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Dental Implants 101

Dental Implants 101

March 21, 2005
By: Jean Johnson for Dental1

Will it hurt? Will I have to go without teeth at any point? How much is this going to set me back?

That’s the triad of questions folks generally ask about dental implants once they get in to see their specialist. There are a number of other queries patients might pose - like how do they make sure the implants won’t come loose and what the longevity of implants tends to be, not to mention success rates - so expect the low down on those topics in subsequent articles on Dental1.com. For starters, though, the basics can give patients at least some edge when they feel their head setting into place as the dentist chair tilts back.

On the pain score, most patients are pleasantly surprised to find the office surgery and its aftermath pretty much a cake walk - even less troublesome than having a tooth removed. Still, there’s the option of sedation during the appointment for those that are apprehensive, as well as the ever abundant pain pills for afterwards if needed. Generally, though, since there are no nerves in the jawbone, Ibuprofen handles what discomfort there is once the Novocain wears off.

Cost for Implants
Consider the Variables

Number of implants needed

Type of replacement teeth desired

Additional procedures to enhance the look and feel of your new smile

Folks do go home with stitches, of course. So during the first 7 - 10 days treat tender gums with good old comfort food designed to help the healing process along. Things like a well-baked potato topped with creamy gorgonzola along side steamed asparagus that melts in your mouth. Then again, there’s always the world of fruit or savory smoothies. Whatever you end up slicing and dicing, keep an eye on Vitamin C rich foods from citrus to Brussels sprouts. Vitamin C helps form collagen, a glue-like fibrous protein in bone.
On the missing teeth problem, the word is that the specialists can keep their patients covered, particularly when cosmetic issues right up front are involved. Temporary devices are available during the healing phase which can last up to six months while the bone fuses to the implant screws. So except possibly immediately following surgery on molars, rest assured that your people will send you out of the office with choppers of a sort in place.

The money part of dental implants isn’t quite the skate the actual procedure is. In fact it can leave one a bit breathless. Costs range throughout the country, but in Portland, Ore., expect to pay just under $2,000 a piece. Dentists price smartly, of course, to avoid sticker shock. At one office where a vase of fresh flowers greets folks, numbered prints hang on wall and the prosthodontist makes sure that he’s accessible, the fee is $1,975. Another office that skips the ambience and has long wait times for appointments because the dentist lectures around the country, offers pricing ranging from $1,850 to $1,900. Also, when you get more than one implant, it drops to $1,750. For the budget minded, the local teaching hospital is an option. At Portland’s Oregon Health Sciences University Dental School where patients have their work done in curtained off supervised settings, implants cost $1,500.

Bear in mind that the quoted fees are for setting the actual implants only. Once they are in and fused, there are costs associated with the crown and bridge work to expect.

Still, for aging baby boomers, implants are increasingly the choice since the devices can restore smiles marred from single missing teeth or go the distance and essentially keep those who have experienced excessive tooth loss out of the dreaded world of dentures. Once in place dental implants function like normal teeth, and people who haven’t bitten into an apple for years tend to smile rather broadly as they get on with the business of savoring life.

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