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Ask Dr. Canzoneri: Dental Purgatory

X-ray of a molar implant. – Courtesy photo / jbessade (CC BY-SA 3.0)

By Kenneth Canzoneri DDS

Dear Dr. Canzoneri: I am 50 years old and am in dental purgatory. First I have to admit that I have not taken great care of my teeth. I did not go for regular cleanings or x-rays. I have gum disease and a lot of cavities. I have had two consultations with dentists and after talking with them I feel sick to my stomach. I am going to have to have a few teeth extracted and then I need to decide on bridges or implants. I am so upset. I know nothing about implants! I heard on the radio a dentist advertising implants for $349.99. Any advice would be helpful.

–  Dental Purgatory

Dear Dental Purgatory:  

First I am proud of you for taking the big step and going to a dentist. The fact is that one in four adults lose their permanent teeth by age 74, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Dental implants are a good solution, in many instances, to replace lost or broken teeth. A dental implant is a screw or framework of titanium and other materials that is placed in the jawbone. Then three to six months later, after the screw has fully fused with the bone, a reconstructive dentist attaches a replacement tooth to the implant.

The advantage of dental implants is that they are always in place and don’t interfere with your ability to eat, speak or even to smile big. The replaced teeth function just like other natural teeth and even chew like real teeth. Implants have a 98% success which can last 10 plus years.

The disadvantages of implants are that they are expensive, require multiple appointments and in many cases dental insurance does not pay for them. It is important to remember that this is a surgical procedure and in some cases nerve damage, infection, sinus problem and bone loss around an implant may occur.

Please remember that a high quality implant placed by a dental surgeon restored by a qualified dentist can cost thousands of dollars.  $349.99 you may be getting what you pay for.

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