If you have a dental problem that threatens the life of one or more of your teeth, your dentist or oral surgeon may recommend getting dental implants to replace the missing teeth. One of the most common questions we receive is, “Are dental implants worth it?” There are certainly less expensive options available — for example, root canals, crowns, bridges or even dentures — but does that mean those options are right for you?
Dental implants are a permanent solution for missing teeth, and we encourage you to read our Patient’s Guide to Dental Implants for more information. For now, let’s look at this question from a few different angles to help you determine whether dental implants are a good investment for you.
Cost over Time Considerations
One way to look at the question is to consider the cost of each solution over time. So let’s look at your options from that perspective:
Option 1: Do nothing
If you lose a tooth, the cheapest thing to do in the short-term is not to replace it at all. However, leaving a vacancy in the mouth can cause all sorts of other complications, including infections, shifting teeth and mouth deformities — all of which can add up to thousands of dollars in dental bills down the road. So this option isn’t very cost-effective long-term.
Option 2: Conventional fixes (e.g., dentures, crowns, bridges)
Getting dentures or a bridge is considerably less expensive than getting implants, but bear in mind that these must generally be replaced every 5-10 years. If you replace a single crown four times over 20 years, you’re not saving much money in the long run (not to mention the inconvenience of those repeated dental visits).
Option 3: Permanent implants
Dental implants are considered permanent, and with proper care can last a lifetime. So while they are the most expensive option up front, the cost over time may make them the better investment.
Another factor to consider is a person’s age — in other words, how long the replacement needs to last. Implants are generally not recommended for children, for example, because they are still losing baby teeth and/or their jaws are still developing. On the other side of the spectrum, someone in their 70s might not benefit as much from implants as someone in their 30s who would otherwise be looking at multiple bridge/crown replacements over time.
While you can’t really put a price on healthy teeth, for many people, their insurance might come into play in deciding whether implants are worth it. Some dental insurance will cover crowns and bridges, for example, but won’t cover the cost of implants. Some insurance plans will cover some of the cost of implants; few will cover it completely. Obviously, your coverage will weigh into what solutions you can afford, as well as the long-term costs.
All these considerations aside, looking at the question completely from a dental health perspective…there is no perfect substitute for your real teeth, and if we can save the tooth, we always recommend doing so. However, dental implants usually provide the next best solution with the least amount of risk for complications — and from that perspective, they can definitely be worth the cost. To learn more about the option of dental implants and determine whether they are right for you, call Riverside Oral and Facial Surgery today at (706) 235-5570.