dentistry on a fixed income

Getting a Permanent Tooth Replacement on a Fixed Income

If you or a loved one is on a fixed income and needs a single tooth permanently replaced, don’t let that dissuade you from seeking help. There are affordable options available to you.
Here’s an example of a case that we helped recently in our office.

I’m On A Fixed Income. What Are My Options?

This new patient came to me in pain. Her face showed swelling on the right side, and she could not sleep.
When I examined her and took an x-ray, I found the source of the discomfort. Her lower right molar broke down to the gum. I could see extensive decay on the tooth, and I knew that this tooth was the culprit. Frequently I can save a tooth with a root canal or a crown.
However, this case was different.
The cavity on this tooth went so far under the gum level that keeping the tooth in her mouth is impossible. My only course of action to relieve her pain and swelling involved removing the tooth.

Single Permanent Tooth Replacement Options

Those readers who follow this column should know what happens next.
After the patient felt better, I discussed tooth replacement.
Let me review the options which prompted my patient’s question. First and foremost, when a single tooth replacement is on the agenda, I look for a permanent replacement. A permanent replacement means that the patient in an easy fashion does not remove the tooth. The design is such that removal by the patient is impossible.
Once I establish that permanent is best, then I begin to discuss various options.

In short, there are two choices for a permanent single tooth replacement.

Option 1 – A Dental Implant

The first approach involves the use of a dental implant. Whether I place the implant on the day that I remove the tooth or implant placement occurs down the road after gum healing is irrelevant to this discussion. The result is the replacement of an extracted tooth with a permanent solution.
One of the significant advantages of an implant is that we don’t need to involve the teeth next to the missing ones, which happens with our next permanent choice.

Option 2 – A Permanent Bridge

That choice is a permanent bridge.
A permanent bridge involves attaching the replacement for the missing tooth to the teeth on either side. This attachment to the adjacent teeth involves crowns on these teeth. The bridge approach is a quicker procedure from start to finish than an implant. Speed of treatment is a feather in its cap.

The cost for a single implant or a bridge is very close in price.
My patient struggled with these costs because of her fixed income. She understood the importance of replacing the missing tooth but felt the treatment was out of her reach. At that moment, she asked me about alternatives that would be less costly. In the past, the only solution was a big removable bridge. These bridges involved a lot of metal and plastic.

A New Third Affordable Option!

Newer technology allows me to make a much smaller bridge at almost half the cost. I don’t need to use any metal, and this will help with cosmetics in that area. The new style bridge is lightweight yet fits very well. Patients commented to me that it is like there is nothing in their mouths.
Her fixed income finances dictated the latter approach, and following extraction of the tooth, I will begin this treatment.

Besides affordability, the speed of the treatment is like a bridge, and no numbing is part of the procedure. Nobody likes a shot of an anesthetic, and my patients are thrilled when I tell them that it is not necessary.

On a Fixed Income? We Can Help!

If you need a tooth extracted or are missing teeth and are on a fixed income, please call Joyce at  440.892.1810 and let’s discuss your options for replacement. You might be surprised when I suggest something new, novel, and affordable!

Jeffrey Gross, DDS, FAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine.

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