We’d definitely recommend thinking about dental implants when considering tooth replacement options. Patients might have a sense that implants are expensive, or perhaps they have a reputation as a purely cosmetic option—but at an average cost of around $4500, they compare well to other procedures, and have a lot of functional advantages.
If we look at the alternatives then hopefully we can create a clearer picture of why implants might be the way to go.
What are the Alternatives?
Obviously, when there’s a gap in your teeth the cheapest option is to do nothing. In that case you might lose some bone when the tooth is extracted. That loss of bone might make it more difficult to pursue getting an implant down the track.
You’ll also find that the teeth on either side (the adjacent teeth) will start to collapse into the space, and the opposing tooth on the opposite arch will also begin to migrate its way into the gap. That introduces some bite problems and interferences over time, as you can imagine.
A little background can help us to understand why this happens. Our teeth start growing when we’re young, and at a certain point they suddenly stop growing. The reason they stop is that opposing teeth start touching each other, and they reach an equilibrium point. From that stage, if you reduce either one of them then the other will start to grow.
So when you’ve got a gap in your teeth, doing nothing isn’t really an optimum scenario.
One of the options is for us to create a denture plate that can click in and out. That’s going to be a lower-cost option and most people will be familiar with what getting a denture plate entails.
Another alternative to implants is creating a bridge. In the bridge procedure, we will put a crown on the teeth on either side of the gap and join the two together. The downside here is that we will have to damage the two teeth on either side of the gap. When it comes to costs, the bridge procedure is around the same as an implant anyway—around $4500.
We will still consider doing bridges, especially in cases where the teeth on either side are quite heavily restored and could do with having a crown on them. In those cases, the bridge procedure can benefit the teeth either side, as opposed to just doing two crowns and an implant —and in the latter instance, the patient would also be looking at about $3000 for two crowns and then $4500 for the implant, so a bridge is competitive cost-wise there.
However, if we’re talking about a relatively straightforward tooth replacement scenario then dental implants are definitely a practical and cost-effective option, especially in the long run.