Said an urgent email from my cousin who had recently moved to Europe. Being a dentist, I know just how worrisome that situation can be. His broken tooth couldn't be saved, and he would need a dental implant right away. Since he couldn't get back to the states for me to help him, he asked what he should know about dental implants as he searched for a dentist overseas.
Because most people don't have a dentist in the family who they can ask, here's what I told my cousin when he was trying to decide whether to get a dental implant.
Joshua Renken, DDS
It’s not uncommon for patients who need a dental implant to ask others what their experience was, or at least do some Googling to get an idea of what to expect.
It’s important to understand that the process of getting a dental implant is different for everyone. Everyone’s dental health is unique! Your experience may be completely different than a friend or family members.
Each implant procedure has many factors that affect a patient’s experience. Some patients may need only a local anesthetic to place the implant – the same type of anesthetic used for a filling. They may need only the occasional ibuprofen for pain relief after the procedure and be able to go back to work the next day. Other patients may require a more extensive procedure that involves sedation with a specialist surgeon, and a few days of recovery time. Depending on your situation, you could fall anywhere in the range of minimal recovery time to recovery time of a few days.
So, if you’ve been asking friends about their experiences, or looking at stories online, keep in mind that these won’t necessarily apply to you. The best thing to do is to work with a proactive dentist who will take the time to thoroughly explore your unique situation to come up with the best treatment plan for you and can give you a better idea of what to expect with your dental implant.
Standard 2D X-rays are great for looking at the structure of a tooth, but they aren’t as effective for planning for a dental implant procedure. With implants, it’s essential to have complete information about the location of the implant and the surrounding bone structure to make sure the implant is as safe and successful as possible.
Modern dentistry now utilizes 3D imaging technology, which gives doctors much more information than traditional 2D x-rays. Using these scans, your dentist will be able to determine the best implant length and shape for you; it’s essential to make sure that your implant will bypass nerves, blood vessels, and your sinuses. Your doctor can even use this imaging to create a physical guide tool that’s shaped for your mouth, allowing them to place the implant at precisely the right spot.
Our 3D imaging allows us to reliably and successfully replace the teeth you once had and customize the procedure to fit your individual needs.
You might be surprised to learn that you’ll have nearly endless options when choosing the best implant options for you! You and your dentist will discuss how the new implant will be attached, whether you’d like it to be permanent or temporary, and even choose the shade that best matches your natural teeth.
Spend some time thinking about what’s most important to you, and let your dentist know. What do you need to look and feel your best? What are your personal goals when it comes to replacing your tooth?
Your overall health and any medications you take can cause complications with your implant; it’s crucial for your body to be as healthy as possible to make sure that your body can handle the procedure and heal well. Make sure to tell your doctor about any medications you’re taking and any past or current health issues you’re dealing with. Even if they aren’t dental related, they could still impact your body’s ability to heal.
Make sure that your doctor conducts a thorough review of your health before you decide to get an implant so you can be sure to have the best outcome possible!
Implant pricing can vary quite a bit because every procedure and individual is different. Each procedure may require different steps, tools, and methods; the actual tooth removal can also vary quite a bit. Sometimes a bone augmentation is needed; sometimes it isn’t. The implant itself can have many parts to it to make it into a true replacement tooth, such as abutments and crowns.
Many offices price these factors out separately, which can make it tricky to figure out what’s actually covered by your insurance. Even trying to figure out whether sedation will be covered can be confusing! Some dental insurers even have a “missing tooth clause,” which states they won’t cover an implant if the tooth was extracted before the patient’s coverage began.
Your dentist’s office can help you avoid the headache and make pricing and insurance coverage easier to understand. They can send a pre-estimate to your insurance company for approval or offer you a clear bundle pricing to demystify the costs and different steps that will occur during your procedure.
As the patient, you should always have a very clear idea of the care you’re receiving and what the costs are. Don’t start any procedure until you understand and are comfortable with the treatment plan – and never be afraid to ask any questions about the procedure itself or the pricing.