Implants can last a lifetime if properly taken care of
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
If you have holes in your smile, dental implants offer an option for replacing lost teeth.
“Implants allow patients the ability to avoid removable dentures, as dentures can float all over the mouth,” said Tatyana Baranovsky, board certified prosthodontist at Specialized Dentistry in Syracuse. “Using implants makes a lot of difference. If implants are properly planned by prosthodontist and an oral surgeon, the results are wonderful.”
The industry average is around $2,400 or more per tooth, plus more if other services are needed. The cost of dentures is about $2,500 for a full set. However, insurance typically offers some coverage, unlike implants. Recent shortages for materials have caused prices to creep up for some providers.
“It’s affordable,” Baranovsky said. “Every specialist charges different fees. There are different brands that specialists place. Some brands are inexpensive; some are very high end and more scientifically supported and are more expensive.”
Implants typically have no ongoing costs like dentures, which require adhesive, cleansing tablets, adjustments and replacement. Dentures last five to 10 years for most patients.
Since dentures cover the roof of the mouth, they interfere with the taste and feel of food. Certain foods are off limits with dentures because they are too difficult to chew. Some patients feel uncomfortable with an appliance in their mouths. Dentures, especially if ill-fitting, can wear down the bone from the friction while eating.
In addition to improving appearance, dental implants allow patients to chew and taste food normally. They also help prevent bone loss and help keep the adjacent teeth from shifting.
The process begins with visiting a dentist to review dental history, health history and receive X-rays.
Baranovsky said that contraindications include smoking.
“Even if you quit, it’s high risk,” she said.
Uncontrolled diabetes, previous gum disease, cancer treatments, and radiotherapy of the head and neck are also possible contraindications.
Any infections in the mouth will have to heal. If the bone in the jaw is not ideal, the patient will need to have more work done such as bone grafts. Most patients experience minimal pain.
Dentists can fit patients with a temporary tooth to fill in the gap cosmetically.
“It can look like a retainer or we build a bridge that clamps on the back of the teeth or a temporary tooth on the implant itself,” said Zina Berry, dentist and owner of Berry Good Dental Care, P.C. in Syracuse. Berry places implants.
These temporary measures will not have the same function as the permanent implanted tooth will.
“After you have an implant placed, it takes at least 90 days for the body to notice and accept it,” Berry said. “At that point, based on the sound bone integration, you can then restore it and put the prosthetic piece on to replace the missing tooth or teeth.”
The prosthetic piece, or crown, sits on the gumline.
One of the advantages that an implant has over a partial appliance is that the latter tends to torque the adjacent teeth, which can cause them to become loose.
Sol Weinstein, dentist with the Weinstein Dental Group in Brockport. added that the presence of the appliance can also trap food debris, which contributes to decay. They can also irritate gums.
A fixed partial denture or bridge offers a more permanent option. However, to fit it, the adjacent teeth must be filed down, which can raise the risk for decay.
The recovery time after implantation varies case by case.
The procedure is generally not painful unless the patient receives bone grafts. Many people feel fine to go back to work the next day. The implanted tooth can be installed and functioning after three months.
“Implants can last a lifetime if properly taken care of,” Berry said. “You have to care for it like a natural tooth. The prosthetic pieces have plaque retention opportunities more than a natural tooth.
You have to clean and floss that area regularly.”
During routine visits, dentists check the mouth for any bite changes in the rest of the mouth.