My parents, if they were alive today, would be amazed and proud to know that I still have more than half of my natural teeth. I am rather amazed, myself, since by the time I had reached my mid-thirties, most of my teeth had fillings, and several had been thought beyond repair, and so had been extracted. Consequently, before I was 40 years old, I was fitted with my first partial plate. It cost $250. I could not afford to get a lower partial, and so it was several years before I had a complete set.
Now, those same partial plates costs $1400 each. But after 25 years, I am having my old ones replaced tomorrow.
My parents were 26 and 28 years old when I was born. Both of them already had complete dentures! That was 1938; they had very little money, and that may have been the least expensive way to address the problem of teeth that needed continual work and probably caused them a lot of pain.
Those dentures lasted them the rest of their lives. Every night they soaked the plates, and every morning they patiently applied the paste liner that kept them fitting well enough that they could eat, talk, and sing without any problems that I knew of. I do recall that they occasionally filed off pressure points that began to bother them, though. I have no idea what they paid for them, but they were excellent dentures. My mother kept my father’s when he passed away in 1982; she was buried wearing hers.
I fully expected to be wearing dentures when I reached retirement age. Instead, I have 4 teeth that have never needed restoring, 8 teeth with fillings, 8 crowns, and one root canal. I can’t say I have ever enjoyed sitting in a dentist’s chair or paying thousands of dollars to keep as many natural teeth as I could. It is always a time of high tension when I have any work done–even routine cleaning. But with modern anesthesia and high-speed water-cooled drills, my dentist provides care that is as painless as possible.
Perhaps there will come a time when, as I saw in a popular science fiction series, people can have their teeth sealed against decay for decades, and when they do need to have a cavity repaired, all it takes is a brief touch with a chemical. Our methods will probably seem barbaric then.