The first time you meet with Dr. Fink is critical. Much of the planning for the rest of the treatment will be done during the first consultation. The dentist will assess the health of the teeth and jaw bone. You will also need diagnostic imaging during this visit. Physicians have relied on computerized axial tomography scans (CAT) for years. Today, many dentists rely on 3D imaging scans to provide a detailed view of the mouth and skull. 3D scans are quick and straightforward to perform. A Cone Beam Imaging System is at the heart of the 3D scanner. The cone beam is used to take hundreds of pictures of the face. These pictures are used to compile an exact 3D image of the face and jaw’s inner mechanisms.
After the initial consultation, you are scheduled for surgery implantation, where the dentist will place the actual dental implants, and the new teeth are fitted and adjusted. While these won’t be your final implants, you will leave our office after this visit with beautiful, fixed, functional teeth.
After 3-6 months, when the implants are fused to the natural bone, the dentist will take new impressions of your mouth and prepare a final, stronger, permanent set of teeth adjusted to a perfect fit. This approach helps ensure that the teeth will last for decades and provide maximum support, beauty, and function to the patient.
Dental implants fall into the category of restoration dentistry and have their own subcategory called implantology. Implant surgery can be done by a periodontist, a dentist, or a dentist with advanced implantology training. Because of the specialist training necessary to perform the procedure, it’s common for the dental professional to charge a higher fee than other services.
Some patients may choose to undergo a general anesthetic during the dental implant procedure, meaning the patient is asleep for the whole procedure. This approach is more expensive and requires an anesthesiologist to be present for the entire surgery. It’s more common to perform the procedure using a local anesthetic, meaning the areas the dentist is working on are numbed, but the patient is awake. Some patients might be too nervous during the procedure if they are awake. If this is a problem, you should consider asking for a sedative to ease your anxiety if you’ll be under local anesthetic.
Patients who have lost a lot of bone may also require bone grafts. Bone grafts are performed in a separate procedure, several months before the implant is placed, and will require several months to heal and for the graft to fuse into the regular bone. This extra procedure will, of course, mean additional costs. This also means you won't be able to have the procedure done in one trip since the graft will take time to grow into the bone, and you need to allow tissues to heal.
The type of material used in the crown can make a big difference. Crowns made of acrylic resin are the most affordable but don’t look nearly as natural as ceramic crowns or porcelain crowns. Porcelain and ceramic also tend to be stronger, which is another reason they’re preferred for visible teeth. Resin crowns are also much less durable and will need to be replaced much sooner than other materials. Overall, the best quality starts with a solid block of Prettau® Zirconia, hand-colored and polished to match natural teeth and gums and anchored to the implants. Zirconia bridges achieve a bite and smile that is virtually indistinguishable from healthy, natural teeth and gums and can withstand significant pressure and resist chipping, fractures, and wear.
Which teeth are being replaced also influences the cost of treatment. Front teeth are much more challenging for the surgeon to work on and require more skill to make the implant look like a natural tooth. As a rule, visible teeth tend to be more expensive, and the surgery tends to be longer.
Dental Implants Are More Cost-Effective in the Long Run
While more expensive than dentures, dental implants are the more cost-effective option for dental restoration, and provide a more natural, secure, longer-lasting solution. Other options, such as a tooth-supported bridge, have a limited lifespan and must be replaced. The American Dental Association reports that the average bridge must be replaced every 10.1 years. However, clinical studies have shown that implant-supported crowns (like we're discussing here) are effective at 20+ years in 95% of cases. This study shows a 98.8% 10-year survival rate of dental implants, which means the implants will almost certainly outlast bridges. Other studies have shown the effectiveness of dental implants in the shorter term. This Swedish study showed a 98.2% survival rate of the implant (Not for patients; there were no fatalities reported in the study!) over 32 months with the immediately loaded implants. Implants may be more expensive up-front, but over time their superior value and lifespan mean you'll be saving money in the long run.