Are they right for you?
By Jeanene Dunn, OHM Staff
Shannon* recently discovered that she had a rare dental abnormality called non syndromic oligodontia, that would cause her to lose some of her teeth. Those teeth were baby teeth that never came out and were starting to cause jaw pain and discomfort. “My condition stumped my dentist, who has been practicing for more than 20 years,” explains Shannon. “One of the baby teeth had one very long adult root, and two baby teeth roots. It was really strange.”
After discussing treatment options with her dentist, the teeth had to be extracted (pulled). “I was less worried about having the teeth pulled than what my smile would look like afterward,” says Shannon.
After the extractions, Shannon made a decision to replace the lost teeth. She chose to get dental implants, a permanent replacement that would fit in with her natural teeth.
Like Shannon, Americans face similar situations every day. According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, 35 million Americans are missing teeth in one or both jaws and 15 million Americans replace their missing teeth with crowns and bridges.
Caresa Doakes, DDS, a Kansas City-area Dentist and owner of The Smile Salon, says that more patients are interested in dental implants to replace missing teeth. “The great benefit of dental implants is that they help to maintain bone health and can last years without the need for replacement.” Dr. Doakes explains.
What are dental implants?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is placed into the jawbone to hold a replacement tooth or bridge. The most commonly used implant method involves placing a screw into the jawbone. The screw serves as the root for the replacement tooth or teeth. During the healing process, which can take months, the bone bonds to the implant(s).
Dental implants typically include three parts:
- The implant – the screw that permanently attaches to your jaw.
- The abutment – the connector that will support and hold the tooth or set of teeth.
- The crown – also known as the prosthetic tooth is usually made of zirconium or porcelain.
Are dental implants right for me?
It depends on your oral and overall health. “Optimally, a patient should have healthy bones and gums,” says Dr. Doakes. “Diseases like osteoporosis and diabetes that is not well managed may prevent a patient from getting dental implants. Also, treatments that weaken bones, like chemotherapy and radiation may make implants unsuitable for some patients.”
How much does it cost?
Dental implants are expensive. A single tooth ranges between $3,000 and $4,000 and a full set of teeth $20,000 or more. It’s an important decision. For patients like Shannon, the cost for her dental implants is well worth the cost of restoring her smile.
*Not her real name
American Academy of Implant Dentistry