Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dental Implants Vs. dental Bridges

Dental Implants are far superior to Dental bridges in regards to their functionality and appearance. While the price of a dental implants may be slightly more than a dental bridge, the cumulative long term costs of implants is far less than bridges.

Analyzing the two options as solutions to missing tooth is a not an apple to apple comparison. Dental bridges can only be considered when there is no sufficient jawbone to support an implant in cases when patients do not want to undergo bone graft to supply necessary bones to place an implant. A Dental bridge is not a permanent solution to missing tooth, rather it's a temporary alternative to preserve the natural look for a maximum of 10 years. Unfortunately the damages that a bridge does to adjacent teeth is irreversible. The two supporting teeth needs be cut and covered with crowns that are attached to the middle one that fills the gap for the missing tooth. The crowns increase the risk of gum receding and if crown margins are not enough soon bacteria will start growing under the healthy teeth and causes decays. This will ultimately results in cavities and root canals which would require the crown and the bridge to be dismantled and placed again. In some cases the supporting teeth will become loose and cannot support the bridge. In these cases, a bigger bridge needs to be built and more teeth cut to support the new bridge. In some other cases the bridge itself may fracture or cause tooth to break.

Dental Implants, however, can function independent of their surrounding teeth. They preserve the natural look of your smile as well as your healthy gum and jaw tissues. Implants are permanent solutions and can function similar to natural teeth.

The advantages of dental implant and its overall low costs of maintenance make it a very viable options for replacing missing tooth.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Dental Implants: Costs Vs. Price!

The guide to get low cost dental implants

Dental implant is the state of the art solution in tooth replacement, much better and more reliable than a bridge or denture. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, almost 70 percent of adults between the ages of 35 and 44 have lost "at least one permanent tooth to an accident, gum disease, a failed root canal or tooth decay". People with one or several missing teeth need to consider dental implants as a viable solution to preserve healthy jaw bones or to prevent further damage to their oral bone structure. Implants are designed to perform like a natural tooth and as such are permanent solutions. 

But, with so many different implant brands and different dental clinics offering implants for various prices, how would you know if you’re getting the implant that is going to look good and function as it was promised? While it may be an easy task for a dental professional to decipher the quality of the implant and assess the experience level of the surgeon, it is almost impossible for an average person to predict the outcome on the sole basis of price.  
Now, I want you to know that the price you are quoted for a complete tooth implant does depend on these factors:
  • The dental implant brand
  • The need for a bone graft and the level of bone reconstruction
  • The type of abutment and crown you will receive after your implant is placed
  • The lab and quality of material they use to custom build the tooth structure

The success factor also depends on:
  • The quality of the dental implant used
  • The quality of abutment and implant crown
  • The jawbone that supports the implant
  • The surgeon’s expertise (Specialization; Periodontist) 
  • The diagnostic process to determine the correct location, size, angle, and height of the dental implant
  • The patient’s oral hygiene after implant placement 

So, with all these variables involved it’s easier to understand why dental implant treatments are quoted considerably different for different patients. 
As a Periodontist, I feel obligated to also inform my patients about the costs vs. price of dental implants. I encounter many patients on a daily basis who are promised implant for $xx. While I do not endorse nor do I condemn such practices, I would like to make sure that my patients do understand the true costs of a dental implant. First and foremost I want my patients to be able to compare apple to apple. That means the real price comparison should be done on the exact product or service you will receive. Furthermore, the need to create sufficient bone structure will add to the price of an implant. These types of procedures should only be performed by an experienced and highly trained Periodontist (Surgeon). Lastly, the imaging technology that is used to precisely evaluate and measure the surrounding gum and bone for highly accurate placement is not available in all the dental offices. Although expensive, these diagnostic technologies significantly increase the success rate of the dental implant you will receive.

The high costs of low price implants:

Now, all these factors aside, I want my educated patient to also know that there’s a price vs. cost difference not only for dental implants but for anything else they purchase in general. To make it clear, I would like to explain that the price is the fee that they pay once. However, the cost is the sum of all fees they’d pay for the life of the product they want to purchase. So a product can be offered for a low price but end up being high cost. Vise versa, a product could be priced high but ends up to be very low in overall costs. In dental implant case, the price is what you pay to receive a dental implant today and the cost would be the total of all fees that you will be paying for the life of the implant in various forms. A dental implant that is not done correctly or not maintained properly can be very costly. It can get infected or fractured, and ultimately damage surrounding bone, gum, nerves, and/or fail to integrate. 
The treatment process of any of these complications could add up to considerable sum of money and therefore need to be carefully considered when opting for a low price implant procedure done by an inexperienced dentist.   
As a surgeon specialized in implantology, I have treated many failing or failed dental implants that were originally placed for very low prices. A failed implant wastes patients’ money and time, not to mention the additional procedures that you have to go through for the second time. But the damage may not be only limited to time and money as patient might have lost healthy bone that now require reconstruction for a new implant to be successfully placed. 
Considering all the costs of redoing the whole treatment, I believe it is a smart idea to look for low cost dental implant and not for a low price one! 

Questions to ask when looking for a low cost dental implant:
  1. Quality of the dental implant: Does the company offers a lifetime warranty? I know we do. How long has this implant been around? Which country was it made in? Is there any research that supports the use of this specific implant? What type of titanium has been used? 
  2. The surgeon’s experience: Is implant his/her specialty? How many years of experience does the doctor have in the field of implantology? What is his/her success rate?
  3. The diagnostic techniques: Will the surgeon use a surgical guide during the surgery? does the surgeon use 3D imaging or 2D?
  4. The reputation and quality of the lab used by dentist: What kind of abutment will I get? (Custom or Pre-fabricated).  What kind of crown will I get? (Porceline fused to metal, all Ceramic, etc). 

In all, Complications and risks with dental implants are extremely rare if they are provided by experienced surgeons and restorative dentists. Proper diagnosis, planning, and techniques can eliminate many problems that can arise, thus reducing your costs to the minimum!