Why do dental implants cost so much?
How can I afford them?
Dental implants are NOT expensive, when one evaluates the return for the investment and the long range benefits that come from having secure, functional, attractive teeth and a winning smile. Unlike all the rest of the human body, the virtual \"youth\" of dentition can be preserved by dental specialists right on up through the age of a hundred. For some who prioritize dental health, the concept of eating well until death is an significant motivation to implant treatment.
Dental implants are a costly treatment to provide for a number of reasons. First, an entire team of highly skilled professionals are necessary in order to deliver the most perfect result that we can for each individual. With the exception of meticulous sterile detail and attentive, thorough home care instructions, there is nothing routine about dental implant treatment. Each patient receives a highly customized treatment plan that takes into consideration their overall health needs in conjunction with the esthetic and functional requirement to achieve a long-lasting smile.
The doctors and staff administering implant treatment commit a great deal more time to the procedure than the patient does. The prosthodontist will intensely study the patient's diagnostic and health profile, and will engineer a custom plan to meet the patient\'s distinct needs. Behind the scenes, surgical staff and laboratory support perform dozens of labor intensive steps to produce the result. The time of many professionals blends to insure success.
Secondly, the materials used to build implant prosthodontics are costly themselves. To obtain comprehensive diagnostics, special radiographic assessments are required using panradiography and cephalometrics. CT scans may also be indicated. The titanium implants and the highly technical computers used by the doctor to place them in the mouth are extremely costly. In addition, the prostheses, both interim and the final version, contain precious and semi-precious metals, and are fused with porcelain that must be artistically applied by careful technicians.
Finally, some patients require bone grafting, sleep sedation anesthesia or genetically enhanced accelerated healing procedures that add to the bottom line cost of the treatment plan.
We have been able to provide comprehensive dental implant treatment to patients of every income level. Our patient relations director has nearly twenty years of experience in arranging funding for even the most extensive and sophisticated treatment. For some, a home equity loan is a good solution. Others forego a new automobile or a family vacation in lieu of a longer lasting benefit. Finally, in many cases, a treatment program can be broken into several phases, accomplishing the more serious needs first. It is not unusual to design a plan that is delivered and paid for over a period of several years.
For those patients who have lost all their teeth, but have not lost significant bone, a fixed bridge (permanent non-removable teeth) may be the treatment of choice since the new bridge is not needed for facial and lip support. However, not all patients are candidates for this treatment. For those patients who have lost all their teeth and/or significant bone, facial and lip support, a removable overdenture, which fits "over" the implants, will often be the treatment of choice.
Overdentures can be made with a full palate covered by denture plastic in the upper jaw or they can have an open palate design. The significance of the choice, to a large extent, is determined by a patient\'s personal experience. This approach to treatment is sometimes "patient-driven." Your motivation and experiences, both physically and emotionally, will in part determine your satisfaction with the replacement teeth whether fixed or removable.
In order to achieve your goals, it is very important that you express your thoughts and experiences to your dentist or prosthodontist. The decision-making process is a balance between patient preferences and the remaining bone, gum tissue, lip and cheek support. For those patients with severe loss of these remaining structures, a removable overdenture will offer several advantages over the fixed type which include:
Aesthetics: This is often the determining factor. With an understanding of the art and science of facial aesthetics, a removable yet stable denture supported by implants can replace lost tissues, re-establish facial harmony and truly result in a \"makeover\" with results often described as remarkable.
Speech enhancement: Patients describe speech as a major factor in the satisfaction with their denture. All implant supported dentures or bridgework especially on the upper jaw may alter speech, but speech is generally shown to be better with a removable denture as compared to the fixed bridgework for those patients who have previously worn a denture.
Hygiene: It is very important to have direct access to clean the tissues surrounding the underlying implants. This design may optimally preserve bone.
Long-term maintenance: All full jaw implant supported fixed bridgework or removable dentures will require some maintenance. If designed well overdenture maintenance should be easier and more cost effective for both the patient and dentist.
To summarize a removable overdenture will be similar to the fixed bridgework, both supported by implants, in terms of comfort and ability to chew, but the overdenture will offer significant advantages for those patients with severe loss of bone, gum, lip and cheek support.
The bottom line is that loss of teeth affects people on an entirely personal level, and that the treatment needs to be highly individualized to be successful. Make sure you give thought to what you want and need, then express yourself to your dentist so your objectives can be met.
As with every surgical procedure, complications may arise with any step of the entire implant reconstruction sequence. This can range from immediately postoperative complications to ones that surface many years after the implants have already been in function. Either way, often we can resolve some of these problems if we diagnose them early and initiate appropriate corrective measures. In order to avoid complications once the implant is in function (with a prosthesis on top) proper maintenance and care on the patient\'s side is a must.