Dental implants are often the best option for people who have lost one, some, or even all of their natural teeth. At Dove Dental Care in Derby, our implant team has helped scores of patients of all ages to restore not just their confidence in their smile but also their ability to enjoy a full, healthy and balanced diet with the help of implants.
How do dental implants work?
Dental implants work by mimicking natural tooth roots. In essence, they are artificial roots, placed straight into your jaw bone in a small operation carried out here at our Derby dental practice. The placement of implants is precisely planned by your dentist using the latest software to ensure that they are in the optimum position to support your new teeth, withstanding the forces generated by biting and chewing, as well as avoiding nerves and other vital structures.
Once they have been placed, your dentist will leave your implants to mesh with your jaw bone for a couple of months, after which you will be called back to our Derby practice for your new teeth to be attached.
Your replacement teeth will either be crowns, dentures, or a bridge, depending on your clinical lead. If you have been struggling with poorly-fitting dentures for a while, the implant dentists at our Derby practice can also use dental implants to stabilise your dentures, restoring your ability to eat a healthy diet including all your favourite foods.
Dental implants help to prevent bone loss, which is a common side-effect of having missing teeth. Without the roots in place, the bone has a tendency to shrink back. Implants help to alleviate this problem because they replace the roots, and because they are made from titanium they also support healthy bone growth.
As more people consider their options to replace missing teeth we thought it would be useful to write a blog post about the cost of dental implants, how to keep cost low and the factors that make up the cost.
Many people are also tempted to travel abroad for their dental implants in an attempt to reduce the costs, we will also spend some time looking at this.
Factors that make up the cost of a dental implant.
In order to understand about the cost of dental implants and how to keep it low one needs to understand the factors that make up the cost of the dental implant. You can then decide which of these factors are most important to you and then decide which of them may need to be modified for you to reduce the cost.
Factors that make up the cost of the dental implant can include:
- Pre-treatment consultations and diagnostics.
- Appointments throughout the procedure, typically around 10.
- The implant surgeon’s fee.
- The dental implant itself.
- The abutment which screws onto the top of the dental implant.
- The precision screw, often made of gold which fixes the abutment onto the dental implant.
- The dental implant Crown/bridge/denture which fixes over the top of the implant and is the final replacement of the missing tooth.
- Possible dental sedation during treatment.
- Postsurgical appointments to check on healing.
As you can see, there are quite a few things which make up the overall cost, let’s look at a few of them in turn.
Pre-treatment consultations and diagnostics.
When you first decide that you want to replace missing teeth you have a consultation at the dental practice. Some practices offer free consultations as a risk-free way of visiting them and asking the many questions you may have.
As part of the implant diagnostic procedure you will have x-rays taken which will often include some form of 3-D scan, possibly using a CT scan. This generates highly detailed images which allow the dental implants surgeon to plan exactly where the implant will be placed so that it is in the maximum amount of bone yet avoids the nerves and other teeth.
Sometimes the dental implants surgeon will also use digital planning techniques. This allows them to virtually place the dental implant in a computer simulation prior to the actual surgery.
In conjunction with this, your dentist will also take dental implant impressions which will be sent to a dental laboratory. The dental laboratory will then use this replication of your jaw to create a prototype which can be tried in to your mouth to ensure everything is in the right place prior to surgery.
This process normally takes up about four appointments.
Appointments throughout the procedure.
Appointments throughout the implant procedure may include:
- Pre-treatment consultation to answer your concerns and explain the process.
- X-rays and/or CT scans.
- Diagnostic records and impressions taken which are sent to the laboratory.
- Try in of the prototype made by the dental laboratory.
- The dental implant surgical placement procedure.
- Various appointments to check the healing of the dental implant.
- Implant impressions taken for the final restoration/denture.
- Try in of the partially fabricated final restoration/denture.
- Fitting of the final restoration/denture.
- Follow-up appointments to ensure everything is working as planned.
Sometimes this procedure is shortened if the treatment is particularly simple however the converse is also true and it may be longer if the treatment is complicated by the addition of extra surgical phases e.g. bone grafting.
The implant surgeon’s fee.
Dental implants are usually either place by your dentist that has a special interest in dental implants or by a Specialist Periodontist.
Dentists can take diplomas in Implant Dentistry which gives them the necessary skills and training to place dental implants. Sometimes your dental implant will be placed by Specialist Periodontist these are dentists that have a postgraduate Masters degree in periodontology, they will also be a registrant on the specialist list of the General Dental Council.
A regular dental degree takes five years, with the additional training of either the diploma or a specialism in periodontics you know that the person placing your dental implants will have had extensive training. This time and commitment to educating themselves and protecting you, the patient will always come with a relevant cost.
If you’re looking to keep costs down of dental implants and are considering going to a dentist without additional training we recommend that you ask to see any certificates which demonstrate that they are competent in placing dental implants.
The dental implant itself, the abutment and components.
A dental implant is a precision made piece of engineering. The implants itself is made from high-grade medical titanium, the body does not recognise titanium as a foreign object making it the ideal material to be used.
However, it’s not the material used that makes the implant expensive, it is the precision engineering. Each implant component is made with tolerances of thousands of a millimetre. This is to ensure an extremely snug fit between all of the components, if the fit is loose then the various components can begin to wobble.
As this wobble happens components loosen and tension is formed within them, this tension can eventually lead to failure.
This is one of the areas which many patients find they can make considerable savings. The cost of the dental implants themselves vary considerably from manufacturer to manufacturer. It is however worth paying the extra amount of money for a high-quality dental implant. High-quality implants are made to more exacting tolerances and happy customer support of companies that have been in the industry for many years.
It’s possible to buy cheap dental implants but these are often made quicker and less accurately. They also don’t have the customer service follow-up that you might expect. What happens if a component fails? You always want to be sure that you can go back to the original manufacturer to purchase extra components such as screws. If the manufacturer has gone out of business then you may have to have the dental implant removed surgically and a new one place! Not a particularly good thing to do…
Using dental implant manufacturers that have a history of being reliable means that in the unlikely event that any components fail your dentist can go back to the original manufacturer to purchase more.
The dental implant crowns/bridge/denture.
Once your dental implant has been placed and everything has healed up nicely you can progress to having the final restoration made. This will be made by a highly skilled dental technician, they will customise the restoration exclusively for you ensuring that it fits with your face, skin complexion and surrounding teeth.
This is another area that costs can be cut. If your dentist uses a cheaper dental laboratory which works on a mass production basis then the cost of the final restoration can be lower. However, the more mass production the dental laboratory is the less the restoration will be customised for you. Your teeth have a great quantity of colours in them, all blended together to make them look natural and appealing. If the laboratory doesn’t use this range of colours then the final restoration can look bland and plain. Only a high-quality dental laboratory will be able to completely customise the final crown, bridge or denture to fit in with your face, skin complexion and surrounding teeth exactly.
Some patients prefer to have the implant placed under dental sedation, this helps relax and be at ease during the process.
Travelling abroad for dental implants.
Travelling overseas for dental implants.
Many patients consider the possibility of travelling abroad to have their implants.
Let’s look at this in more detail and ask some more questions about this rather intricate subject. Of course our dentists in Derby want you to stay in Derby to have your dental implants , but we also realise that patients wish to save as much money as possible and so could look to going overseas.
The NHS choices website has some good information on going abroad for dental implants and quote:
“You may not get all the information or reassurance you would normally get from your dentist at home” – Damien Walmsley, professor of restorative dentistry at the University of Birmingham
Here is a list of questions that the General Dental Council recommend you consider before going abroad.
1. Who will be carrying out my treatment and what qualifications do they have?
One of the most important aspects with any type of invasive dental treatment is the amount of trust you have in your surgeon. Not only must they be a nice person and you should like them but you need to be sure they have adequate qualifications.
Here in the UK the General Dental Council have a specialist register for dentists that have undergone a Masters level degree and joined the specialist register for periodontics which will qualify them to place dental implants. For this reason in our opinion the best person who should place your implant is a periodontist (gum specialist) with experience. Before having dental implants in the UK we recommend that you check the register to find a local dentist, preferably working with a periodontist… If you’re going abroad do they offer the same high level of trust and assurance? Periodontists do gum surgery and understand gums very well.
They will get the best gum contour around your implant and this will get you the best aesthetics result so that the gum around your implant looks good and as a result make your implant look very natural.
2. What references or reviews from patients do you have?
This is something we recommend you ask for no matter which treatment you are having, but because of the complex nature of dental implants this is even more important. A long list of patient testimonials shows that your dentist is trustworthy and has a happy list of people willing to recommend them..
3. Are you registered and regulated by a professional body and it is compulsory?
Here in the UK it is compulsory for every dentist to register with the GDC. We also have to register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), this ensures your standard of care meets defined standards, especially with cross infection control and your ability to feedback to the dentist any concerns. If you’re travelling overseas to have dental implants does your dentist have to register with a professional body? Who is going to hold them accountable for the treatment? And most importantly, if they are registered with a professional body is that registration compulsory?
4. What if the results aren’t as expected? Is their compensation for flights, hotels and extra expenses?
Unfortunately, whilst there is a very exacting science to dental implants, there is also a great deal of art. This is particularly applicable with the dental crown which will fit on top of the implant, this is the part of the procedure which you will see every single day, so you need to ensure that it totally matches your surrounding teeth and fulfils the cosmetic requirements exactly.
This is a very skilful and highly creative part of the process which, unfortunately, does not always go right first time. If this happens to you, how will you be able to travel back to the dental practice to have the Crown matched to your surrounding teeth?
Sometimes a few appointments are required in order to get an exact match, if your dentist is overseas or a long way away then this can become rather problematic. This is why Derby patients like to use us, we are based in Normanton Road, DE1 2GJ and have close transport links to the local area.
5. Do you have complaints system in place? And can I see a copy of it?
Part of compliance with the CQC, which is compulsory in the UK, is to have a robust complaints procedure. This ensures that you have the means to complain to your dentist if things don’t go right, they then have an obligation to follow-up this complaint.
The CQC audit these complaints in the UK and ensure that the procedures are strictly adhered to. If you travel abroad for your dental implants will you get the same level of compliance? Who is going to monitor any complaints? Who will ensure that any complaints are followed up? Here is our full audit with the CQC.
Why replace missing teeth in the first place?
This is indeed an exceptionally good question, many people might argue that simply leaving a gap where teeth are missing is the best thing to do. It certainly is an option however, there are some distinct disadvantages when leaving a gap and not replacing the missing teeth/tooth, As follows:
- The teeth either side of the gap can tip inwards.
- The teeth/tooth opposing the gap can drift up/down.
- The bone around where the tooth has been removed can continue to resorb affecting the look of this area and the ability to restore with an implant at a later date, should you so desire.
The teeth either side of the gap can tip inwards.
Did you know that your teeth are all in fine balance with one another? Your teeth support each other and prevent each other from moving, this is what is known as the neutral zone.
When this neutral zone is interrupted by the removal of the tooth forces become an equal and teeth have a tendency to drift. Over time they can drift into the gap so much that they sit at a very sharp angle inwards, this can mean restoration with crowns, bridges or dental implants can become very difficult at a later stage.
The teeth opposing the gap can drift up or down.
As you can see in the image above the opposing tooth has nothing supporting it at the bottom. This can also mean that these to drift. Over time the drifting can mean that the gum line becomes un-aesthetic Which can mean that gum surgery is required if this is to be restored.
This drifting into the space on the opposing arch can also affect the bite, if your teeth don’t bite together properly then your jaw will have a tendency to compensate for this. This overcompensation can put strain on the jaw joint muscles and cause tension and headaches.
The bone around the extraction site can continue to resorb.
When you lose a tooth the bone does not actually regenerate in the socket, what actually happens is that the bone around the socket collapses into space. This means that overall bone quantity in that area is reduced.
This reduction in bone quantity means that the gum line lowers, this can create an aesthetic problem and also can mean that if you choose to have a dental implant at a later date there may not be enough bone. This can result in either the implant not been placed or extra cost, discomfort and inconvenience if bone grafts are required.
So now we know how important it is that we replace missing teeth as soon as possible, let’s look at your options.
Your options to replace missing teeth
If you want to restore your smile and be able to chew again with confidence having lost teeth then you have three basic options.
- Permanent and fixed replacement with a dental implant.
- Permanent and fixed replacement with a dental bridge.
- Semi-permanent and removable replacement with a denture.
Let’s look at each of these in turn.
Replacing missing teeth with dental implants.
Dental implants are one of the best ways to replace missing teeth, they support the adjacent teeth and opposing teeth to prevent the tipping and drifting we have already mentioned but the key factor with dental implants is that they also support the surrounding bone and prevent that additional bone loss.
A dental implant is best described as a detainee replacement of your natural tooth root, the primary difference is that because there is no know you will have very little feedback from the tooth. This means you tend to have less sensation when biting and will need to be careful that you don’t bite too hard and fracture the crown on top.
As you can see from the image above the dental implant forms the basis of the root and stump, over the top of this we make a dental crown which then supports the teeth and bite.
Dental implants have a very high success rate and are typically the preferred option when it comes to replacing missing teeth.
What about the cost of dental implants?
You will always be provided with a full cost and treatment plan before going ahead with any dental implant, so don’t worry, there won’t be any surprises. Whilst dental implants may be the most expensive option at the beginning you need to look holistically over the lifetime of the implant.
A dental bridge can require three new teeth (one either side of the gap and the new one in the middle) this means you end up paying for three teeth rather than one and involving adjacent teeth in the restorative process. Wherever possible we like to keep any treatment to a minimum and avoid involving the teeth either side.
Many practices also offer interest-free credit on treatments such as dental implants, you can borrow anywhere between £350 and £50,000 with the interest-free options we offer at our practice.
Replacing missing teeth with dental bridges.
The next alternative to replace your missing teeth/tooth is with a dental bridge. Bridges are an excellent way to restore your smile, they support the surrounding teeth, opposing teeth and look good too.
One of the biggest disadvantages with a dental bridge is their necessity to involve the teeth either side of the gap. This is necessary in order to support the replacement tooth in the middle. If the teeth either side of the space require crowns then this is not so much of a problem, but if they are otherwise healthy then many dentists dislike the idea of reducing healthy tooth tissue in order to accept a bridge.
Dental bridges are often made with a high-strength metal dental alloy as the supporting substructure, this will often include Gold but may also be a non-precious hypoallergenic alloy. Modern techniques also involve the use of dental ceramics such as zirconia, this is a naturally occurring oxide of zirconium and is often used in hip replacements.
Replacing missing teeth with dentures.
Whilst many people may not like dentures because they are removable, modern denture techniques have improved enormously in recent years and they can now be made to look amazing and feel extremely comfortable.
Partial dentures which would be used for replacing a few missing teeth are secured in place with a class or clip. These attach around the adjacent teeth to hold the denture firmly in place.
A good technique for making dentures more comfortable is to request a soft lining from your dentist. A soft lining is simply a soft insert which is bonded to the fitting surface of your denture. This makes the denture far more comfortable and acceptable.
Another option to make dentures more comfortable is to ask for a flexible denture. Flexible dentures are far less likely to break if dropped (the classic way to break denture is dropping it into the sink whilst cleaning), rather than break they simply flex. If you’d like to discuss flexible dentures please ask your dentist when coming in for your initial assessment.
There isn’t a way to say this is the best option to replace missing teeth, it really depends on your own individual circumstance and clinical situation. What works extremely well for one person may not work at all for the next, The only way to find out exactly which option works best for you is to research all of the options online, read blogs such as this one and then go to visit a local dentist to book an appointment for an initial assessment.
Dove Dental Care are a local dentist operating in the Derbyshire area, they are happy to welcome patients from around Derby, Long Eaton, Castle Donington and Allestree.
To help find out if they are the dentist view they offer a free meet us visit, please click here to book.