As sad as it is, life can be hard on the human body, and teeth are no exception. While it would be nice if they always lasted forever, sometimes they need replacing. When that time comes, modern dentistry has many options. Among those, dental implants stand out as one of the most convenient and impressive solutions.
Far and away, the most compelling reason to consider dental implants is health. Having healthy and effective teeth is obviously good for you, especially in helping you to maintain a good diet, but the health benefits of implants extend much further. You may not realize this, but your teeth contribute to the bone structure of your mouth and face. When teeth are missing, the resultant weakness in bone structure can lead to a number of problems. In the worst cases, gap-adjacent teeth can weaken and decay, and the jawbone itself can lose integrity, also putting it at risk for decay. Even the less sinister risks are still frightening. The reduced bone pressure can lead to softening and sagging of other tissues, often causing minor deformations in the mouth and face.
Now, dental bridges and other alternative solutions can help with these issues, but implants are the most effective means. Since they use real bone, they stand up to the pressures and stresses of the mouth, and if they successfully maintain good health because of their natural design. Speaking of other solutions, how do they stack up for longevity?
Maintenance and Lifespan
Worrying about health is all well and good, but there are some major convenience points that also favor implants. First, they last longer than any other tooth replacement option. Dentures, bridges and other options usually have a lifespan around five to seven years. Dental implants are intended to be lifetime replacements. To be fair, implants can occasionally require upkeep visits to the dentist, but there are plenty of examples of implants remaining healthy and effective for decades.
In that same vein, implants are also the superior choice for easy maintenance. Removable tooth options all require pretty involved care. Semi-permanent options still have vulnerabilities that make it more difficult to maintain standard dental hygiene. Implants may require special care in the beginning, but for the most part you can keep them strong and healthy with the same routine that cares for the rest of your mouth. Traditional brushing, flossing and regular dental visits are usually enough.
The cost feels like a reason not to get implants, but like with most financial considerations, the long term and short term assessments are very different. The startup cost for dental implants varies considerably, as each treatment must be tailored to the individual. That means the difference from one person to the next can measure in thousands of dollars, but the average price in the U.S. is around $5,000. When you consider that dentures usually run around $1000, this seems like an easy choice. Then again, the average denture user will go through more than five sets in their lifetime. At this point the two options break even, but premium dentures can easily cost more than $1000 per set, and the price will likely be higher in five year, when you need your next set. With implants, you can often get insurance to pay a percentage, and the one-time investment can ultimately save money.
Ultimately, there is never a single solution that works for everyone. If you need dental replacement, you should have a good discussion with your dentist. If the conditions are right, though, dental implants very well could be your best option, so make sure you at least cover the pros and cons before you commit.