As oral surgeons, we are often confronted with many questions about dental implant therapy. The majority of these questions relate to how much will a dental implant cost and is the procedure associated with pain. These questions may be the most common but, are they the best questions to ask when learning about this dental procedure?
The cost of a dental implant is a concern for patients for good reason. This treatment option has long been associated with an increase in expense, time and complexity. Not to mention, the issue of secondary costs for the abutment and crown which are required to utilize the implant. Its important to remember that the initial cost and time may be more with a dental implant however, the longterm advantages generally outweigh these issues. Consider the alternative to a dental implant is a 3 unit bridge. This option involves reshaping adjacent teeth to replace one or more missing teeth. This type of treatment often has a shorter “dental” life span due to the affected teeth becoming decayed or loose. When this occurs the bridge either needs to be replaced or removed in its entirety. Often patients become frustrated because they find their costs are now magnified and the number of teeth requiring replacement increasing as well. This does not mean a bridge is always contraindicated nor does it mean that dental implants are perfect. It simply illustrates that focusing on a less expensive option initally, can prove costly in the future.
What about the second question we are often asked, “is placement of a dental implant painful?” To address this we rely on patient testimonials. The majority of patients will state that dental implant placement is easier and less stressful than having a tooth removed. Why? Because dental implant placement is a very controlled and precise procedure that does not involve extensive manipulation of surrounding tissue. Often, we have prepared the area for a future implant at the time the tooth was removed (see our bone grafting section) thus making implant placement easier. Again, this is not every case and you can probably envision that some situations are more involved that others but, the majorty of the time, the dental implant is a relatively benign experience.
In our next section we will highlight what questions patients should be asking about dental implants.