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Healthy Aging

Your Teeth: New and Improved

By Sheryl Kraft

Created: 06/12/2012
Last Updated: 05/21/2019

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Whenever I go to the dentist and he tells me to open wide, I ask him the same question: "Do you see it?"

"See what?" he counters.

"The Porsche."

A few seconds pass before he remembers my line from the last time and slowly nods, smiling in a way that hints at a combination of compassion and smugness (my loss is his gain, after all).

Teeth. They're expensive. Mine sure are. If I took all the money spent on various procedures over the years—orthodontia, fillings, wisdom teeth extractions, root canals, crowns, repairs and now, dental implants—I could have owned my dream car.

But it's not to be.

And if someone had told me 20 years ago that we could "grow" artificial teeth, I would have told them they were dreaming. But here am I, the lucky(?) recipient of yet another dental implant—my third, to be exact. People get old, teeth get old, and my old, weakened tooth cracked and needed to be extracted.

Enter a new and improved version (and my plea to be kind to your teeth).

They're pretty amazing, these implants. The procedure replaces damaged or missing teeth with artificial ones that can look and function almost like the real things. The implant, made of titanium, is surgically placed in your jawbone, eventually fusing to function like a real tooth, where it serves as the root of a missing tooth. It's a welcome alternative to bridgework or dentures, which can shift, make noise and require everyday maintenance.

Dental implants are time-consuming, because they are done in stages and involve several procedures. The success or timing (or both) is dependent, too, on the general condition and health of your bone, since it has to be vital enough to heal tightly around the implant (if it's not, you may need a bone grafting procedure first). Implants are expensive and painful at first, but in the end, if all goes well, you end up with something resembling and acting as close to a real tooth as you can get. You can read more detail about the procedure here.

Sound exhausting? Granted, there are a lot of steps and care involved. But then I think back to some pretty vivid childhood memories of sleeping at my grandparents' house and waking each morning to the sight of false teeth floating in plastic bowls of bluish antiseptic-smelling liquid. I always worried I'd accidentally knock those bowls over, sending the choppers crashing to the floor as I brushed my own (then-healthy) teeth. Though those false teeth never did get knocked over, who would think that years later, my own would get knocked out … and then replaced with titanium wonders?

By the way, the day I came home from my dental surgery, there was a nice surprise waiting for me (no, not flowers from my dentist). The folks at Garden Lites sent me a boxful of delicious frozen vegetable soufflés to sample. I loved the serendipitous timing of it all, since I could barely chew and had to be on a soft diet for an indefinite time. I was thrilled that despite not being able to enjoy my nightly salads, I could at least get my share of veggies. I popped the small, individually sized butternut squash soufflé into the microwave and happily indulged, able to scarf down some valuable nutrients despite the fact my mouth was pretty much off-limits.

The soufflés come in nine gluten-free, vegetarian and Kosher varieties, among them pizza, broccoli and roasted vegetable. They're 200 calories or less for the entire soufflé and are perfect for a light meal or hearty snack.

Or as a way to end the day in a nicer way than you started it.

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My friend told me about Garden Lites a while ago, but I've only just found them in a supermarket near me. What flavor did you like best?


I got an implant last year. The actual surgery for the implant is scary b/c you are awake while they drill into your bone. And it is sore for a while. And it does take forever because first you get the tooth removed, then you get the implant, then you finally get the fake tooth put on the post. It took me about 9 months from start to finish which is a really long time. But now there is no pain there at all.

Serendipitously, I am on a trial gluten-free diet and would love to win!

I found the Garden Lites souffles to be very tasty, too. I particularly like the pizza one! Hope your tooth feels better.

Sorry you had to go through dental surgery, but you're right, our oral health is very important to our overall health. The Garden Lites sound delicious, thanks for offering a giveaway!

These sound great! I am always looking for g-free fare that's ready to go. And, congrats on your new smile.

Healthy Teeth are so important to all round good health! I love the Garden Lites Gluten Free Soufles!!

Just found out about Garden Lites and I would love to try them. I have read to many good things about them.

I just found out about Garden Lites and they sound delicious and I would love to try them. I have read so many great comments about them.

They look fantastic! I am trying to convince my husband and son to eat more vegetables and less meat and these dishes might do the trick, esp. when they eat when I'm not home.

Hope this does get your loved ones to eat more veggies - it's sure a good and tasty way to do it!

Dental implants sound wonderful :) but Garden Lites will sure work!!

I have only been able to find the butternut, broccoli and roasted vegetable varities. Would love to find pizza. Sounds Yumm!

I have my first appointment with a new dentist this Friday. I usually look forward to my dentist, but due to a switch in insurance I had to change. I hoping I like this one.

Also, I love Garden Lites; gluten free, high protein, low calories; my perfect food.

Although I've yet to sample them all, so far the stand-out is the butternut squash. Yum!!

Love that you wrote about this. Dental work is probably going to put me in the poor house. That and the upkeep on my car.

I Just am in the midst of my own implant procedure. Thanks for the good-hearted laughs!

So far, my teeth are holding up. The idea of implants skeeves me, but then dentures or partials do too.

I would welcome you to the tooth implant club, but you're ahead of me 3-to-1. Yes, it's amazing, but good lord, it's expensive.

This is one race I'd rather not be leading in, Ruth! :)

I am so afraid that this will be mee soon enough. I'm only 25 and I have a ton of issues with my teeth. I have very soft teeth and I have had so many cavities filled, and I have chipped teeth and rotting teeth. It's a nightmare in my mouth... and I brush twice a day and I don't eat sugary sweets or drink soda! Ahh!
On an unrelated note I would love to win some delicious Garden Lites!!!

Sounds like you did not win the tooth lottery. At least you are taking care of them - that's a good thing. Hopefully your teeth will pay you back and behave!

I had no idea that crowns only last 40 years. Since I got mine after having my kids, and I had children young, that means that I'm in the same boat: implant time! My first operation, they ground down the bone. It really hurt for days afterwards. Now I go to a massage therapist before the operation, which no longer involves grinding bone, and I have not felt any pain afterwards. She does cranial-sacral work on me. So, my tally is two implants so far, or is it three? And the spaces for three more implants are already ready and waiting for me to be able to afford them. Porsche? My mouth is a Porsche and a Cadillac.

Two cars? Isn't it a shame how high the cost is to restore our mouths? Sorry you are going through so much dental work. I can sympathize completely.

Garden Lites are yummy, healthy but sometimes hard to find. I would love to try all their flavors!

Try looking for a store locator on their website; hopefully you'll have some luck. (There's a "find us" in the menu bar).

I'm so glad I don't need a dental implant but I'm glad it's available in case I do. High-tech teeth definitely beat the falsies my Grandmother still wears (and to think, she's had the same set for 30+ years). Ew!

Ew is right - 30 years is a long time!

My parents both had false teeth by the time I was born, so I awoke to that same sight, although they usually had theirs floating in cups. My mother NEVER allowed anyone to see her without her teeth. When she became terminally ill, they took her teeth from her and I thought that she would think that the greatest indignity, even moreso then the diapers. I've always spent bundles to protect my teeth. My husband just broke his front one off and we're waiting to see if they recommend an implant. Ka-Ching!

Oh, no. Hope there is a less costly alternative for your hubby's broken tooth!


Great article! Thanks for shedding light on the ins and outs of implants! The explanation of the procedure (as well as the cost!) should be very helpful to those considering this type of tooth replacement.

The Garden Lites souffles sound delicious and I hope to try them soon! I will probably order them for my Mom, too!

Thanks again for a very informative article!

You are very welcome - and thanks for reading and commenting!

Ooooo... those sound really yummy! I'll have to see if I can find Garden Lites next time I'm in the city. I wish I could afford dental implants too, but living on a fixed disability income makes even going to the dentist out of reach. [:-(
I wish they did charitable dentistry like they do those extreme makeover shows! Hey, that's an idea... EXTREME DENTIST!

Good idea - extreme dentist. Line me up!

Wile the women in my family always take good care of their teeth but had a lot of cavities and all kind of problems the men never really care about and... have a good teeth. How it can be? so unfair!
I'm pretty sure that my dentist had a few good vacations at my expenses!!!

That is definitely unfair, Rosalba! I guess it's the luck of the draw; genetics, or a combination. How's this for unfair: my dad, who is almost 91, has all his (original) teeth and has never had a root canal. Me? Not so lucky.

If it takes so long to get the implant do you walk around with a gap during the process? With the lenghthy process and expense involved, what is the draw?

Yes, you do walk around with a gap. And that part is annoying. It takes months before it is healed enough to be able to put a crown on it.

The draw is that in the end, you don't have to worry about dentures, bridges, etc.

Not perfect, but I guess worth the payoff in many cases!

I'd love to try the Garden Lites! :)

How very interesting. I'd not had any experience with dental implants except on one of those beauty makeover shows. I thought they were practically instant. I guess not.

How sweet to have something you could eat when you got home.

You may be thinking about veneers or bonding, which improve just the appearance of your teeth, Heather. This is much more complicated and not as much fun :(

Dental work: I'm with Alisa: Up there with car repairs in the expense category.

A necessary evil, I suppose!

Research for a good dental insurance. It was one of my best investments after 60. Many options include coverage for dental implants.

I had dental implants and I loved it. With the implant, you can eat anything you want without any worries. You brush and floss and everything is normal. It looks just like a natural tooth. Nobody will even notice that it's not a natural tooth.


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