In the long term, dental implants offer very good value for money, says Clapham dentist Jignesh Patel.
When a patient loses a tooth, there are a number of factors that they may consider when deciding on the best way to replace it. The three main options available are a denture, a bridge or dental implants.
Each has its pros and cons, and even the one that perhaps offers the least secure option, dentures, can be a suitable choice for anyone who wishes to avoid having an invasive procedure to replace the missing tooth.
Increasingly however, our Confidental Clinic patients are turning towards dental implants as the best solution to restore their smile. Most dentists, and a growing number of patients, would agree that this method offers the most benefits, not only for its natural appearance, but also the strength of the replacement tooth, as well as longevity.
Overcoming the ‘fear factor’
The initial barrier for some patients is the thought of the procedure that is necessary in order to place teeth implants. If this is solely understood from an article on the internet, or elsewhere, it may give rise to concerns about discomfort during the procedure. This is not the experience of the vast majority of patients that have implants placed, and we recommend that if you are considering them, you have a consultation with our implant team, on a ‘no obligation’ basis. We find that when patients have a better understanding of the procedure, and are able to have their questions answered by a professional, this helps to reduce any anxiety about the procedure.
We also offer a range of support services, at our Clapham practice that help patients to undergo this procedure with the minimum of stress. We will discuss this in more detail during the consultation.
The cost of dental implants
Perhaps one of the biggest barriers to more people having implants, rather than dentures or bridges, is the cost. There is no argument, that, as far as initial costs go, both dentures and bridges are a cheaper option, but does this mean that they are better value in the longer term?
Before we look at the actual financial side, it is worth noting that, in addition to being the strongest of the three options, dental implants also achieve something that the other two fail to do; namely, protect the bone density in the area where the tooth has been lost.
When a tooth has been lost, the bone in that area is reabsorbed by the body for use elsewhere. Although this is a relatively small amount of bone, its loss can lead to gradual facial shape changes. This is one of the key reasons why dentures can sometimes become a little unstable, as the shape of the mouth changes. Bone loss and the subsequent changes can also lead to older looking facial features in some instances.
With regards to the actual cost of the procedure, dental implants are the most expensive of the three. However, if we look over the longer term, this cost effectively comes down significantly.
If you have dentures fitted, you may find them not to offer the level of function and comfort that you had hoped for. This can lead to frustration, and even potential embarrassment, as they move around when you are eating. Dentures also need to be removed regularly, and breakages, during the cleaning, are not uncommon. They may also need to be changed or updated from time to time, adding to the initial cost.
With the inconvenience and sometimes discomfort associated with dentures, some patients eventually decide that they are not for them and move on to other options, thereby ‘wasting’ their initial investment.
Whilst a dental bridge will prevent some of the problems above, there can be a need for ongoing maintenance surrounding this type of restoration. Gum disease can be a problem where patient fails to clean sufficiently well beneath the bridge, and there is also the risk of decay on the teeth adjacent to the gap which support the bridge.
Dental implants can fail, it is true. However, this is very rare and, in the vast majority of cases, is due to poor aftercare on the part of the patient. There is very little reason why this should occur though. At the Confidental Clinic in Clapham, we have a very high success rate with implant placement, and you can be sure that you will be in very safe and experienced hands if you have the procedure carried out here.
Once we have placed your implants, that is not the end of the matter as far as we are concerned. We will make sure that they are are monitored, especially during the crucial first few months when they are most vulnerable. We will also offer advice and recommend the best ways to look after your new implants. Compared to the somewhat ‘fiddly’ cleaning that is needed for both dentures and bridges, dental implants are simplicity themselves. As a basic guide, you can treat your implant as you would a natural tooth, and regular good quality brushing and flossing should leave you with healthy implants for a very long time. We also recommend regular scale and polishes, as we would for all of our patients.
With regards to the cost, yes, dental implants are not the cheapest option, especially with regards to initial outlay, but if you look after your implant, you will get many years of use from them. Twenty years of life is not uncommon with some still fully functional after more than thirty years. Apart from ongoing monitoring, there should be no need for any further work on the implant, providing that you look after it as mentioned above. If you divide the initial cost by the number of expected years life it should give you, implants suddenly seem a more financially viable option!
If finance is a concern for you, we are pleased to offer payment plans that can help you to spread your payments over a period of time.
We are always happy to discuss any aspect of teeth implants with our Clapham patients, including the cost. If you would like to take up the offer of a free initial consultation with us, please call the Confidental Clinic on 020 7801 9060.
Jignesh Patel, dentist at the Confidental Clinic – GDC 81168