When it comes to replacing missing teeth, you've got some options. The question is which option is right for you?
Dental Implants Cost and Candidacy: Is Implant Dentistry Worth It?
The cost of dental implants depends on many factors, including the type of implantation, the dentist performing the procedure, the location where the implant placement surgery is performed, the dental implant material used and the amount of dental insurance you have.
Single implants may range in cost from $900 to $3,000, depending on the aforementioned factors. The cost of full-mouth reconstructive dental implants can range from $24,000 to $96,000.
If treatment is not covered by your dental insurance, or if you don't have insurance, you may be able to enlist the services of a third-party financing company like CareCredit. Qualified candidates can work with a financing company to develop a monthly payment plan that best fits their budget.
Advantages of Implant Dentistry
Dental implants are stronger and more durable than their restorative counterparts, such as crowns and bridges that are cemented into place, or dentures that are removable.
Implants offer a permanent solution to tooth loss. When used to support a dental bridge or dental crown because multiple teeth are missing, dental implants represent a cavity-resistant and stable foundation for these restorations. Although there are many restorative options for replacing missing teeth, none have proven as functionally effective and durable as dental implants.
Periodontists and oral surgeons perform the implant surgical procedure itself.
Are You a Dental Implant Candidate?
To determine if you are a candidate for dental implants, seek the advice of a qualified dental professional trained in implant dentistry. Ask about the extent of your dentist's training. Training in implants, crowns and/or oral surgery offered by private organizations may be completed over a weekend, but medical organizations such as the American Academy of Periodontology and the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons offer more extensive training. Since dental implant placement is a type of oral surgery, it is important to ensure that your dentist has the experience and training required for this sensitive procedure.
Dental implantation, which is performed to replace missing teeth, can be done any time after adolescence or when bone growth is complete. Certain medical conditions, such as active diabetes, cancer or periodontal disease, may require additional treatment before the implant procedure can be performed.
To determine if implants are right for you, your dental professional will thoroughly examine your teeth and gums and evaluate bone density and quantity. This may involve X-rays and computer tomography scans (CT scans) to ensure there is sufficient bone structure for placing the implant(s), and to determine exactly where the implant should be placed.
Based on the condition of your oral tissues, oral hygiene and personal habits, and commitment to follow aftercare instructions, your dentist will advise you of the most appropriate dental implant treatment plan. Some patients with insufficient bone or gum tissue require bone or soft tissue grafts and/or the use of small diameter implants (also called mini implants).
Also, if you are a smoker who is considering a dental implant, your dentist will likely advise you to quit before undergoing the dental implant procedure because smokers face a higher risk of implant failure. A higher implant failure rate also occurs in people who take immuno-suppressants.
Success Rates of Dental Implants
Dental implants are among the most successful procedures in dentistry. Although there is no guarantee that a dental implant procedure will be successful, studies have shown a five-year success rate of 95 percent for lower jaw implants and 90 percent for upper jaw implants. The success rate for upper jaw implants is slightly lower because the upper jaw (especially the back area) is less dense than the lower jaw, making successful implantation and osseointegration potentially more difficult to achieve. Implant placement at the back of the lower jaw has the highest success rate for all dental implants.
Dental Implant Risks
Dental implants may fail for a number of reasons, but the cause often is related to a failure in the osseointegration process. For example, if the implant is placed in a poor position, osseointegration may not take place. Dental implants may break, the site in which they were placed may become infected, or the crown restoration on top of the implant may become loose.
Poor oral hygiene can lead to peri-implantitis around dental implants, a disease that is similar to the development of periodontitis (severe gum disease) around a natural tooth. However, dental implant restorations are not susceptible to cavities the way natural teeth are.
Implant Dentistry: New Procedural Strategies
Dentists trained to perform implants, crowns and/or surgery have begun to immediately place dental implants into locations where teeth have been extracted. When successful, this approach can shed months off the treatment time associated with dental implants because the osseointegration process is accelerated.
Candidacy for this type of early intervention depends upon the anatomy of the tooth extraction area. For example, in many cases the extracted tooth site is wider than the implant, making it impossible to place the implant into the site immediately after extraction. Bone or soft tissue grafting would be required to ensure a secure implant fit and placement.
Implant Alternatives: Mini Dental Implants
Another strategy for implant placement within narrow spaces is the incorporation of the mini implant. Mini implants may be used for small teeth and incisors.
Narrower implants may be used for small teeth and incisors. Also, a narrower implant may best serve patients who require stabilization of lower jaw dentures, pre-molar teeth, or a missing tooth that was located in a narrow area. A small number of narrower implants are FDA-approved for the purpose of prosthesis stabilization, including the mini dental implant. Only certain dentists may perform this procedure.
There are some core differences between traditional implants and mini implants:
- Mini implants are approximately half the width of their traditional counterparts.
- The implant is not fully submerged during a narrow implant procedure.
- Should implant failure occur, the small size (that of a toothpick) means grafting is not necessary.
- Mini implants are less costly.
- Mini implants are solid though they do not contain a screw.