Dentist told me I need a full upper denture and a partial lower.... I am absolutely petrified

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I am almost 40 years old. I have always had bad teeth due to a combination of not brushing as a kid, eating junk, and genetics. I didn't have any adult back teeth at all, they never formed, My father had full dentures at 25. In the past 20 years I have probably spent $30k out of pocket on my teeth, fighting the good fight. I have had extractions, root canals, crowns, posts, bone grafting, sinus lifts, and an implant post that I could never afford to add a tooth to. I knew dentures were inevitable and after a crown became loose and I felt that familiar anxiety of having to start dealing with teeth all over again. I realized I don't want to do it anymore. 

On the top I only have 8 teeth in the front, 7 of them have crowns, the 4 front teeth have posts in them. All are at least 8-10 years old. But that the crown that is loose is the farthest back one on the right, he said it is most likely due to the tooth underneath being broken. So that tooth would have to come out. The one next to it is the only tooth without a crown on top but is weak and has a decent cavity so it won't support a partial, it would also need to come out. Then he said honestly, I am a good candidate for a full upper denture because my gums look pretty good and because extracting the rest and putting in an immediate denture now just made the most economic sense. And at the time I agreed. That was Friday.

Today is Monday and I am freaking out! They have to get the denture and lower partial (those teeth still look okay) approved by my insurance, which could take at least 3 weeks. I have been googling all weekend. Thinking this would be okay. But my insurance won't cover anesthesia. The other 6 teeth on top are pretty okay and firmly rooted, all of them with crowns and 4 of them with the posts. I would have to be awake and fully aware as they pull all these teeth. I'm already starting to cry writing this.

Besides the pain, I am afraid people will think I lost my teeth due to drug use. In the town I live in that is pretty common.

I am afraid my husband will find me hideous after this. He says he won't and never would. But I know that thinking about having no upper teeth and actually not having upper teeth are two different things. What if he can't kiss me anymore or doesn't want to make love every again because he finds me disgusting? Again, he said that would never happen, but I'm still afraid.

I am a vivacious laugher. What if my dentures come out when I laugh and fly across the room (and break)?

What if the dentures make me look worse? As anyone who has struggled with dental issues knows, your teeth are really important to how you see yourself. I had discolored crooked teeth before my crowns. After them I thought I looked so much better. What if dentures make me look like I am 80 years old, my mouth all shriveled and my face sunk in, and just horrible?

What if I am in so much pain I can never eat anything but soft food forever? I know it is a ridiculous thought because I have had plenty of dental work and eat okay now. I can't eat super hard stuff like apples and carrots now, sounds like that won't change.

My dentist said that the biggest issue with getting dentures is mental. He said that if you are mentally and emotionally okay with it then no matter what you will love them. If you aren't mentally prepared it will be really hard.

I thought I was mentally prepared. That I had been mentally preparing for this since I was 19. But maybe I am wrong. I haven't even heard if the insurance will approve it and I cried last night as I tried to sleep. Thinking of that feeling of having my teeth pulled from my head, never to come back. The blood, the pain, the days/weeks/months of healing time. 

I am tempted to see if he is willing to take out the two on top and do a partial. But it would be for the back of them. Has anyone had this? Is it better to just get a full denture on top if I can? I know they would all need to come out eventually. Is it better to just suffer through and do it all at once?

I just need encouragement and support. I am scared. Please tell me that you felt the same way, that you survived being awake and having 8 teeth pulled on one day and that I will be gorgeous after having dentures and won't look older than I am.

Thank you.
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Posted 2 years ago

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Melanie Baker

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Tara I am 40 years old and almost 5 months ago I had 15 upper teeth removed and full upper denture with only local anesthetic I did not feel anything. Like u I was worried about how my husband would look at and think of me after. He loves me and he's still very attracted to me. Lol. And kissing is not a problem as is nothing else. Lol. I know the mental part of this whole journey is prob the worst. And I totally understand what ur going thru. I went thru it also. But I have to say getting the denture has been the best choice I've ever made. My health immediatly got better and now I smile ALL the time. BIG AND PROUD smiles. My best friend told me that she is so so glad to see me smiling and happy again. The healing process for me wasn't that bad at all. Days 3-5 after were the worst and was due to swelling. But from then on its gotten easier every day. I can now eat anything I want and actually have been for couple months now. Also for prob 15 to 20 years I've had to drink from a straw cuz cold things hurt so bad now I haven't used a straw since the day of. Also I can drink my coffee HOT like it should b. Lol. Getting dentures is a very scary process but for most of is so so well worth it. I LOVE my new teeth and I am so glad to not have any painful and infected teeth anymore. I know ur scared and I understand the thought of not having it own teeth is horrible. But just think u can b so much healthier and smile beautifully. This site has totally helped me in so many ways. We r here if u need to talk vent cry anything. I will b thinking of u and hope u have an easy time. Good luck
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Melanie's correct. The majority of this journey, at least for me is mental.
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Melanie Baker

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Oh I am also a very big and loud laugher... No problems there.
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Of course you're scared. So was I.

I'm 49 years old and only had 1 cavity in my life. But I got gum disease and starting losing bone. Paid 4k to have laser treatment done 7 years ago to stop the gum disease but didn't know you had to go for cleanings every 3 months. I only went every 6 months. My teeth are perfectly healthy, was told at one point that they are strong enough to chew nails so it sucks to lose them.

Have had full upper for a week now and a lower partial for 6 months.

I had the 11 uppers pulled last Monday. Only pain I've experienced is where the dentures rubbed and needed to be adjusted. Had to have adjustments last Tuesday and Wednesday then one today. Friday, Saturday and Sunday I drove for Uber all day long without a care.

I'm a big laugher with an uncontrollable huge wide smile. In pictures of me you can count every tooth I have plus get a good look at my tonsils if laughing. I haven't had anything fall out due to laughing, sneezing or coughing. I'll let you know if it ever happens.

I was awake during mine. Paid extra for the conscious sedation but it didn't make me sleep. Only took the edge off. After the numbing shots it was all good. Not fun but no pain.

My husband knows I'm happy with my decision so he's happy for me. Plus I now have some pretty, white, straight teeth. Can't wait to see how much more gorgeous I get when done healing and I get the real denture.

The husband still hasn't seen me without the upper in. I take the lower partial out early in the evening so he sees that all the time but since I'm still healing I keep the uppers in until I go to bed. And they don't bother me so why take them out. I wouldn't care if he wore dentures and he's already told me not to worry so I don't. I have to say we've been married 26 years so that probably helps.

I am thrilled I don't have to worry about when might I get a tooth infection (inevitable), will I need a tooth pulled while out of town and so on. My anxiety about the health of my teeth is now zero. I love it.

This forum has been great support for me. There's a post I will share with you from member named Joseph that offers sound advice and encouragement.

Keep us posted!!
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Tara: Melanie is absolutely correct. For my part, I got tired of my upper partial breaking all the time, and I just had the remaining teeth removed. It was the best decision I could have made. I do understand that this decision to replace natural teeth with dentures is harder on women - especially younger women - than it is on men. But be assured that virtually every man I know would be happy to see that new smile, and we could not care less how it got there. Besides, the right dentist and the right prosthodontist can probably assure you - as I will - that no one is even going to know unless you tell them.

As someone who delayed the inevitable, I would suggest you talk it over with your dentist and do what is in your long-term best interest. For me it was an easy conversation, and I have never regretted it. You'll have some short-term issues as we all do, but the light at the end of the tunnel is not far off. I had about 7 days that I had to endure, but that was it.

Based on what you have said, it would appear you are about in the same boat I was at about the same age. I am immensely happy with my decision. The pain is gone, the smile is back and I am back to my ideal weight. I think I look and feel 10 years younger. At least I think so, and that's really all that matters. I believe you will be pleased, too. I'm inserting a message I sent a couple of months ago that I hope puts a positive spin on all of this. Keep your chin up and good luck to you. Joseph

Here's the message:

Life with Dentures: Who knew that

I could ever get tired of ice cream;

a Ninja blender would be my favorite Christmas present;

my mouth is cleaner than it’s ever been and my breath is fresher;

brushing 3 or 4 times a day would be so enjoyable;

brushing your gums feels wonderful;

tomatoes and apples could be so hard to eat;

I could relearn how to eat so quickly, consequently improving my table manners at home;

eating more slowly means I eat less;

eating less makes my clothes fit again;

taking too many painkillers – even Advil – can mess up a system but good;

my real teeth were my “third hand”;

StainAway makes my teeth look great but bleaches every fabric known to Western man;

smiling frequently lowers my blood pressure;

I would look forward to going back to my dentist;

I would no longer gnaw on my fingernails in a close game;

I would not be self-conscious about wearing dentures;

people I’ll probably never meet or see could help me through such a tough time;

life would be so much better when I take it one bite at a time?


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I just saw you're comment about what the townsfolk might think, maybe it was due to drugs ( even if it was it doesn't matter).

Here would be my options
A) Don't tell them you have dentures, they probably won't even notice
B) Say you knocked your teeth out while doing an incredibly difficult trapeze act when you traveled with the circus (my personal favorite)
C) just don't worry about what others might say or think.

You are taking steps to improve your health. It doesn't matter what the townsfolk think.
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Melanie Baker

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Love the trapeze act idea. Lol. I was worried too about that ppl would think but so far no1 can even tell. The only ppl who know r family and friends who knew what my teeth were like b4
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Margaret: I had all of my upper teeth removed and a few lowers with the last extractions on March 8, 2017. I had an immediate full denture inserted on that day and a lower partial later. No one who is honest will tell you that this will be a walk in the park. And everyone on here understands as well that just because one of us had a good - or bad - experience that that will be what you can expect.

But the odds are greatly in your favor, and the decision to resolve your dental issues will be one of the best decisions you've ever made. A good, compassionate dentist and a highly competent dental lab is essential to a good experience. Mine has been a good one, and I give them great credit for it. I also give credit to the people on here and a couple of friends who had been wearing dentures for years for schooling me on what to expect.

My friends encouraged me when I needed it most, and the people on here - most of them anyway - covered essentially all the blank spots in my education. On the day my full denture was placed, I had developed a list of 10 or 12 questions as a direct result of conversations that had taken place on here. I threw it away after all my questions were answered, but I could probably reconstruct it if I had to. You can easily do the same for your own particular situation. I - and virtually anyone else on here - would be glad to help, but you can do it yourself.

But here a few things I learned in the process. 1) Wearing an upper partial for 30 years helped me tremendously (fewer extractions, better suction from the start because of partially healed gums, staging the 12 extractions on 3 days instead of just one). Almost 4 months later I wear an adhesive only occasionally and have had no relines of my temporary upper denture.

2) Four to six warm salt water rinses each day do wonders.

3) Watch for leukoplakia. Sounds terrible, but those are the white spots that form on your gums when the denture rubs and causes soreness or pain. It's easy for the dentist to resolve, and a good dentist will respond to your needs immediately and as often as you need them to.

4) The value of "Magic Mouthwash" is marginal in my opinion, but I got some. It may have helped a little. Google it and you're find that it's nothing but something like benadryl, Maalox and a mild painkiller. The mix is over the counter.

5) Keep the dentures in at least 24 hours to form a bandage for the wounds. My dentist told me then to remove them at night - every night - forever. I soak them in Stain Away and it works very well. Some people soak them for a short period and sleep in them, but it's a question to ask your dentist. My advice is to take them out at night.

6) After about 10 days most of the wounds should have healed, and that's when I started gently brushing my gums in addition to my remaining teeth. It feels great, your mouth feels clean again and it helps get rid of shards of tooth or bone that are common and gradually work their way to the surface. They can cause some real pain, and there were days early on when I dreaded putting the upper denture in. But that passed fairly quickly.

7) The last teeth were removed on March 8, and I took my last pain reliever on March 15 to give you idea of what you might expect. I had 2 followup meetings with the dentist during the first 2 weeks to address immediate issues like leukoplakia.

8) You will have to eat soft food for a while, and you will have to learn to eat using both sides of your mouth and your tongue. Gradually you will add harder foods to your diet, and I was more or less back to normal within 2 months.

9) There are foods that do give me trouble, and the worst ones are the skins of fruits and vegetables. I simply can't bite into an apple with the temporary denture. As a consequence I have slowed down when I eat, I cut all foods into smaller pieces and I just avoid eating anything that is likely to cause problems. The good news is that I eat much less, I eat fewer snacks and I'm back to my ideal weight.

10) You probably will not have the "bite force" you had with your natural teeth, and you will have to compensate for that. Some of us used our real teeth for a third hand, and that is over for me. We just have to find a way to do things in a different way much as those who lose a limb do. Make no mistake about this: we have suffered amputations of a critically important body part and we all have to retrain ourselves.

11) I do not know your personal circumstances, but I will say this. Do not be self conscious about your dentures. If you have found a good dentist and a good dental lab, no one is going to know unless you tell them. And the good people of this world - the good men and women - want to see a nice smile and the good person behind it, and we could not care less if the teeth are real or the result of good dental work. If anyone you meet or know has a problem with someone wearing dentures, they are not worth spending any time with anyway.

12) Finally, some on here have had a difficult time with their dentures. Most have not. But even they have taken a positive step forward for their long-term health, since bad teeth can cause significant, even life-threatening, problems down the line.

The bottom line for you is this: You've made a good decision for your overall health, the pain soon will be gone, your smile will light up a room again, your self-confidence will improve and, most likely, your waistline will start heading in the right direction. At least mine did. All the best to you. The people on here are behind you 100%.