Dental implants -- surgically implanted artificial teeth that work, look, and feel just like the real thing -- are considered the state of the art in modern restorative dentistry. Unfortunately, many of the people who could benefit most from the procedure shy away from it due to "sticker shock" over the cost, which can run several thousands of dollars per implant. The truth, however, is dental implants can actually save you money over other options in the long run. Here are some of the ways you can enjoy greater cost effectiveness by choosing dental implants.
You'll Spend Less on Repairs
When the titanium post that makes up the root of your implant is installed in your jaw, the surrounding bone actually fuses with it to create a permanent base for a porcelain crown. An implant is intended to be a lifelong solution to that gap between your natural teeth. You might pay less up front for a bridge or partial denture, but these prosthetics are notoriously delicate and prone to breakage. The money you saved by selecting these options disappears pretty quickly when you find yourself purchasing multiple replacements over the next several decades.
Even if your non-permanent dental appliance doesn't break, you shouldn't expect it to last a lifetime without some serious alterations and the occasional total replacement. Because you no longer have permanent tooth roots in that part of your mouth, the jawbone is subject to progressive bone loss, causing slippage and discomfort that requires re-lining or even replacing dental appliances. Cheaper dentures are also poor economy because the acrylic "teeth" tend to wear down, forcing eventual replacement. Dental implants solve both the bone loss problem and the wear-and-tear problem with their metal "roots" and strong porcelain crowns.
Better Health Is Healthier for Your Bank Account
Implants also provide greater chewing efficiency than other forms of dental work. Removable dentures, for example, are estimated to restore only about 20 percent of a patient's former chewing ability. By contrast, implants restore full chewing ability because they never slip or slide around in the mouth.
How does this save you money? Bear in mind that chewing is a critical factor in the digestion of food and the absorption of nutrients. A lifetime of impaired chewing can easily lead to chronic malnutrition, which in turn can produce a variety of serious health complaints -- maladies that may well ring up considerable medical bills in the years to come. By maintaining your chewing ability with dental implants, you can focus more on basic preventative wellness instead of expensive treatments.
Dental Implants Require Only Normal Care
If you have bridges or dentures, you may spend less for the initial appliances that you would for implants, but the spending won't stop there. Removable dental appliances typically require elaborate hygiene care involving the use of special cleaning solutions, while securing dentures in the mouth may require dental adhesives. These don't sound like significant expenses, but over the years (and decades) the money will add up.
Implants don't require any of those special materials. They're "built in" so there's no need for adhesive, and they clean quite nicely with ordinary brushing and flossing techniques. (It's worth noting, however, you still need to take care of your gums and keep all your dental checkup appointments so you can periodontal disease, which could weaken the tissues that hold them in place.) the fact that you never remove your implants, not even for cleaning, also eliminates any risk of accidental breakage or other expensive mishaps.
You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that even after you choose dental implants, there are some options that cost less than others. For instance, you can replace a whole upper or lower jaw's worth of teeth with dentures affixed to a mere handful of posts, instead of having a separate implants made for each and every missing tooth. Some teeth can use smaller micro-posts instead of full-sized posts, another potential cost savings. Talk to your dentist about what kind of dental implant makes the most sense for your smile, your overall health, and your long-term financial well being!