Scientific advancement has made dental implants a more viable option when facing missing teeth. This alternative for dentures has been touted as more durable, more natural-looking and easier to deal with. Some may be wary of the cost, effectiveness or durability, since the technique hasn’t been around long enough to really get a feel for how long they last. These questions may help you sort through the options.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a procedure where the dental professional drills a titanium screw into the jaw bone where a tooth used to be. Over the course of several months, the jaw bone fuses to the screw. During this time, the dentist forms a replacement tooth to match the patient’s remaining teeth. Once the screw is secure, the dentist attaches the prosthetic tooth to the screw. This procedure provides a permanent solution for missing teeth that doesn’t compromise the structure or stability of surrounding teeth.
Questions to Ask Yourself about Dental Implants
Suwanee Dental Care has put together a checklist to help you determine, with your dentist, if dental implants are the right option for you. We have adapted this list for our blog.
How Do I Feel About My Teeth?
Ask these questions to determine your own perception of your teeth:
- Does a missing tooth embarrass me or prevent me from smiling as often?
- Does it make me self-conscious when I feel my partial or dentures slip while talking or laughing with others?
- Do I sometimes forget to use my dentures or feel resigned when I put them in my mouth every day?
Your perception of your current situation could be the deciding factor in whether you pursue a dental implant procedure.
How Does My Mouth Feel?
Ask these questions to uncover how your mouth is responding to your current situation.
- Do my dentures or partial slip frequently?
- Do I struggle to maintain a good fit with my appliance?
- Does my appliance cause discomfort or make it difficult to eat?
- Are the teeth holding my bridge becoming loose or wearing down?
If you answered “yes” to several of these questions, you may want to investigate dental implants simply for the sake of your continued oral health.
Am I Committed to Dental Implants?
These questions will help you know if you are willing to take the effort to make your dental implant procedure successful.
- Am I willing to wait three to nine months to complete the full procedure without giving up partway through or neglecting to care for the area while waiting for the screw to fuse?
- Will I spend the extra time necessary to properly take care of the new dental implants?
- Will I continue to visit my dentist for regular checkups to keep my teeth, both natural and prosthetic, in the best possible condition?
There’s really no point in pursuing the procedure if you already know you won’t be committed to making it happen.
What Is My Medical History?
Sometimes other medical issues can have a bearing on whether dental implants are a viable option for your mouth.
- Do I have diabetes or a bleeding problem? This could hinder or prevent recovery.
- Do I smoke or take certain medicines? These factors could slow the healing process or even prevent the dentist from placing a dental implant to begin with.
- What is my jaw structure and alignment? If your mouth structure is off, you may need to correct it before you can receive implants.
Your dentist should be able to answer these questions for you about whether dental implants are appropriate for your current medical condition.
What Does It Cost?
This final question could be the biggest hindrance for some people. Implants can be expensive, often ranging from $1,300 to $3,000 for a basic procedure. If you live in a more expensive area or you need some complex restoration like bone grafts, those costs can shoot to $20,000 per tooth or more. If you have determined that a dental implant will be incredibly beneficial or necessary for your situation, this may be an expense to start planning for. Some dental insurance alternatives can even discount your cost of treatment by 15-20%, which is better than most traditional insurance.
What if It’s Not Right For Me?
If it just doesn’t seem like dental implants would be worth the time, effort and money, you still have several options to improve the state of your mouth. If you have dentures or a partial, you can visit a dentist to have it repaired or refitted. If you have a bridge, you can have the false tooth more securely anchored and build up the surrounding teeth for more stability. If you are unsatisfied with the way your appliance looks, your dentist can show you several options to make it look more natural.
Evaluate your situation using this checklist, and be sure to consult your dentist with any questions before you make a final decision.