This is a daunting task quite often.
Sometimes one needs to decide between getting a root canal and trying to save a tooth or just do the definitive move of losing it and placing a dental implant. Other options might be a bridge, or if you are missing more teeth, a partial.
If things are really bad and it doesn’t look like teeth are in your future, the choice might be between a traditional denture and a dental implant supported overdenture.
If you need a little help understanding what a dental implant is, please check out my video:
Some of the best advantages of dental implants are that they don’t decay. Their long-term prognosis is amazing and they don’t compromise, but rather relieve burdens from the other teeth. Bridges and partial dentures require other teeth to do extra work to support them. For many people in this arena, the last thing that we would want to do is stress the teeth any more. This alone is a huge push for dental implants.
One of the best things about dental implants these days is that they are very predictable. I’ve been restoring dental implants for almost 30 years and the process has continued to become more successful, almost routine over the years. We’ve identified where the pitfalls are, when to do bone grafting and waited 4 months to place the implant in a better situation in most of the most challenging situations. The discovery phase is over.
Some of the other things to consider when choosing between dental implants and crowns, bridges, partial dentures and other options are the time and cost. For most people these are considered the biggest drawbacks.
It’s a lot of work with pricey materials to do them right and that’s why they cost more. To replace one tooth can easily be over $5,000. from start to finish. Whereas, this is only a little bit more than the cost of a dental bridge and you spare the neighboring teeth from getting compromised by being drilled down. More importantly the long-term prognosis for the crown and teeth that would be used in the bridge is massively better with the implant supported crown. If you are lucky enough to only have the bridge remade once in your lifetime the implant has more than paid for itself, much less the time and angst you will suffer.
Restoring an area with an implant can offer markedly different amounts of time. Quite often we are able to place an immediate temporary crown on an implant in the front of the mouth and fully restore it after the implant has been integrated into the bone in 4 months.
Other times we might have to do different types of bone grafting and let the body convert it into bone in which we can place an implant a few months later. Then, of course, the implants will take another 4 months to integrate before we can start to restore them.
In several situations we can come up with various ways to provide a temporary cover to the implant area, even if it is merely esthetic and not functioning. The challenge is that we don’t want to place any temporary damage that might affect the success of the grafting or the implants healing.
The cost and time are very personal issues for each person in each situation. I’ve heard several patients say that they will never get another root canal done; they will just have the tooth removed and restore the area with an implant. Most feel this attitude is a bit extreme, but in many situations the patient would save time, money and aggravation by just restoring the area with a crown on an implant. We don’t have the luxury of the dental crystal ball to let you know when we are entering this rabbit hole. Once again, we will have a comprehensive consultation explaining all of the variables to allow the patient to make their best decision as they see fit.
Lastly, deciding whether or not to have a traditional denture or one that is implant supported really only comes down to finances for most people. There is no one who would choose a denture that is implant supported. It can cost $25,000 per arch to restore a denture on implants. Patients typically are able to have a fastened denture the day of the surgery, with limited chewing for the healing phase.
As a Bryn Mawr family dentist, I have worked with dozens of surgeons in the area and know the strengths of many of them and can help a patient decide on who might be the best fit for them and their situation. This would also be an important step in the decision making process.
Please feel free to come in for a complimentary consultation if you are wrestling with any bit of the decision process about implants.
David Dillon, DMD, Dillon Family Dentistry
Dr. David M Dillon, DMD
Dr. Dillon is a 3rd generation dentist, his family has been serving the Bryn Mawr area in dentistry for over 50 years.