Retired New York school superintendent Richard Varriale knows how to get the job done. When one of his upper molars was pulled after it had become re-infected years after root canal therapy, Richard could tell right away that leaving an empty space in his mouth would not be a good idea for the long term.
“It was a little harder to eat,” he said, of the few months when he was missing the tooth. “Anything that involved heavy chewing I had to eat on the other side. It seemed to me I was getting some kind of ache or pain on the other side of my mouth, perhaps from chewing unevenly.”
Guidance from an expert
Richard, then 76, discussed his options with Shankar Iyer, D.D.S., M.D.S., FAAID, DABOI/ID, in Elizabeth, N.J., an AAID credentialed implant dentist. Richard chose to have the tooth restored with a dental implant and a single crown, rather than a bridge that would attach to his adjacent natural teeth or a partial denture that would not feel as comfortable.
“It was a simpler, cleaner, more finite solution,” Richard explained. “And I didn't want to involve other teeth. Tooth-supported bridgework would have involved cutting down and latching a bridge onto my other teeth.”
Dr. Iyer handled all steps involved in placing the dental implant and restoring the tooth, a procedure which exceeded Richard’s expectations. “I assumed there would be some pain and to my surprise – really, it was amazing – there was no pain other than the pinprick of the anesthetic into the gum. There hasn't been a single problem or headache involved,” he said.
Before and after: A world of difference
The new tooth has been in place since mid-2010. Richard says it’s difficult to compare before and after because of the enormous difference.
“The circumstances are so changed,” he said. “I now have a full, equally balanced bite; I can chew on whatever I want, on either side. It feels perfectly natural and there isn't a worry of over-use of one side of my teeth. It feels as though there’s a whole set of new teeth though it's really only one. It’s just perfect.”
Richard says he would recommend dental implants to others, with one caveat: “IF you find the right dentist to do it. You want to be sure that you're getting a competent dentist who is trained in the procedure. You want to make sure you're confident in the doctor you use.”