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Q: I hope you can give me some guidance. I just turned 77 and have become conscious of the way my teeth look. I have small teeth that hit end to end.
My dentist tells me I am a grinder. When I bring my teeth together, the spot where they meet forms something that looks like a “V.”
Over the years, I have had a few bridges done and some crowns. All of them seem to be a little different in color. When I discussed this with my dentist, he told me that things could be fixed but that it would take a while. He also told me I should be prepared to wear a nightguard from then on. When I asked why, he just said I need to, otherwise I am wasting my money on fixing things.
I know I am pretty old to be thinking this way, but it has become important to me. I don’t want to waste money, but I really want nicer teeth. However, I will admit I am not happy with the idea of a nightguard.
Anything you can mention in your article will be helpful. Thanks! By the way, I love your article each week.
A: First of all, if you took the time to write to me, your smile must be important to you. I suggest you gather all the data you can, as you are doing, and proceed with your new smile. You will be amazed what dentistry can do for you in 2012.
Second, I think I know exactly what you are talking about. Your dentist is actually on target with everything he has said to you.
With you being a grinder, you have essentially ground your teeth down to the point that they are now smaller than they were originally. In addition, you have what we call an edge-to-edge occlusion. You essentially have worn off the edges of your teeth to the point that your teeth slide side-to-side and back-and-forth without anything in their way.
Your dentist is suggesting the nightguard because, once he builds your new occlusion (the way your teeth come together), he needs to protect it from the forces that wore down your teeth in the first place. Without the nightguard, you will destroy the porcelain on the crowns and bridges. This is why he mentioned you would be wasting your money unless you use the nightguard.
If I may make a suggestion, there is a type of temporary restoration that does no harm to your natural teeth, yet can serve as a trial appliance for what your are looking for in your final result. It will give both you and your dentist a chance to see what things can look like, as well as whether or not you will actually destroy things as he and I think you will.
Talk to your dentist about this. I believe it will be worth the additional investment for both of you.
Lastly, continue to pursue this. If done correctly, you will be thrilled. Though you have an idea of what this will look like in the end, I am willing to bet it turns out even better than you expected. I am excited for you. Good luck!
Dr. Frank Vascimini is a dentist practicing in Homosassa. Send your questions to 4805 S. Suncoast Blvd., Homosassa, FL 34446 or email them to info@MasterpieceDentalStudio.com.