Figuring out If Dental Implants Are Right for You
Dental implants may be an option if you have missing teeth. The surgeries required for this type of dental care have been successfully in place for more than 30 years, according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID). Implants are artificial roots, much like a screw, made of titanium metal that is used to replace missing natural roots and support artificial teeth. The dental implants are a sort of anchor that holds the new replacement teeth in place. These artificial additions look and function like the real deal, according to Mayo Clinic. They are often used as alternatives to wearing dentures or having bridgework completed. Implants make no noise, do not cause damage to the jawbone, and replacement teeth look, feel, and function naturally. Three million Americans currently have implants, according to the AAID, with an additional 500,000 people getting them every year.
You will likely receive a referral from your regular dentist following x-rays and a mouth inspection to see if you are a good candidate for implants. You will then consult either an oral surgeon or periodontist. When crowns, bridges, or dentures are required, dental specialists called prosthodontists complete the work. People who are generally healthy and have healthy gums, with a jawbone that can adequately hold an implant, are typically good candidates for the surgery, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Under the gum tissue in the jawbone is where the titanium dental implant is placed. Over time and with healing, the implant will bond with the actual bone and attach to the healthy gums. It is important that the bone heal tightly around the implant, essentially the two fusing together. An abutment, or a little post, is then added to the implant to which the replacement tooth will be attached. It is important to fit the replacement tooth correctly onto the abutment. If more than one tooth needs to be replaced, or in some cases, all of them, then a fixed bridge is affixed to the dental implants. All of these steps may occur over quite a few months and may be distributed over several procedures. The gums need to heal between surgeries and the bone needs ample time to grow and heal.
For upkeep, scheduling regular dental appointments and diligently brushing and flossing remains important to keep implants in good condition. Well-maintained dental implants can last for decades, according to the AAID. Mayo Clinic suggests avoiding some habits that may damage implants, such as avoiding chewing on hard candy or ice that might break crowns or natural teeth. Also recommended is avoiding tobacco and caffeine, which can both stain replacement teeth. Finally, if you grind your teeth, it is important to get treatment for this so the whole process doesn’t have to be redone due to teeth-grinding damage.
The price for dental implants varies depending on each patient’s customized treatment plans. Cost and number of appointments can vary quite a bit from one person to the next. The dental specialist might offer interesting payment arrangement options. Overall, implants usually cost more than other options for replacement teeth, according to the CDC. It’s important for each patient to thoroughly review their treatment plan proposal with the dental specialist and check with their insurance company to verify coverage. Ten years ago, The New York Times reported dental implants for a single tooth to cost anywhere between $3000-$4500, with full or partial sets costing patients anywhere from $20,000-$45,000. Any dentist can offer implants but not all of them have additional credentials specifically having specialized in dental implants. Doing the research about who offers the best quality service might end up paying off in the long run. The up-front cost could be more expensive but if implants last more than 10 years to a lifetime, and if the higher quality of the procedures ensures that no follow-up surgery or intervention is required, then it might be an enticing option. The AAID warns against agreeing to treatment before actually seeing a dental implant specialist. Without a personalized plan specific to your individual needs, you may be quoted a blanket price that is much higher than what is truly required. Given that dental implants are a long-term investment, it is wisest to spend time learning as much as possible about all the various options available to you in your area.
As always, when looking into medical advice, it is important to consult trusted, reliable resources. The information found in this article should not in any way replace advice given by a medical professional. It is provided as information and outlines some of the best research found online from trusted sources.
American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/31/health/31patient.html