Dental implants are one of my biggest passions in dentistry. Before the introduction and success of implant-based dentistry, losing an adult tooth, or even all of your teeth, meant a very permanent and frustrating loss. Dental implants are special metal devices that are put in place of a missing tooth and are permanently attached in the existing bone with a prosthetic tooth on top. Advancements in recent years in implant dentistry have improved the process, success, and experience of implants – but before implants became available, options were limited.
The only replacement options have traditionally been removable partial dentures (RPD) (commonly referred to as “flippers”) or removable dentures for total loss. Although an RPD is a great option, the downfall is in the name – removable. An RPD derives its support and function from resting on the gums in tandem with metal hooks that wrap around any existing teeth. This device can quickly become “wobbly” and unstable. The metallic hooks can cause deterioration of the existing teeth leading to gum recession and bone loss over time. Ultimately, patients may experience a deteriorating, ill-fitting, and frustrating RPD.
Nowadays, permanent and long-lasting restorations include options such as a bridge or an implant to replace the missing dentition. Both are great options, but implants still have a leg up on a dental bridge. There are important factors to consider, as a bridge provides a very quick turnaround to finalize the permanent replacement – but a bridge can be difficult to keep clean. An implant highly resembles the original tooth as it’s much easier to floss and keep clean. An implant becomes fully integrated with the bone and once restored with a tooth – it can last a lifetime. Dental bridges rely on existing teeth and gums and can still be susceptible to decay. In addition to this, bone loss is inevitable underneath a dental bridge as the bone recesses over time when it’s not in direct contact with chewing forces and rather rests on opposing teeth. Implants are extraordinarily advantageous and healthy as they transfer loading directly to the jaw, which stimulates bone production and health.
If an implant is the treatment of choice, there are vital factors to consider:
PROPER PLANNING AND QUALIFIED MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS
If an implant is the treatment of choice, the most important part of the process is proper planning. It is important to have healthy existing bone quality as well as enough bone for the implant to be placed. A new x-ray technology with cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) allows the dentist to evaluate both the quality and quantity of bone and to properly plan the placement of the implant. An implant placed in poor orientation in relation to your bite can significantly affect the aesthetics, the cleanliness, and even the long-term prognosis of the implant. Not every implantologist is perfect, especially when the human body is involved. However, implants can have incredible success rates when you pair the latest x-ray technology with a dentist who understands the multi-factor problem, can plan and can eliminate many variables. Implant placement has become an extremely plannable and calculated procedure.
Planning and technology are two areas that are important to understand about implants and making sure that your dentist is experienced and educated (like Dr. Henzlik at Modern Mint) is vital to the implant’s success.
COST AND IMPLANT PART QUALITY
Costs can vary so much from one dental office to another and it can be overwhelming to tease out why. With how common the dental implant procedure is, a myriad of implant companies have started up that manufacture the actual implant and its many associated parts to connect that implant to your smile. The main driver of implant cost can be the implant itself. Implant parts are made mostly of titanium but can also contain different alloys depending on the design. The design of the implant threads and surface texture are specially engineered for different situations such as placing an implant immediately on the same day as taking the tooth out, or perhaps using an implant in a place where there has been a missing tooth for a long time. Different implant surface textures have the intention of allowing both the surface level bone to keep a good seal around the implant as well as to help the gum tissue form a seal to ward off bacteria that can cause a chronic infection leading to implant failure. Phew! A lot of science and engineering goes into a single, small implant. With so much to consider, there are certain implant parts that have better success rates and researched benefits than others. At Modern Mint Dental Care, we choose to use high-quality implant parts to ensure the best possible outcome and functionality of your implant. The cost for an implant doesn’t always speak of the quality of the dental provider – beware of low-cost or “too-good-to-be-true” implant centers! Being an independently owned and operated dental clinic, we can choose the absolute best parts for our implant procedures and aren’t bound to the choices of a corporation – which often put the patient last. I love successful procedures and I am proud of our choice and commitment to quality parts and tools for our patients, which help to significantly reduce implant failures due to poor implant part quality.