Pros & Cons of Dental Implants

By Sherry Mitchell

Dental implants are one of the most innovative techniques to be developed in the field of dentistry. Those with missing teeth no longer have to settle for removable dentures or suffer from embarrassment. Most people are unable to tell the difference between a natural tooth and one that has been implanted. Although many rave over the results of the surgery, there are some down sides.

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are individual, man-made teeth, usually constructed of porcelain. A small titanium rod attached to the bottom of the tooth is implanted into the patient's jawbone, serving as a root or anchor to keep the tooth in place. Although the implanted rod is permanent, the false tooth attached will need to be replaced over a 10 to 15 year period, just as a crown or bridge.

Pros of Dental Implants

Dental implants can help to restore a youthful appearance. In the case where a tooth has been extracted, dental implants also help to keep the immediate bone area from shrinking, keeping you from looking older. For those who need just one tooth replaced--when the adjoining teeth are in sound condition--an implant can be used rather than a bridge, which consists of three crowns fused together. This can prevent additional procedures on the teeth on each side of the extraction area. Most dental implants are very natural looking and feel better, especially when eating, as opposed to dentures and bridges.

Cons of Dental Implants

Dental implants require numerous visits to the dentist. In the event of a complication, the patient could expect regular visits for several years. As with all surgeries, dental implants can be painful, and your dentist may need to prescribe pain medication following the procedure. Success rates for dental implants are good. In fact, that success rate is about 95 percent, but dental implants can fail. Those who smoke, have uncontrolled diabetes, or other health problems can often expect a lower success rate. Other common occurrences include infections and breakage of the tooth itself. In rare cases, dental implants have perforated the sinus cavity or nerve.

Cost of Dental Implants

For those on a fixed income, dental implants are considerably more expensive than dentures, partials or fixed bridges. Because the procedure is considered a surgery and can often require multiple visits, the cost can range from $850 to $3,500 per tooth. Depending on your particular dental plan, implant surgery may or may not be covered.

Who Can Perform Dental Implant Surgery?

Currently, dental implant surgery is not recognized as a specialty by the American Dental Association. There are approved programs that offer training in this area for regular dentists. However, more often, the procedures are performed by either oral surgeons or periodontists.

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