Healthy Aging

No, They’re Not My Real Teeth

dentures-erica-manfred-senior-planet

I often gaze wistfully at a lovely photo of me at 16 wearing pointy cat-eye glasses. I’m not nostalgic for my pretty young face or the retro glasses. I’m mourning the full set of straight, sparkling teeth. That is the last photo of me with perfect teeth. By age 22 my passport picture shows the same pretty face – but with a snaggle-toothed grin.

I wish I could claim that I took great care of my teeth when I was young, but I didn’t. I chain-smoked (no one knew smoking causes gum disease), and flossing was just too much to ask for a 20-something-year-old who was rebelling against parental strictures. I had what the dentist called “gingivitis,” which got progressively worse. I ignored it.

It wasn’t until I was 40 that my smile improved – but that’s because I spent more money than I could afford getting all my teeth capped.

Before springing for the bridgework, I asked another dentist for a second opinion. He told me flatly, “If you had good teeth and bad gums I’d tell you to have more periodontal work. If you had bad teeth and good gums I’d suggest more bridgework. But you have bad teeth and bad gums, so I don’t know what to tell you.”

I wish he had told me to have all my teeth pulled and get implants back then. But that was not the conservative dental approach, which is always “save the tooth” – at least with patients who have the money for dental work (even if the teeth aren’t worth saving).

“How long will this work last?” I asked my dentist at the time.

“Oh, maybe 15 years,”

The price of “good teeth”

I’d just spent more than $10,000 in 1980 dollars! I dismissed his prediction, thinking I would beat the odds. Fifty-five seemed a long way off and anyway, what were the options? Dentures? No way.

As it turned out, his prediction was optimistic. Those caps started falling apart closer to 10 years later.

Losing teeth is terrifying. The most common anxiety dream is about losing teeth, especially among menopausal women. Makes sense to me. Bad teeth are not only a sign of aging, but a particularly intimate health problem. We kiss, eat and smile with our mouths.It’s easier to admit we have a hip replacement than a denture.

Despite 25 years of drilling, root canals, caps and bridges, periodontal slicing and dicing and countless days and nights of swollen-faced misery, my teeth progressively worsened. I eventually wound up with partial dentures that were studded with more and more false teeth. My life in the chair was excruciating—more in the pocketbook than in the mouth. Having to spend every spare penny on my teeth rather than on a new car, a vacation or even clothes that didn’t come from thrift shops was truly painful.

Not my mother’s dentures: the overdenture

Eventually I did wind up with full dentures at 60. Thank goodness by the time I lost all my teeth, new technology had come up with a better denture. Called overdentures, they snap onto a few implants and are smaller, more comfortable and much more functional than the old-fashioned type. They’re more affordable, too, though far from cheap. However, you still have to remove them.

I take out my dentures at night (at least when I’m alone) and put them back in every morning. Without them, I’m embarrassed about the way my cheeks collapse and afraid the strange metal protuberances coming out of my mouth might frighten small children.

Nevertheless, I must admit that I love my overdentures. The freedom from pain, constant expense and hours in that least relaxing of reclining chairs is liberating.

Calling all denture deniers

It’s time for us denture wearers to come out of the closet. Twenty-five percent of seniors 65-plus have lost all their teeth, and half of all Americans ages 55 to 64 have either full or partial dentures. The percentage rises steadily with age – but you wouldn’t know it, because we all hide it. I’m tired of being terrified to be seen without my false teeth. When I have to leave my denture overnight at the dentist’s office to be sent to the lab for repairs, I hide out at home until the next day when I can pick it up. I don’t even answer the doorbell. After I got divorced 10 years ago I did a lot of dating and always worried that I’d be outed as a denture wearer during a kiss. To my immense relief that never happened.

Like cancer victims who boldly take off their wigs to display their bald heads, I want to stop being ashamed of my toothlessness.

The last time my daughter stayed over, I experimented with toughing it out and left the dentures in their container in the bathroom overnight. I said goodnight to her without them in.

She didn’t even notice.

Are you a secret denture wearer? Would you dare to come out of the closet?

COMMENTS

49 responses to “No, They’re Not My Real Teeth

  1. COULD SOMEONE WHO LIVES IN NYC RECOMMEND A COMPETENT AND TRUSTWORTHY PROSTHODONTIST PLEASE?

    Hello Erika and again thank you for breaking this taboo for us! I hope someone here could help me please?:

    For the last few months my gums are sore and causing ulcers on them. To relieve them I have to stop wearing them and must grind all food to a pulp before I can again eat normally with them. And so the vicious circle goes on…No doubt they need to be fixed or replaced but…my dentist of decades has retired and my search for a competent prosthodontist had no luck, but meanwhile I have to pay consultation fee to each of them (2 already)… :(

    I do hope someone who happens to live in NYC could recommend a competent and trustworthy prosthodontist? They say “word of mouth” works best! It may be a little more complicated as I may have a problem also with my bridge holding the lower partial…

    I anticipate my deep thanks for any help with a recommendation. :o)

    1. I’m 51, never lost a tooth and just had to have my bottom 4 front teeth pulled because of periodontal disease. It was horrific and i passed out in the hall outside the dentists office afterwards. I know I’ll lose more down the road. Hopefully it gets better and I’ll be able to look at myself in the mirror when i get my partial. Ironically I got good dental insurance just in time to lose my teeth

    2. i have not had any dental issues that were life threatening, like cant eat ,no smile at jobs . i must have dentures asap .had a consultation and xrays and dental office made my impressions, but the price w insurance is still a bit too much ,and now that hope i had is fading of living great and feeling confident.
      need Anderson sc area help. advice, im 57,and wish to enjoy life fully, not hiding again, wasting hope it seems ..

    3. Have root tips getting infected have to come out soon trying to buy some time antibiotics have destroyed my gut does anyone have suggestions for how to keep my infection down without antibiotics?

  2. I am 36 (not a senior yet) and have never had pretty teeth. I had been to many dentists over the years with no game plan to help me. They did not want to pull my “good” teeth because I was so young, but had no idea how to help me. Last week I got my last remaining 19 teeth pulled and have 8 implants (4 activated right now, that have had 4 months to heal) holding in my dentures. Top and bottom full set. I am scared…I have to take them out and clean them nightly and the pain has been so bad sleeping that I have left them out at night for my gums to heal better. My husband has been so supportive, but I can’t help but feel embraced and like less of a person when I look at myself toothless in the mirror. I cry a lot and wonder if I have made the right choice. I am still healing, learning to talk and ear again. I was 100% sure this was what I wanted, did research for years and watched other people’s stories. I never knew it was going to be this hard and emotional for me. Hopefully I will get used to it over time.

    1. I know this is years old but we have a similar age and story. I’m thinking of getting snap ons done.
      Have you adjusted? Would you do it again? What advice would you give, please?
      Thanks so much. It’s really hard getting actual info and not sales pitches.

  3. Growing up I never had the proper dental care that I needed.
    Remembering going to a dentist once when I was 7
    Following that, around the age of 16 had a huge cavity in between my front teeth. That was the start of it.
    Had joined the military when I graduated highschool that following year and some of the issues were fixed.
    By the age of 29 had applied for a care credit card and spent over$17,000.00 on bridge work post cores and crowns.
    Decided to join the state college in my home town for the dental assistant program and graduated. Few years down the road all of the work was either breaking off or falling out. I just cried, because there wss no way that I could afford to fix these darn teeth again, even with being a dental assistant.
    At the young age of 36 had all of my teeth pulled by Affordable Dentures.
    It was the worst experience ever!
    Cried for days with pain and hated how I looked..
    The darn things would not stay in, no matter what adhesive I used.
    I decided to make my own adhesive, out of something that is similar to Cushion Grip. Cushion Grip was a thermoplastic denture adhesive and is no longer sold.
    Worked day and night on figuring out how to make a strong padding, like how the Dr Scholl for feet.
    Finally, figured it out and wear it everyday.
    I hate my dentures, but atleast they stay in now.
    Before, I couldn’t even sneeze without my dentures flying out of my mouth.
    It’s been a rough ride and I made it.
    Atleast, there will be no more sleepless nights with a tooth ache.
    If anyone wants to try my product, I have a website called comfortlining

    Thank you all for these wonderful posts.

    Jenn

  4. Growing up, my mother made sure I had dental cleanings every 6 months. I had braces and had to have my eye teeth pulled to make room (mouth was too small for the 4 teeth). I also had my wisdom teeth extracted at age 16. My brother and I had to use a water pick with braces and afterwards we had to floss twice a day when we brushed with Crest toothpaste. What the dentist and orthodontist said, my mother made sure we did!
    When I was 20, I got a cavity (take a deep breath and sigh because how on earth could that happen?) The dentist told my mother it was from not flossing enough and I was busted, and grounded! You bet I flossed after that!
    In my 20s my gums would bleed and they had started to recess. By the time I was 30 my dentist told me I had gum disease and could not have my teeth cleaned, only polished (due to pain). Not sure what he was up to but up until last November when my teeth were extracted, I had heard from different dentists, “You have gum disease”. “You don’t have gum disease”. I just got fillings and no dentist ever treated the gum disease.
    At the exact age that my mother lost her teeth and got dentures a dentist decided to save mine. Luckily it was at a dental school and cost me little to nothing. But the recession hit and the clinic was no longer funded and I was out. I am disabled and on Medicare and medicaid and I remember when they took out dental. I couldn’t believe it. Unhealthy teeth lead to an unhealthy body.
    So, I had to wait. My husband got dentures 6 years ago and in this society, men can practically be pigs and nobody judges them and they don’t judge their own looks to much but we women think we are so ugly even if we do look perfect! So, I completely lost it after my extractions. I got temporary dentures that cost $1,000 that were put in immediately after my gums were sewn up. What a mess!!!
    They are of poor material and your gums shrink so quickly that it feels like you are wearing 2 bricks in your mouth. I don’t recommend spending the money on them unless you are like me and most-to insecure to wait for the permanent dentures. (These is a plus…I chose the color of the teeth and I loved the shape so they were a great mold for my now permanent one’s). I even chose a few shades lighter.
    I am on day 3 of the permanent one’s. They don’t feel like bricks! So happy! They do hurt, the gums need to adjust. I am wearing no adhesive and my dentist has been fantastic about helping me adjust to both sets of teeth.
    1) Dentures are great for speech and cosmetics. They are a replacement for NO teeth. They are NOT teeth!
    2) For speech, read a book out loud to work on speech. Read softly.
    3) Eat evenly on both sides of your mouth at all times. Start slowly with soft food.
    4) Avoid adhesives and get used to the denture.
    He even took my temporary one’s hostage from me! I can’t have them back until I am doing well with the permanent one’s. No going back! When I am doing well, I can have them to put in the freezer as back up. But I can’t imagine wearing them again. These are sharp, these have color in the acrylic gums that look like veins. Even my dentist is shocked that they look natural-they don’t look like dentures. It is so much better than having all your teeth have gum line cavities-just like your mother. Do I miss my teeth? Yes, only for eating. But my husband can eat steak (and fast) with his teeth. He eats everything now. I am vegan so no meat issues here.
    In many cultures, no teeth are expected with age. They don’t get dentures and they smile like crazy! I did that to my daughter and she laughed so hard for 15 minutes. It was wonderful! I looked so different but hey-we need to stand up and say THIS IS OKAY!!!!
    BTW-I am 55 years old. And I can gnaw on so much now with my gums. Hubby and I are in the same boat so now he feels more secure and loves me smiling-even without teeth! Nothing to hide and bad teeth are awful!
    Best to all!!! We can do this!!!

    1. I am a full denture user and proud of it! In my youth, I was given a drug that impacted the appearance and quality of my teeth. By 17, my family dentist suggested they be removed. Unfortunately, he had a stroke, sold his practice and the dentists I had from that point forward followed the the practice “there are no bad teeth”. It took years before I found a dentist willing to remove my remaining 19 teeth and give me dentures I celebrate every May 3rd, the date I became edentulist. Having dentures has been a blessing and I never consider them a problem. I eat everything I want and speak without difficulty. But even better, I have no shame if seen without them. I’m just a person without teeth, no different than any other person who has a physical defect. I hope this positive review helps anyone who needs extractions.

    2. I can’t tell you all how grateful that I am to have found this place and that your comments lift me up! I am 56 and loosing my teeth. Not because of bad hygiene, but primarily because of gum surgery as well as gum disease from (smoking?) and enormous stress. The final straw was when I lost my son a year ago. My hair is thinning and my teeth continue to fall out. I KNOW that I need dentures…now I just need to find the means (financially) to make that happen. I was always told that I was gorgeous. Yikes! Those days are OVER! sigh : ( Since then, I have quit smoking and I am loving learning about healthy eating, staying away from the GMO’s etc and detoxing.Thanks again to all of you for taking the time to share and for being brutally honest in a public forum!!!

    3. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with your dentures. We are about the same age and I cannot tell you how our stories are so similar. It is good to know that your permanent dentures are so much better than the temporary ones. I had the remaining 10 upper teeth pulled this past December. I crack jokes about it because I have been an emotional wreck!! Everybody have been so supportive even when a looked like Wendy Lou from the Grinch who Stole Christmas! I have laughed but it always ended with tears. I don’t really regret doing it because my Mom had worn dentures for more than 40 yrs…And after reading your post I do feel so much better and certainly not alone. God Bless

  5. I once had beautiful teeth and I loved to smile. I started having issues with my gums about twenty years ago. I would go to the dentist and have scaling done and my gum health would improve for awhile.

    When I started having gum issues again I thought that if I am willing to spend the money that I would get things repaired. However, due to other stressful things going on in my life, I waited about seeking treatment.

    Now it appears I may have to get full dentures since there is not bone left to get any implants and the bone loss may be so severe that a bone graft may not work. I was shocked that things were so bad because I did not have much pain.

    To say I am disappointed in myself is an understatement. I am really depressed.

    Has anyone else found a way to deal with the feelings of despair? And the self~loathing? Most people think I am really a happy person but I wonder how I am going to bounce back from this.

    Thank you.

    1. Unless you’ve been going to this dentist for a while and trust him/her, I’d suggest getting a second opinion if you can. Your dentist may be right, but before taking a major step like a possible bone graft or full dentures, I’d want to be as sure as I could be that I was doing the right thing at a cost I could (somewhat) afford. I have gum issues as well, but for the time being they’re under control. Although I’m a true dental phobic, I now go to the dentist every 3-4 months and am totally committed not only to brushing but to flossing EVERY night (which I wasn’t in my younger years). I’m hoping to avoid or at least postpone dent-apocalypse.

      My spouse has partial dentures and has for years. He’s totally used to them and finds them only a minor nuisance.

    2. Hi Dear. I empathize 120% with your feelings. I once had beautiful teeth. Due to a chronic bone and blood disorder I had them all removed at age 38 and wore dentures for over a decade no issue. Prior to that it was years of my life in pain, in dental chairs, root canal after root canal etc.
      When I first got my dentures I was overjoyed! No pain, no embarrassment etc. I am 58 now and am considering implants. I did not know then about bones loss and implants were well beyond my financial capacity. Chronic illness takes time and lots of money away form your life but I am intolerably positive person so life goes on.
      I have researched implants for years and these days the options and techniques are stupendous!
      Bone grafts are now done with mineralized bone in a bottle, no more cutting off bits of other bones.
      Seek a second opinion for a dental implant specialist or a member of the AAID. american academy of implant denistry
      Though all dentists can do implants, many should not.

      After all this time I have a lot fo good bone left and I went to a specialists and we took a cat scan and bone density scan of my jaw. A special pari of teeth were made for this scan using barium. You wear these white barium teeth for the scan and ti shows an amazingly accurate depiction of density, size and health of your jaw.
      In addition, the dentist using a locator on his computer and this is vital. If your dentist isn’t using it run!
      The technology is awesome

      I have delta dental premier coverage and the coverage is good. A lot of dental companies have a certain amount they cover each year which renews in january. so consider having one arch done one year and the next one the next year. It takes 2-3 months from surgery to heal so you could have one in December.

      All this being said I am still anxious to have my done next month

      Yes, I often feel less of a woman and now that I am 58 I feel old and many days sad and ugly blah blah blah
      but then I remember i have lived a long time with an illness that take out most in a decade so technically 40 years over my expiration date as diagnosed
      at age 16.
      It sound silly but take time to mourn the loss of your teeth. Its a dreadful emotional journey and it requires attention and respect. I mourned for all else I lost due to illness, missed opportunities, partners that fled missed education … but I am 58 alive and loved.
      Be brave, take heart, all in the body fades but the heart and soul remain. Seek out dental coverage and payment plans. You can do it. Smile big! and live largely!

      1. Can I ask why you are now choosing to get implants? What are you not happy about with your dentures? You mentioned you didn’t have pain or empress,ent with your dentures.

  6. In my experience, I’ve noticed that people are quite reluctant to get dentures. This might be because of the cost or from wanting to keep their teeth how they are, even if they don’t look that great. If I was having tooth problems or had to get some removed, I’d probably opt for dentures or implants at some time or another. You are very right that losing teeth is pretty scary, especially when you know that there’s nothing you can do about them.

  7. I have read everything,about 25 yrs ago I had a lot of dental work done,crowns ,fillings pulled,and a 4 tooth front fixed bridge,but because I never went back the 2 teeth under the bridge decayed and the bridge came loose,I went back to the dentist and because of the condition of my other teeth I have to get a removeable front partial,it will have 4 teeth front and 1 on each side,The thing is I get these
    panic disorders and anxiety attacks everyday.I have had the cleanings and the impressions,but now I have to go back get the 2 bad teeth pulled under the bridge and get my partial put in.I am so so terrified,dont know what it will look like or if I will get used to it,I to have read horror storries and looked on the web which my sister said I should not do because makes it worse..OH another thing the dentist that this was just a temporary that the permanant would be in about 6-8 weeks but would cost another 2300.00,One she never told me that,when I went to her she said that it would be 1500.00 for the partial and impressions,nothing about the extra cost.I already laid out over 2100.00 after this last visit. What is the difference between a temporay and a permanent,will I be able to use them a while.cause I can never get 2300.00 together.Also do partials sit far back on the pallet or closer to the gum line.I am so scared.

    1. Hello,
      I would like to know hoe is you teeth situation going on. I traveled abroad and got upper/ bottom from implants 11 years ago. Now the bottom one are giving me problems. I am currently waiting to save atlas 3k to visit a dentist. I know I will need triple this amount by the end. I would like to know how are you dong with your dentures. Any advise, info please.

    2. I have a permanent partials on top and a removable partial on the bottom, now that i am older and have gone through so much with dentists i am thinking i prefer removable because i believe they are more hygienic….the permanent ones on top require a great dean of fussing to keep other teeth around them clean and not decay.
      My friends are so against removable dentures and partials that they go through dangerous and painful procedures to avoid them. I might consider an implant or two for dentures and partial dentures to stay but no more of the other procedures that also cost thousands of dollars.
      i appreciate some comments on this topic, i agree that when one gets older, who cares anyways and it isn’t necessary to let other people know since the work that is done today is so good that no one can tell. It’s probable a lot better for one’s health too.
      MC

  8. Soon after I was born, my parents listened to the pediatrician who provided “iron” shots for the first 7 years of my life. Then the next 6, I was given 2 tablespoons of “Geritol” daily. The result was malformed permanent teeth that were too soft. In December of 1964, for the 28 teeth I had (wisdom teeth did not form), I had 52 cavities despite having active dental care. I’ll spare you the post WWII educated dentists belief that every tooth should be saved despite my pain and request for extraction. I had to wait till I was 60.

    Now I have dentures and a great smile, dentures that fit very well which should lead you to believe I’ve achieved success. WRONG As strange as it may seem, I prefer to be without my dentures whenever possible. My family doctor explained it to me as follows: I was embarrassed all of my life with bad teeth. I didn’t smile. I just longed for my teeth to be gone. Within a year of being teeth free, I started to stop using them more and more (yes I always used them to eat and for business meetings). My doctor believes as I do know, that I am so confident in myself the need to have dentures is not required so I go about life as much as I can sans dentures. No embarrassment if I’m seen this way. Am I not the same person with or without denture? So let’s not worry if a piece of plastic is in your mouth or not. I’m still me!!

  9. Thank you sooo much Erica!! You have no idea how much i needed to hear your story! I’ve been lost and feel hopeless because not only in this society, people are hateful and think you have to be, in their perspective “beautiful” or have the “prefect body” to be excepted. And it’s really hard for me to go through this at my age or any age in my opinion. I just turned 21 in june. I lost all my top teeth when I was 16, I was crossing the road and a woman ran me over with her car and kept going(honestly, I don’t think she saw me or she was too afraid to stop afterwards). My left leg’s Tibia snapped in half and now I have a Titanium rod inserted while most of my top teeth and some of my bottom teeth were damaged. And a dentist in OK put me under and he took out all my top teeth and stitched them up. I got my upper 3 months later. About two years ago, my bottom teeth were getting worse and i didn’t have a job nor anyone who would help me pay the costs. And a couple weeks ago I got half of my bottom teeth removed and then the other half a month later, because of the dentist’s protocols. Well they’re half way healed up as of this moment and I’ve been trying to get a hold of this affordable denture place but they have yet to answer. I’m kind of scared because I’ve heard some awful and miserable stories about getting the lower denture. I’ve never heard of overdentures before, I really hope they are cheaper than getting a separate top and bottom!(I don’t think i could stand the dentures that the top and bottom are connected) I wouldn’t wish loss of teeth on anyone, but it would sure be nice if i had a friend who had dentures that I could talk to, because I don’t know anyone with any.

    1. Oh Maia, poor baby!!! I hope that by now you’ve learned about the implants. For a young person, implants are the thing!!! If you haven’t yet, please start learning all about them. My best bet would be to start at your state universities to learn all about them and then, if you don’t wish to have them do them, move to private doctors and/or clinics to learn more about them and then decide where to go for them.

      I’m very surprised you didn’t mention that you will have implants. I wish I could have them myself but my gums are too thin and too shrank and at my advanced age (5th age?) there’s no hope other than dentures. They were beautifully done and all but it’s a pain as every few years they must be redone, they start loosening hence soreness of the gums, etc.

      Please give us the great news that you’ll go right away to have implants! :o)

  10. This is a great article! As you suggest, we often perceive a greater stigma against dentures than there actually is. Most people simply won’t notice! False teeth are the right answer for some people, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. You’re so right in saying you shouldn’t be ashamed anymore.

      1. Hi Ellie, how do I know my gums are thin and shrinking? Although I was extremely lucky to have a very competent and conscientious dentist taking care of my dental needs for years and finally making the excellent dentures (top only, lower partial)…I felt some soreness on eating as the gums kept their recession inexorably going.

        My dentist used to tell me they were too thin and offered some adherent but I declined as I felt repulsion to it. At one point I wanted to get 2nd and 3rd opinions and these dentists also mentioned the thinness of my gums. Of course if we add the fact I have osteoporosis…the picture is now complete.

        Many years ago I considered implants of course after reading about it. So I consulted several dentists, including the NYU College of Dentistry, and while waiting for my turn I’d ask the other patients there whether they had them and how they were. Many of their answers were not positive. I recall especially one person who told me they moved and hurt her so much they had to remove them and now she was in the process of replacing them…for the 3rd time!!! These experiences of course showed me implants definitely weren’t for me.

        However, I celebrate for those who do get them successfully as it HAS

  11. Thanks for writing this informative article, Erica. My mother’s teeth are starting to become old and frigid. I’ve been looking into getting her dentures, but I don’t want her to feel ostracized for wearing them. I hope that society will change and become more adaptive and supportive of seniors wearing dentures.

    Alex Jennings

  12. I really appreciate you sharing your story. It must’ve been really hard losing all of your teeth at such a young age. I’m sure you felt so insecure. I definitely know your pain, though. I started losing my teeth a few years ago. It’s been really hard feeling like I can’t show off my smile anymore. Have you thought about getting dentures? I’m pretty sure I’m going to get them.

  13. Although I neglected my teeth abysmally in my youth, I’ve been lucky in that I still have most of them at 78; no implants, no dentures yet–and I hope never. I’m a dental-phobic and there’s just no way! I drank a lot of milk as a child, and maybe all that calcium helped.

    We have dental insurance through AARP. While it’s not cheap, it isn’t horribly expensive either, when one considers the cost of dental work. I pay just over $75/month for my husband and myself. It has definitely helped pay for both routine care and the occasional larger expense.

    With current research supporting the finding that oral health goes hand in hand with overall health (including the heart), there has to be some way for more older Americans to afford dental care. Even with insurance, if I were confronted with a $30K estimate for dental work, I’d have to pass and make do somehow. Few middle income retirees have that kind of “spare” change lying around these days!

  14. I thought I had written that piece because at age 71 – my teeth are leaving my head a little at a time…they are breaking down and I am breaking up with them. I live with less teeth and since money and no dental insurance are an issue, I am smiling less and staying home more.
    I am so caught up in financial woes that I have accepted the fact that old age and no teeth and no hair – in my case – is what it is. I am looking actively for help with real estate taxes for 2015 because finding a spare 3 grand is very much needed to stay in my house – with or without teeth. OYE GEVALD!!!

    1. About your property taxes: call the assessors office for your area and ask about senior tax discounts. usually you can get a specal rate (depending on your income ) and the value frozen. this is usually true for the disabled as well

  15. I’ve been out of the closet since an upper partial was fitted in my 70s, and a lower partial a few years later. I hate both.

    They are the first things removed right after my shoes when I return home. But I also sometimes forget to wear them out if I’m not going anywhere special. Family and friends know because I make no secret of my irritation. The reason:

    First, the upper, if not properly positioned as it rests on my palate, affects my speech. Second, with a later lower in place, the pleasures of dining are reduced because of the restriction on chewing anything firmer than a hamburger. {Try eating corn on the cob, or a raw carrot.) Put me in the “keep your natural teeth as long as you can” camp.

    About implants, be wary. They are not cheap. Keep in mind that as you age, bone loss will loosen teeth–implant and natural. That’s what happened to me with the lower partial especially. At 82, a couple of teeth have since said bye bye, and I’ll be needing a new lower or repair.

    Dental plans where you pay a low monthly or yearly amount and receive a considerable discount in services from normal rates are available. The impact of recent dental-medical changes are not taken into account in my now dated information. Google, et al, and yelp should give you some ideas. Some dentists/dental groups may have their own plans. One’s own dentist might know.

    Erica, As an avid follower of your tech columns–the main reason I subscribe to Senior Planet–I look forward to your further comments on the current subject.

      1. The inhospitable non-enamels grinding on other teeth in the chewing process disturbs me more than instability, which can always be remedied with adhesive. A gold crown was the only alien object placed in my mouth that could be ignored and forgotten for many years. Alas, the partial upper came between us after a separation in my 70s.

        Overdentures were unknown to me until you wrote about them, so I did a quick and dirty search. I read little that made me want to run out to find a dentist. It relies on implants and i’m still not sure how it’s set up. My main problem is that my mouth is not inclined to play host to alien appliances. For now, my priority is to find a trustworthy and competent dentist i can afford.

  16. My experience is similar.
    I have always been deathly afraid of dentists since a butcher drilled my tongue, sending me to the hospital, when I was 6 years old.
    At age 39 I had over $28,000 of dental work done – caps, bridges etc (with some inherited money) and the dentist used laughing gas which I could the afford; but no one told me the work would last only a few years. (This was the late 80s and they did not yet do implants.) The money was gone when the caps started falling off (and I swallowed one!) and I could not afford to get another bridge when one fell out of my mouth while I was sailing and it was lost. (I did not even know it was loose!)
    My husband got false teeth a few years ago. He seems happy with them, as he had terrible looking teeth prior to getting them. (We always suspected his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam). The fact that my front teeth have always been good, so cosmetically I did not care, plus my horror of the pain plus lack of money has made my mouth a mess and I have only one tooth to chew with now. The front teeth still look decent and hide the fact that I cannot really eat anything but soft foods.
    So I am trying my best to get ready to go into my retirement by getting the remainder of my ‘stubs’ removed and even the front teeth, which I am sure are too soft to have anything attached to them. I am petrified of the recovery period, even if I am anaethetized during the procedure.

  17. I, too have had bad teeth all of my life. At age 74, I am missing most of my upper front teeth and wear a removable partial because I couldn’t afford implants for an overdenture. Luckily, I have an old version that I stick in my mouth when my partial has to be left for repairs. I live with my daughter and her family and often walk around the house sans partial. I started to do that at one point when I had sore gums. They all got used to seeing me that way and now it’s no big deal. Even my young grandson got used to seeing me that way. It occurred to me that having me around sans teeth, make-up, and coiffed hair has given my grandson a chance to understand what it really is like to grow old. He’s developed wonderful patience and understand for folks who are not as quick as he is. Of course, I never go out in public without my teeth.

  18. I desperately need dentures but can’t afford them. I am also afraid of them as I don’t like anything across the roof of my mouth. The clinic I went to said they could make one for me but it would go across that area. Since then I had a tooth break that is very visible. The implant with over bridge sounds like it might work for me. Now I have to find someone to do the work inexpensively.

  19. Very brave of you to discuss this. I’m 64 and I too have had a terrible life with my teeth and now will be getting some implants. So far, I am resisting dentures because I am also a cancer survivor and because of a lot of radiation treatments, I have permanently lost my hair! 15 years of hats and wigs is NO fun and the last thing I want to do is also end up removing my wig AND taking out my teeth!! Not exactly sexy! Getting old sucks.
    Trying to find the bright side of life!!

  20. Thank you for your courage in disclosing this, Erica. I had 11 teeth knocked out in an automobile accident at age 34 (the one that almost killed me, smashed my whole face, and wrecked one foot and ankle — and yes, I was seat belted or I would not have lived to tell the story).

    I’ve had every kind of dental work since then — removable dentures, fixed dentures, and now a combination of implants and fixed. I’m happy that we’re living in an age where we can get a pretty smile at any age, after any circumstances, even if that smile comes at a huge monetary investment.

    1. Glad I could be encouraging on this issue. I hope to write soon about how to deal with the issue of affording dental work, especially implants. Anna, overdentures are the way to go. Since you’re in New York try to get them at NYU Dental School

      1. This is good information…thank you for sharing. I am fortunate my teeth are still stuck well into my gums and I show no sign of gum disease. However, for lack of good dental over the years I had teeth pulled instead of repaired. Big regrets here! I wish there was affordable dental insurance programs for everyone, not just the few. Perhaps one day soon this will be possible. I am thinking of having two implants to where I had teeth pulled, or maybe a bridge. Does anyone have any advice on what is best?

      2. Hello and thank you for opening up to us Erica! My experience was very similar to yours. But in my case implants don’t work on my very thin and shrunk gums, so I have to sweat it out with plain dentures. True, I was lucky to have had a most competent and conscientious dentist (retired now and back to teach at NYU) who refused to extract my few front lower teeth so I could have a partial, which is better than whole, but my uppers are whole. Yet plain dentures not the best from many points of view… :o(

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