When I go for a new pair of shoes, it makes perfect sense to me that the length and width of my foot requires a size that is appropriate for me as an individual. While there are other women in the shoe department who may be of similar age, height, and shape as me, I realize our shoe sizes may vary greatly from one to another.
This is a good way to look at the uniqueness of dental implants, too. Because every person is different, there are also differences in jaw bone mass and shape, number of teeth missing, and the positions of remaining teeth. This is why different types of dental implants exist – to fit the unique needs of the patient.
In early 1980, a Swedish doctor presented a new approach in implant dentistry to a meeting of dentists in Toronto. In this, he discussed how he had successfully used a new metal developed by NASA, known as titanium, for the implanted portion.
What was unique about his use of this metal was how it ‘bonded’ with living bone. Unlike other materials used for dental implants, the bone that titanium was placed in actually grew around it. This is what secured it in place so firmly, restoring a natural biting and chewing strength and dependability.
His implants took off like wildfire, not only in implant dentistry but titanium became the material-of-choice in other medical implantation (such as hip and knee joints). Once titanium became the base of implant success, other types of dental implants began being developed.
For some individuals, there are dental implant systems that can be placed in ‘shallow’ bone. This describes how bone loss can leave minimal bone mass to support the implanted portion. Bone loss occurs when tooth roots no longer exist in the jaw bone. Without their stimulation, the bone begins to shrink over time.
Not only can dental implants restore stimulation to the jaw bones, halting the process of bone loss, certain types can support replacement teeth without requiring significant bone depth or the need for bone rebuilding processes prior to placement. The All On 4 implant system is a good example of accommodating this type of need through its unique implant design and strategic placement techniques.
Other implant types are designed to support non-removable teeth or an arch of teeth that can be removed. Some implants are ideal for supporting one or two teeth while some systems use 4 – 6 implants to support a full upper or lower arch.
Our front office team understands how specific needs and ‘unknowns’ must be factored in before an estimate on implant-related costs can be given. For example, when someone calls to inquire, “How much are dental implants?” they know that there is no one answer.
There are so many variations that must be considered in choosing the proper number and type of implant for each need. To give an estimate, it can be unfair to the caller to get a figure that may be too low or so high it may be both inaccurate and discouraging. This is why they urge callers to arrange a consultation since the actual figure can be more-realistically calculated after an exam and review of imaging (x-rays).
During a no-charge consultation, people who are considering dental implants can understand which type may be best suited to their needs and learn what costs are typical for the type they need. During these, we frequently have our Financial Coordinator (Deb) and/or Insurance Coordinator (Michelle) become involved in discussions. This helps the patient to be fully prepared in the decisions involved for achieving their smile goals.
Today’s implant dentistry is miraculous. It has come so far over the years and can restore the joys of smiling, eating, laughing, and speaking for a lifetime. If you’ve considered dental implants to replace missing teeth, we will be happy to meet personally with you. Call 586-739-2155 to arrange your free, private consultation appointment.
And, during this time, if you have dental fear or anxiety, I encourage you to share those concerns. We are especially sensitive to those who have avoided dentistry due to these issues and can explain comfort options (including oral and I.V. sedation) as well as special features in our office to address these.