by Emma Mooney
Losing a tooth is no laughing matter. Except maybe if you’re watching Ed Helms’s character wake up that fateful morning in The Hangover. That was pretty funny.
In fact, actor Ed Helms lost a tooth when he was a teen, and had a dental implant for 20 years before he took it out (temporarily) for his role in The Hangover.
So if you find yourself with a damaged or missing tooth, and you’re considering dental implants, then you’ll be in good company. Implants can be a permanent solution to missing teeth.
Here’s what you need to consider with implants.
Implant consultation stage
During a consultation you will undergo x-rays and various tests to determine if your jawbone is strong enough to hold the implant in place. If not, you may need bone augmentation to build up the bone. The dentist will explain that an implant can take months, or even a year to complete the whole process.
At this stage, confirm that the dentist or oral surgeon placing the dental implant is accredited through a specialty program or has completed an extensive surgical course with proper training. Also ask the type of dental implant he or she uses, and why.
After the initial consultation, a date for the first surgery will be made to place the implant in your jawbone. Here, the oral surgeon will drill a hole into your jaw bone in the gap left by the missing tooth and place the implant in this hole. These implants will act as the root for your new tooth.
The surgeon will then sew you back up and you are done for the next 4 to 7 months.
Once the implant has fused to the jaw bone forming a sturdy base for the replacement tooth, it’s time for the second surgery. Here the surgeon will attach a healing abutment or collar to the implant. This collar separates the gums and the head of the implant, allowing the gums to heal correctly.
The dentist will make impressions of your teeth so that your crowns match the rest of your teeth. The dentist will then place a temporary crown on to the implant. This temporary crown is made of a softer material than the permanent crowns, to ease the pressure placed on the implant when you are chewing, and to allow the jawbone a bit more time to become stronger. The temporary crown also allows your gums to heal around your new tooth in the same way as your natural teeth.
After around 4 to 6 weeks, you’re ready for your permanent crown. The permanent crown is attached to the abutment either by screwing or using cement. It’s a long process but at the end of it you’ll have an implant that looks and works as though you’d never lost a tooth at all.
Dental implants: the cost
The part that hurts the most about dental implants is the price. As CNN Money put it “they’re not cheap”. So how much can the average American expect to pay?
Exact costs are hard to come by as dentists are not forthcoming with pricing.
CNN reported the average cost of a dental implant in the US as between $3,000 and $4,500, while CostHelper readers reported paying $1,000 – $5,000 for just an implant at an average cost of $2,488 per tooth. Using data from 2007 claims, Delta Dental had an average of $3,442. The rough average from these sources comes to $3352.
Using our own data from prices listed by Mexican clients on WhatClinic.com (around 50 prices), we found costs for an implant ranged from $450 to $1,800.
The average cost for an implant in Mexico came out at $1,000; which is 70% less than the average cost in the US.
Replacing a tooth with a dental implant is no easy thing, but it is a permanent solution. And if you can save 70% on your dentist bill along the way, it might just ease the pain that little bit.