For many dental patients deciding whether or not to get dental implants, the price tag is a determining factor. Since the price of dental implants can be significantly higher than other solutions for missing teeth, some patients are more willing to explore more competitively-priced solutions like dentures, partial dentures or bridges. But this could be costlier in the long-term.
Replacing teeth: what are my options?
A missing tooth can be a nagging inconvenience. Not only does it negatively impact your smile, but missing teeth will affect the way you speak, eat, and talk. And since gaps cause your other teeth to shift, it can also have a profound effect on the future of your smile. Here are three of the most popular tooth restoration options:
- Dental implants
Dental implants are titanium or ceramic posts surgically implanted into the jawbone to act as an anchor for replacement teeth. They’re a permanent solution for missing teeth, and with the proper care, you may never have to replace them. Plus, they offer a 95% to 98% success rate, meaning that most people won’t have an issue with the success of their surgery.
A dental implant looks and feels like a natural tooth, allowing you to chew and speak like you did before you lost your tooth. At present, they’re the closest thing to natural teeth that dentistry has to offer, and most of the time, it’s difficult to tell the difference between someone’s dental implants and their natural teeth. Not only are dental implants virtually identical to natural teeth, but they aren’t susceptible to many of the problems natural teeth have, like cavities, worn enamel, and tooth decay.
While implant dentistry is a popular option for replacing a missing tooth, but it’s not the only option. Removable dentures are probably the fastest way to replace missing teeth. Some dentists have on-site laboratories where you can get same-day emergency denture repair and even same-day dentures, if needed.
Dentures conveniently rest on the gum line as a substitute for missing teeth. Some denture wearers only remove their dentures at night, while others only wear their dentures when they feel it’s necessary. Removable dentures are designed for easy wear and easy removal, but it’s not unusual for dentures to slip out of place. When this happens, food can get wedged between your dentures and your natural teeth or gums, and cause pain and irritation.
- Dental bridges
A dental bridge fills the space between your teeth by anchoring itself to the adjacent teeth, thereby securing the integrity of the space and keeping nearby teeth from moving. After tooth loss, stabilizing the remaining teeth is important because shifting teeth create new crevices for dental plaque, which can lead to tooth decay.
How much do dental implants cost?
The cost of dental implants varies, but the prices can range from $1,000 to $3,000 per implant. That’s significantly more expensive than most other solutions for replacement teeth. Most dental insurance plans consider implants a cosmetic procedure, so costs aren’t covered. If your dental plan does cover the costs, you’ll probably still need to pay a significant proportion of the cost out-of-pocket.
However, it’s important to consider the long-term expenses. Dental implants are more durable than dentures and bridges, and they’re designed to last a lifetime. So, even if the upfront price of getting dental implants seems expensive, you may end up paying less money for your restorations and spend less time on maintenance, replacement, and repairs than you would with removable dentures or bridges.
So, Are Dental Implants the Best Tooth Replacement Option?
Taking everything into consideration, dental implants are the ideal long-term solution. Dental implants can replace a single tooth, several teeth, or all of your teeth, and they can be used to anchor a bridge or dentures into place. If you need to have all your teeth replaced, implant-supported dentures are a great solution. They provide more stability than traditional dentures and cost less than replacing all of your teeth with implant-supported crowns.
The four-step dental implant procedure
Getting dental implants is a four-step surgical process provided by your dentist, a prosthodontist or an oral surgeon. The entire process will take several months to complete, although in some cases, it may take significantly longer. However, as dental implant technology continues to advance and products like Nobel Teeth-In-An-HourTM and mini implants become more common, we’ll see more and more single-visit dental implants. So, what can you expect from the dental implant procedure?
- Removing the toothIf your tooth hasn’t already been removed, extraction is usually the first step in the dental implant procedure. Tooth extraction is a straightforward process, even if the tooth is broken or impacted. Your dentist will be able to extract your tooth in just a few minutes.
- Implanting the postDuring the second step of your dental treatment, your dentist will drill a hole into your jawbone and screw a titanium implant in place as the anchor for your new tooth. Don’t worry. It sounds worse than it is. Most patients will undergo this procedure quite comfortably with just a local anesthetic, although if you suffer from dental anxiety your dentist may recommend sedation. After your dentist implants the post, the gum is secured over the dental implant and will remain covered long enough for the implant to fuse to the jawbone. This process, called osseointegration, usually takes several months. Your dentist won’t install your permanent crown onto the post until osseointegration is complete, so you’ll be sent home wearing healing caps on top of the posts.
- Attaching the abutmentNext, the abutment – a screw that holds the implant in place – is installed. In this stage of the dental implant procedure, your dentist will remove your healing caps to expose the top of the post. The abutment extends just above the gum line, which is where your replacement tooth will be attached.
- Adding your replacement toothIn the final step of the implant process, your dentist will add a dental crown securely on top of the abutment. There are two main types of artificial teeth that you can choose from: removable or fixed. Removable implants can be removed for cleaning, while fixed implants are permanently screwed down. Your new tooth will be extremely secure and function just like any other tooth.
Dental Implant Care
Remember, if properly maintained, dental implants can last a lifetime. Your dentist will help you understand exactly how to take care of your dental implants, but here are some of our top tips for aftercare and maintenance:
- Immediately after your dental implant surgery, you may experience bleeding, soreness around the gums and jaw, swelling, and bruises. Over-the-counter medications can help reduce your discomfort, while gauze pads can help to alleviate bleeding. You should also try to eat soft foods and avoid eating anything that’s spicy, chewy, or likely to get stuck in the incision site.
- Even though the dental implant can’t get cavities, you still need to brush and floss the area to remove harmful bacteria and dental plaque buildup. Cleaning your dentures is no different to cleaning natural teeth, although you may find it more difficult to reach certain areas. But don’t worry, your dentist will show you how it’s done!
- In addition to practicing good oral hygiene, you may want to consider refraining from smoking. Smoking can slow down the healing process, so it’s crucial to avoid cigarettes in the immediate aftermath of the procedure, but quitting is also good dental advice, period.
- Schedule regular dental visits every six months to stay on top of your oral health and ensure that your dental implants are working the way that they’re supposed to.
If you think dental implants might be right for you, talk to your local dentist. They will take your overall health into account when determining whether you are a good candidate for dental implants, so be sure to discuss any pre-existing medical conditions you may have with your dentist.