If you have ever lost a tooth or damaged it so severely from an accident or tooth decay that it had to be removed by a dentist with an extraction, then you probably have checked into dental implants as one of your tooth replacement options.
Without a doubt, implants are the best long term tooth replacement choice when considering replacements for missing teeth because they look and feel just like your real teeth. Not only do they look and feel amazing they are very durable and can last a lifetime when done correctly as opposed to a crown or bridge. That alone outweighs the initial high cost of implants.
We think it’s important that patients understand why dental implants cost so much and why we think it’s a worthwhile investment for you when you weigh all of the tooth replacement options.
When comparing prices for implants, it’s important to consider its not like shopping for a new car where everyone is selling the same exact car for a different price. It’s more like building a cabin near the banks of the Tennessee river. It’s going to depend on the location and condition of the land (your mouth and area of missing tooth), the materials chosen for construction (what is used to construct your implant) and the skill of the craftsman (your dentist) building your cabin.
Depending on your situation, a single tooth implant can be anywhere from $2500 to $5000 depending on what your insurance covers. For most that can be a significant investment.
So, what are you paying for when you get an implant?
Let’s Start With the Materials Used For Implants
First, all implants start with the implant posts which are made from a strong bio-compatible medical-grade titanium that’s screwed into your jaw bone and designed to mimic your tooth’s natural roots. Although Titanium is a durable, long-lasting and lightweight metal, some types are better quality and more expensive than others. Just like in our cabin by the river analogy earlier you can use high-quality wood to withstand the elements which effect the cost, or you could build your cabin from shipping pallets.
When you think about something that’s going to be in your mouth for several years, strength and durability are important factors. The last thing you want is for your dentist to use a low-cost material that is going to require replacement and isn’t going to serve you a lifetime. Think about those too good to be true implant ads you hear on the radio.
Next is the abutment which is a connector that’s used to attach a crown, bridge, or removable denture to the dental implant fixture. The abutment can be made from a variety of materials, such as titanium, surgical stainless steel, and gold.
In our office, abutments are case specific and what we use is based on several factors.
Titanium is the strongest but has limitations on the aesthetics that we can achieve with them. Sometimes they can make the gums look grey in the anterior regions.
Zirconium is still very strong but not as strong as Ti. But the aesthetics are superior to other materials. So we use these abutments when a max aesthetic desire is needed. Such as in the top front of someone’s smile.
The last part of the implant is the crown made to look and feel like your natural teeth. The crown is the visible part of the tooth above the gumline and is made of porcelain or zirconium for overall visual look and durability.
Crowns are custom made to match the size, shape, and color of your other teeth, so they blend in nicely with your smile and look natural.
The Time It Takes and Skill Of The Dentists
Did you know that on average only 10-15% of all dentists offer dental implants?
That’s right! Most general dentists just don’t possess the expertise or knowledge to perform successful implant procedures because they take years of training, knowledge, and expertise to know exactly where to place the dental implant.
One thing patients often overlook is that placing implants is a precise surgical procedure where the dentist needs to drill into your jaw without hitting any of the major nerves and to ensure that the implant integrates correctly with the jaw bone. The cost of dental implants includes the time commitment of the dentist and the dental staff required to perform the surgery.
If an implant is placed improperly, it can result in pain, headaches, losing feeling in parts of your face or simply won’t heal with your jaw.
Sometimes additional procedures may be needed to install the implant including bone grafting or extraction of your original tooth.
Replacing Missing Teeth Is Important
If you have missing teeth, it’s important for many reasons to get them taken care of as soon as you can to avoid it costing you more as time goes on. We know that cost is a significant factor when making these decisions and you may be tempted to put off treatment or decide to go with a procedure that may cost less, but over the course of your life you will end up paying much more if left untreated or improperly treated.
Having a missing tooth or teeth can lead to more serious dental issues down the road and even make you more self-conscious about your appearance. We see patients positively transformed after restoring their smiles and its honestly the most rewarding thing about our jobs.
If a missing tooth is left untreated, it will cause the surrounding teeth to move towards each other to fill in the gap between them and even throw off your bite.
If the teeth and gums around the missing tooth are not cared for properly, gum disease can start to appear, and you can go from needing to replace a single tooth to the need for multiple implants.
An Informed Patient Makes Better Decisions
By now you can tell that dental implants are a complicated surgical procedure that requires expertise and high-quality materials to ensure you get an implant that will last a lifetime.
If you are considering putting off a tooth replacement for financial reasons, please consider the long-term costs to your both your wallet and your health before making your final decision and make sure you schedule an appointment with Dr. McOmie to discuss your options. There is a chance that an implant might not be the best solution for your situation.
The old saying “You get what you pay for” is true in the case of implants because of the complexity of the procedure and the impact of using high-quality materials has on the life of your tooth replacement.