at one time. First, that seems like a lot of teeth to extract at once. Do you think this is the right plan for him?
I absolutely do not agree with your dentist about his treatment recommendation. Your son is only 22 years old. Here’s the thing. When your teeth are removed, your body recognizes that and begins resorbing the minerals in your jawbone to use elsewhere in an effort to be efficient and use resources wisely. Unfortunately, this means by the time your son is in his mid to late 30s he won’t have enough jawbone left to retain his dentures. This is known as facial collapse and will make him a dental cripple. This is a horrible way for him to live out his life and will lead to malnutrition.
Your dentist is looking out for what is easy for him, not what is best for his patient. That alone would make me want to switch care givers. It is also possible he doesn’t see your son as worth the effort because of his addiction. Especially given your son’s addiction, he needs people who believe in him. People who can give him hope for his future. That is another reason to switch caregivers in this case.
The Best Options for Your Son
First and foremost, my recommendation is for you to save all the teeth you possibly can. Nothing is better for him than natural teeth. It is worth the time and effort to save all of them you can. He likely has some serious gum disease going on as well. That will probably be a good dentist’s top priority. Without treating that, he will start to lose teeth anyway.
Now, I haven’t examined your son. So, let’s say it is the worst-case scenario and his teeth just can’t be saved. Here is what I would do. When it comes to the extractions, DO NOT do all the teeth at once. The amount of Novocain necessary for that is huge. Plus, your son likely has a high tolerance to medication. I would do the extractions in stages.
Once the teeth are removed, dentures alone will be a disaster. We have already discussed facial collapse. Instead, get implant-supported dentures. These use between four to six dental implants on each arch and secure the dentures to his jaw. Not only will he be better able to eat and function, but the implants serve as prosthetic tooth roots which prevents your son from losing any of his jawbone. This will give him the best shot at a healthy bite.
This blog is brought to you by Atlanta Periodontist Dr. David Pumphrey.