When patients hear the term dental implants, they usually associate it with lengthy and painful—not to mention expensive treatment. But the truth of the matter is there are a number of different uses for implants - and not all of them require you to spend hours in a chair, in a world of pain while re-mortgaging your house to pay for it. While it is true that patients who already have a mouth full of dentures may require radical work when it comes to having dental implants, more often than not I find I am required to replace only one or two teeth around the mouth, making for a far more conservative treatment.
What are dental implants anyway?
In order to clarify the type of treatment required, it is important to understand what a dental implant is and why they are needed. Put simply, a dental implant is a surgical component that connects with the bone of the jaw or skull to support (or anchor) a dental prosthesis such as a crown, bridge or denture. There are many reasons why a patient would require a dental implant however the most common is because their tooth or several teeth have been impacted by tooth decay. Alternatively, it is also common to see clients whose tooth has cracked as a result of the patient grinding their teeth at night or where a tooth has split down the middle and needs to be removed.
The process of getting dental implants
Dentistry as an industry is constantly evolving thanks, in part, to the technology revolution and as a result we are now seeing digitally guided surgery. This technique is often used when introducing dental implants into the mouth. This has had a major impact on our practice as we are now in a position to scan patients and plan their treatment on the computer well ahead of time. We then use this digital data to plan where the ideal implant placement will be before using a laser guide to place the implant in position. Aside from there being fewer post-operative issues, many patients say this method also reduces much of the physical discomfort associated with having dental implants installed. Myself and other dental colleagues have found anecdotal evidence that this technique also reduces the patient’s anticipated recovery time.
How much do implants cost?
One of the most common questions I get asked when on the subject of dental implants is how expensive are they? And to that I always respond the same way—I tell them it depends on who they are talking to. I am a dentist, and I am an advocate of good oral health so for me I would do anything to save my teeth. But for those who are not as passionate, I can see they may have difficulty justifying spending so much on their teeth. It is hard to give an exact cost as the final bill will be determined by the number of teeth that need to be replaced and the type of artificial teeth that will be replaced. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay between $4,000 and $5,000 to replace one tooth so its not cheap.
That said, I would also argue that if you don't undertake the treatment when it is required you may find yourself facing much higher dental bills later on. There are implications for not replacing teeth and while it may seem drastic at the time, it is usually a case of a patient not realising what they had until its gone.
Without wishing to overstate it, when done correctly dental implants have the ability to change peoples lives. While there are obvious social benefits in terms of self-esteem and confidence, there are also nutritional benefits as well where unlike with dentures, you are able to eat better foods that are more fibrous and ultimately prove better for your long-term health.