Our smile is one of the first things that someone notices when we meet them. Because it has such an influence on our first impression, the state of our teeth, mouth, and gums can truly influence our confidence.
If you’re unhappy with your smile, your dentist can provide you with a number of different pathways to getting the smile you’ve always dreamed of. One of those options are dental implants.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are a more permanent and natural alternative to bridges or dentures when you need to replace a missing or decayed tooth. Instead of sitting on the top of your gums or connecting to surrounding teeth, dental implants use a manufactured root as the foundation of the tooth replacement.
The dental implant goes straight into your jaw bone, giving you a solid and permanent tooth with full functionality. With dental implants, you do not need to worry about removing your false tooth or teeth throughout the day and you can eat and clean your teeth as you would before the loss or damage of the tooth.
Dental implants are a more natural and easy option that can provide permanent and lasting results. However, dental implants are not right for everyone, as they require surgery and can become expensive.
What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants?
Compared to their less permanent alternatives, dental implants have a number of benefits. Here are just a few of the reasons you may want to consider getting a dental implant instead of bridges or dentures.
The main purpose of our teeth is for eating, so why would you want a tooth replacement that makes eating difficult? Dentures can slide around while you’re eating, making it difficult to chew. But with a dental implant, it functions just as a regular tooth would. Because the new root of the tooth is embedding in your jawbone, you can bite, chew, and eat without worry.
Dentures that move around or feel unnatural in your mouth can cause you discomfort. You may even spend your days worrying that they will fall out and you’ll be left embarrassed. But with dental implants, they are a permanent option designed to feel just like your regular teeth. After the procedure is done, you won’t even remember that you have false teeth.
Dentures or bridges don’t always go undetected. Although they have become more natural looking, someone may notice that your teeth aren’t natural. Having dentures also means that you need to remove and replace them each day, so you run the risk of someone noticing that your teeth are missing while the dentures are removed. With dental implants, you’re getting a permanent and natural looking smile you’ll be happy to show off.
Better Oral Health
When even just one tooth is missing, your other teeth may begin shifting to fill in the empty space. This means that if you don’t replace your missing tooth, you may find that your whole smile gets out of line. With gaps in your teeth, there are more spaces for food to get stuck and you’ll be less confident in your smile. However, getting a dental implant allows you to fill in the gap to restore confidence levels and maintain your oral health.
These are not all of the benefits that dental implants can bring. If you are considering dental implants as a means to replace a missing or decayed tooth, talk with your dentist about your specific desires or needs.
What Types of Dental Implants Are There?
There are actually two different kinds of dental implants that you may receive. While each kind of implant is typically made with titanium, the location of the implant will influence the style you may need.
- Endosteal Implants: An endosteal implant are the most common kind of dental implant that you may receive. In most cases, this will be the style that your dentist will try to use. An endosteal implant means that the implant goes directly into your jawbone. By drilling a small hole in the jawbone, the implant can go directly into the bone for maximum support.
- Subperiosteal Implants: If your jawbone cannot accommodate the implant, meaning it is too shallow or not strong enough, then the implant may be placed on or above the bone. While this form of dental implant is still better than dentures or bridges, you may find that the same level of support as you would find with an endosteal implant is not there.
Your dentist will help you determine which type of dental implant is right for you.
Who Is Eligible for Dental Implants?
Eligibility for dental implants is not difficult. For the most part, you only need to be able to undergo the surgery to place the implants to qualify. If you have healthy gums, practice good oral hygiene, and have a strong enough jawbone to hold an implant, then dental implants may be right for you.
However, if you are a smoker, you have heart disease or diabetes, or have had radiation therapy in the head or neck, you may not qualify. Your dentist will need to go through a series of other tests to determine if you are able to get dental implants.
How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?
The cost of dental implants will vary from case to case and depend on the amount of work that needs to be done surrounding the procedure. If you only need to replace one tooth, you may only pay a few hundred dollars for your implant. However, the crown attachment can be the most expensive part of the procedure, sometimes costing a few thousand dollars.
If you need to replace a whole row of teeth, dental implants may be extremely expensive. Other influencers for the cost of your dental implants will depend on the number of appointments needed to install the implants and if you need additional treatments or procedures surrounding the surgery.
Health insurance will not usually cover a dental implant procedure. However, each individual’s insurance is different and may be able to provide some financial help. You should contact your insurance provider to determine if you qualify for any assistance or if you will need to pay out of pocket.
Be sure to cover the details of the dental implants cost with your dentist. Because each office is unique and each dentist will have different needs, you should cover expenses before agreeing to go through with getting dental implants.
How to Find Low-Cost Dental Implants
The cost of implants can be quite prohibitive, which means knowing how to save on dental implants is of utmost importance. Fortunately, there are a few ways to obtain implants at a relatively affordable price, some of which are listed below.
You should get quotes from several different dentists to find the lowest price on dental implants. Request a detailed breakdown of the charges and overall cost of the required consultations, materials, imaging scans, anesthesia, modeling, surgery, and any other procedures including sinus lifts and bone grafts.
Charitable Organizations and Dental Societies
Some non-profit charitable organizations and dental societies provide free or discounted dental care for low-income patients, usually during planned events. Some associations offer subsidized dental implants for specific demographic groups such as women, children, domestic violence victims, and people with disabilities. Check out the American Dental Association’s online directory for a list of state and county dental associations.
Dental implant prices vary significantly depending on geographic location. You can, therefore, find the cheapest dental implants by considering a larger geographic area, especially if you reside in one of the major urban cities. As a result of the higher costs of living in the major cities, city dentists generally have higher overhead costs compared to those in small towns, which means urban dentists are more likely to quote higher prices.
Know the Alternatives
The main alternatives to dental implants when it comes to replacing missing or extracted teeth are partial dentures and bridges, particularly if you still have viable abutment teeth for the support of a bridge crown. Although dental bridges are rarely as durable as implants, with proper care they can last for an average of 15 years.
A significant disadvantage of bridges is that the bone in the jaw that supports them under the artificial teeth usually atrophies over time, resulting in failure of the bridge and crown. However, because bridges are bonded to the abutment teeth, you won’t have to remove them for cleaning as is the case with partial and full-mouth dentures.
Schools of Dentistry
You could also take part in a dental implant program such as those held at a school of dentistry for the cheapest dental implants. For recently graduated dentistry school students who want to gain hands-on experience, such programs provide the opportunity to actually perform dental implant procedures, albeit under the supervision of an experienced dental surgeon.
Several students and professors analyze and discuss every diagnosis and treatment, which means the work done is usually high-quality seeing as it’s given so much oversight.
If you are looking for low-cost dental implants, dental tourism could be a viable option. The dental care prices offered in developing countries such as Costa Rica, Mexico, and Hungary could be a fraction of the price you can expect in developed countries including the United States.
Although the savings are usually impressive, you should approach dental tourism with caution. Carefully research the licensing standards and regulations of whatever country you settle on as well as the reputation and credentials of the prospective dentist.
Discount Dental Plans
These are membership-based plans where you can pay yearly or monthly fees to receive dental care discounts ranging from 10-60%. As a participating patient in such a plan, you might be required to use only dentists affiliated with that particular program’s network. The discounts can, however, help you to save a significant amount.
Dental implants are one of the best ways to get a natural and hassle free smile. If you’re tired of slippery dentures or you don’t want to risk damaging other teeth when using a bridge, a dental implant may be the best option for you.
Dental implants are not right for everyone. However, they can give you a natural and comfortable smile after missing or permanently damaging a tooth. If you believe that dental implants are a procedure you would like to follow through with, contact your dentist to begin discussing your options.