Dental implants are a good long-term solution to replacing lost teeth. According to Dr. Ryne Johnson, prosthodontist and director of Newton Wellesley Dental Partners, who has been regarded as "Boston's Best Prosthodontist", "Patients need to consider their options and make educated decisions when they are deciding between bridges and implants. The decisions you make can be the difference in one's quality of life".
Bridges, dentures, and implants are all prosthetic options to replace missing teeth. A bridge requires filing two adjoining teeth, which can make them weaker and prone to decay. Dentures often have fit problems, can interfere with taste and offer a reduced chewing ability. For an implant, a titanium or zirconia screw is placed in the jawbone and a prosthetic tooth is attached. A proper implant has offers better bio-mechanical support and has good longevity.
One of the biggest "problems" patients see with implants is the cost. Implants are rarely covered by insurance. But when considering cost you need to consider value. Implants are a permanent, long-term solution that can match your existing teeth. Implants are generally for the rest of your life, and can replicate your teeth in appearance and functionality. If you need multiple implants or if an implant is near a nerve or sinus cavity, it's worth paying for a dentist who has specialized training.
Most dentists use implants that have a long-term track record backed by in-vivo (in the mouth) studies. There are also some newer, generic implants that are cheaper but may not have been fully-evaluated yet. So ask your doctor what kind of implant he uses and the success rate he's had with it.
Implants are usually a two-part process -- first putting in the implant, then covering it with a crown six to 12 weeks later. If you know you need one, schedule the initial procedure at the end of a calendar year, then have the dental work put on in the following year. That way you can use two years' worth of your pretax flexible spending account at work to pay a chunk of the cost. You'll reap as much as 30% savings if you're in a high tax bracket.
There are many dentists who perform implant dentistry. However, many do not have the experience, expertise or credentials to handle the nuances that dictate whether your work looks like dentistry or looks like your natural smile. Many have only participated in a weekend continuing education program and then become self-proclaimed "experts". To assure an outstanding outcome, check one's experience, reputation and credentials. A prosthodontist, periodontist and oral surgeons all have at least 3 years of training above and beyond that of a general dentist and are committed to providing "top-shelf" care. Do your homework and your implant dentistry can last a lifetime.
For information on dental implants, contact Newton Wellesley Dental Partners.
Excerpts – CNN.com