You’ve probably seen some commercials on TV about dental implants. “They’re Great!” “You can have one today!” While those statements may be true, there’s still a lot to discuss when it comes to deciding: is getting a dental implant worth it or, should I get dental implants, yes or no?
In this article, we’d like to have a frank conversation with you about dental implants. We’re going to share some of the things we’ve heard our patients say, and the questions they ask us (or themselves) when considering implants, including, from our experience, the top stories people tell to themselves when deciding whether to get dental implants.
Then we’re going to answer those questions for you – directly. No double speak, no convincing. Just the facts. The way you’d want a friend or someone you trust to tell you.
Dental Implants, Yes or No? 4 Stories People With Missing Teeth Tell Themselves About Dental Implants
Should I get a dental implant, yes or no? Is getting a dental implant worth it?
We’re going to answer these questions and many more and we’re not going to sugar coat anything. Besides, sugar’s bad for our teeth, anyway, right?
“I’m Too Old for Dental implants”
We’ve also heard someone say, “It’s too late for me”. Too late for what? What does “old” even mean?
There is no age where people who have a full set of their own teeth have to turn them over to the tooth fairy, we promise. You don’t have to automatically give up your teeth when you retire, or when you’re eligible for AARP. Right? Of course not.
Age is relative. Age is not what we use specifically to assess candidacy for dental implants. Our golden years should be spent enjoying our retirement or with our growing families. There’s no reason any of us need to lose our ability to smile, or age prematurely due to missing teeth, or eat healthy and stay fit – just because we’re getting older. Losing our teeth does not have to be an expected rite of passage when growing older. This statement usually leads to the next reason:
“I Don’t Deserve to Have an Implant”
We hear this a whole lot more often than you may think, and far more often than we’d like. We see patients who are missing some or all of their teeth, and regardless even of age, have told us that they don’t feel like they “deserve” tooth implants, or any tooth replacement option, for that matter. This is a lot to unpack.
There are a lot of reasons people lose their teeth. Sometimes it’s a matter of genes. Dental health can be hereditary. Cancer and diabetes can affect our oral health. Drug use and abuse. Fear of visiting a dental office because of bad experiences as a child, or even just fear of the unknown can keep people away from the dentist until it’s too late to save a tooth. Traumatic injuries and accidents. And yes, sometimes we just don’t do a very good job brushing and flossing.
Just like age, there is no law that governs who does and does not “deserve” to smile and feel confident while doing it, or to have a healthy lifestyle. Dental implants, as with any other tooth replacement option, require care and maintenance. If you’re a good candidate for dental implants, and you’re willing and able to take care of your oral health starting now, don’t you deserve a healthy smile? We think so.
“Dental Implants are too Expensive”
Aah, there it is. Well, dental implants are not something we would consider “cheap,” either.
Implants are made with the same kind of surgical metals used in other implant surgeries, such as hip replacements. Implant placement is a surgery, and sometimes bone grafting is required to help improve the chances of osseointegration. Placing the implant accurately and safely requires knowledge, skill, and experience. The abutment and crown that covers the implant should be high-quality and durable.
We can use the analogy that a dental implant is the same cost as X cups of coffee per day. Or it’s Z dollars less than the amount we spend on stuff we don’t need at Target. We’ve calculated that before. But what is the actual cost of a dental implant? Or, more to the point, what is the cost of missing teeth in how you live your life?
The average American age 35-49 is missing 7 teeth. The inability to eat and chew healthy food due to a lack of teeth can have a direct impact on our weight, our digestive system and truly our whole body health. So then, how much will living with missing teeth cost us on our health care expenses over our lifetime?
Teeth are the one of the first things we see when looking at another person’s face. A healthy smile is a must for many of us when judging attractiveness, or when considering a candidate for a job position. Can you put a price tag on a missed job opportunity? What about confidence? If we put a dollar in a jar for each time we hid our smile, how quickly would that add up?
Dental implants are often considered “cosmetic” rather than restorative by insurance carriers. We fully reject this notion. We believe that healthy teeth are not a luxury – they are a necessity. Of course, we can live full and wonderful lives without teeth, but that doesn’t mean we should have to.
“I’m Afraid of the Dental Implant Procedure”
Many people are afraid of what they don’t know.
That same fear is what keeps people from visiting the dentist until they have an emergency. They’re often afraid of the implant procedure in general or anxious about how painful they think the procedure could be. We’ve heard people say, “I’ve heard tooth implant horror stories!” We take dental implants seriously. It’s a surgery that carries its own set of risks and benefits and we can’t tell you that dental implants do not hurt. Each person is different and, like any surgery, they experience pain, discomfort, and recovery differently. We evaluate patients carefully to ensure they have the best chance for a successful implant procedure.
BONUS: My missing tooth does not bother me. Is going through the whole process and expense of a dental implant worth it for just one tooth?
A reader asked this question in the comment section. It’s an excellent question and another one we hear often. We’d like to thank him or her for such a great question that is on the minds of a lot of folks:
Is it necessary to go through the trouble to replace the tooth with an implant or pursue another option such as a bridge, if it isn’t visible, and it isn’t bothering me? When we are missing a tooth (or teeth), the teeth around it bear the additional stress of chewing. This can result in cracking, or other stress which can contribute to dental caries. Many people who are missing one or more back teeth actually compensate by chewing on only one side. That can cause TMJ issues, and will cause the other side of the jaw (bone and muscle) to weaken. Our jaw bone is kept strong and dense by chewing (like exercising). One missing tooth can eventually cause weakening of the bone and connective tissue, affecting the teeth around it. Implants function in the same way as a tooth, by fusing with the bone – a process called osseointegration. This keeps the bone strong and healthy – and increases the likelihood of being able to keep the rest of the teeth healthy and intact. Each person is different – variations in bone density and other factors can impact our overall oral health. One of the biggest factors that can influence dental implant success is time. If you are missing a tooth or teeth, a conversation with a dentist – sooner, rather than later – can provide you with a lot more information regarding your individual oral health, and can help you review the potential benefits versus concerns you may have.
Weighing Your Options – Dental Implant Risks and Benefits
It’s important to talk about dental implant risks and benefits, and not just gloss over them. We like when dental implants are successful – so much so that we guarantee ours for life. The biggest enemy of fear is information. Sometimes all we need to do is just take a deep breath, and go – but go informed. In our next blog, we’ll help outline some of the ways you can address those fears by becoming familiar with the risks and benefits of dental implants, and how you can find the best dental implant provider in your area.
Have you been deciding whether to get a dental implant? What’s holding you back? Share in the comments below!