What Dentists Don't Tell You About Dental Implants
What many dentists don’t tell patients about implants is scandalous!
People tend to think that because providers are highly educated and seem to have clean, efficient facilities, that they are all honest and fair.
Some are, but many are not.
Patients pay thousands of dollars for this type of dental work only to find out later that it is not what they thought it was. The most important thing they find out is that standard implants are considered to be permanent; thus removing them when problems arise requires difficult surgery that may have questionable results.
In this article I have included several videos that will provide some useful information. Some of it varies from what I have written here, but be aware that these videos were made by providers from all over the U.S. who have different levels of expertise and who all have a vested interest in promoting these types of devices.
Types of Dental Implants
There are two types of implants:
- Standard, which are longer and wider and have been approved for use by the FDA as supports for individual teeth as well as bridges. And
- Minis, which are shorter and thinner (sometimes toothpick thin) that have only clearly been approved by the FDA for supporting full arch bridges.
There is a great deal of controversy about the second type because many dentists are now offering them as supports for single teeth. Some dentists refuse to use them at all. Others are using them to support the full arch bridges, and some are using them to replace individual teeth.
The FDA has taken a clouded stance on this issue. Thus it is unclear as to whether they have approved them at all for permanent use or even have approved all types, sizes and models, even for temporary use. In fact, they refer to the minis as “screws” rather than implants.
This online discussion from the Osseo News shows just how confusing the entire issue is, even for practitioners. It was written in 2006, so there may have been improvements in understanding since that time.
The standard implant has three parts:
- the implant itself
- an abutment
- a crown
Each is priced separately. So, when you call to request pricing, what you generally hear is the price for the unit itself, not the total package.
The total package, properly done, can cost between $3,000 and $5,000 per tooth depending on your location and provider. Having this work done requires many office visits and usually takes a year to complete. Most dental insurance plans do not cover this type of work.
Patients should have an oral surgeon or periodontist install this device. When they do, patients then have to use a general dentist or prosthedontist to install the crown.
The problem is that you must choose doctors who uses the same type of systems. Otherwise, you can have issues.
You can avoid them, you can have a generalist do all of the work. Unfortunately, many of them to not have enough training to do the job correctly.
Mini Dental Implants
These devices initially appear to help patients avoid many of the initial pitfalls discussed above.
- They are an “all in one” unit that is less invasive and can be installed in one day, even when they are used to support full mouth ridge dental plates.
- They also can cost considerably less when individually placed.
This is, however, is where the benefits end.
Aside from a few practices which specialize in one day total bridge replacement, most of minis are only installed by generalists. Many others refuse to use them because they do not find them structurally sound.
Patient risks are significant because:
- there is no way of knowing whether the implants being used are the brands and types that have been approved by the FDA,
- Few general dentists have the expertise that is required to install them properly and
- prices can rise exponentially. (The average cost for one tooth can be upwards of $1800. For one full bridge patients will pay anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000.)
Issues To Consider
If people think that using only specialists to do their work and spending tens of thousands of dollars will fix their problems, they should think again.
Both types of devices are fraught with problems that are in addition to the ones mentioned above. Here is the information you need to know:
- carry no guarantees whatsoever,
- can require additional surgeries such as bone grafts and sinus lifts (all very costly),
- can and sometimes do fail after a certain number of years (usually around 10)
- can cause nerve damage and facial paralysis,
- are effected by certain medications such as those used to treat Osteoporosis,
- removal and replacement are painful and expensive procedures that take a great deal of time and
- need specialized and more costly cleanings more often (usually 4 times yearly).
- have all of the same problems as standards (except for number 2) and also
- are at greater risk for breakage and
- are risky to use for any other procedure other than as supports for full arch bridges and
- are riskier in general for all procedures due to their small size.
Why Full Disclosure Is Rarely Provided
In many cases, dentists (including specialists) do not inform people about the potential risks unless patients specifically ask them for this information because they do not want to frighten them. Doing so could also produce significant financial consequences.
As a result, they are sometimes less than honest. Just two days ago one local provider told me that if a mini fails, it does not have to be surgically removed. It will simply “fall out”!
Most people are basically clueless about this issue and simply trust that their dentist is going to provide them with a service that improves their problems and will be a permanent answer for them.
Obviously this is not true all of the time.
Much depends on
- how well the patient takes care of his general health and his teeth,
- which medications he takes,
- whether he has accidents that affect his implants,
- The quality of the implants used and
- the quality of the work his dentist has provided.
It is very difficult to know what will happen in the future, so people must proceed at their own risk.
Get The Facts Before You Decide
This article is quite clear about what people can expect when they are dealing with the issue of implants.
To find this information I did the following:
- spoke with several dentists, both specialists and generalists,
- spoke with a dental office manager to get some insights,
- had several dental evaluations,
- contacted a local university’s implant center and
- did extensive research on the internet.
I would have also contacted my state’s insurance commissioner and dental board to see if any of my dentists were truly licensed, guilty of any wrongdoing or had a history of patient complaints, but by the time I did my initial research, I already had decided against having this type of work done.
What Should You Do
Having said all of this, I realize that these procedures can be beneficial to some as well as a necessity for others.
If you feel they are your only option, do plenty of research so that you can give yourself the best opportunity for a successful outcome.
Knowing the pros and cons of implant procedures is extremely important. If dentists won’t give you the facts, research them yourself so that you won’t get hurt.
Were you aware of these facts before reading this article?
Questions & Answers
© 2015 Sondra Rochelle