How much does it cost to have an implant done? That is a frequently asked question so let’s answer it fully and honestly.
There are many clinical situations where implants are indicated and they offer a wonderful long-term restorative solution. The procedure is not just like placing a screw in a piece of wood ! It requires great planning and skill.
Let’s do an exercise together.
Draw a large circle and divide up into six segments like an orange cut in half. Make the circle big enough so that there is adequate room to write in each segment. Number the segments from 1 to 6 and label them as we go through the following details.
It is fundamental to visualise the final restorative outcome right from the start. It is all in the planning which is based on the patient’s request to satisfy his or hers desires and expectations.
The success of implants is dependent on the amount and quality of bone available. Standard X-rays and study models show a great deal to answer this question but nowadays there is an additional diagnostic tool available called a CBCT scan. This tool is a remarkable adjunct in assisting to plan properly.
Many times an implant needs to be placed in an area in which a tooth has been missing for a long time and therefore the bone has shrunk. It is possible to do sophisticated bone engineering to create an adequate implant site and that is where the information gathered by the CBCT scan is invaluable.
The science of bone engineering has advanced exponentially in recent times and there are skilled clinicians who are able to provide an adequate bony foundation by correcting the bony architecture.
Another factor to bear in mind is the arrangement and distribution of the remaining teeth both in terms of the space available for implants and their angulation. Diagnostic study casts are essential. There are many solutions to these problems which all need to be taken into account in the planning stage before any treatment begins.
The surgical skill of placing implants requires advanced training through a well accredited institution over a period of at least two years. There are many implant companies that offer weekend courses. Is that the level of skill that you would be happy with?
There is a choice to make regarding which implant system to use. There are many systems available in South Africa. The choice affects the cost and componentry available to handle clinical problems that may arise.
The shape, size and diameter of the chosen implant system is decided on once the surgical site has been exposed. This is a clinical decision which oftentimes can only be made at the time of surgery.
There are various treatment options in shaping the bone to create the appropriate site for the implant placement. This decision is also made at the time of surgery.
It is essential for the periodontist/ oral surgeon to be well prepared for any clinically eventuality by having the appropriate armamentarium of instruments as well as a selection of implants themselves so as not to be caught off-guard.
3. Conscious Sedation
Nobody wants to endure unnecessary discomfort of the surgical phase of treatment. There are several options available to make the procedure more comfortable. This includes the administration of Dormicum about an hour before the procedure or of having an anaesthetist present to administer the appropriate medication for conscious sedation.
In both cases the patient will not be able to drive afterwards and therefore arrangements need to be made for transportation back home.
The option of having an anaesthetist during the procedure adds to the overall cost.
4. Restorative Phase
Before commencing with the restorative phase, the implants should be checked by the peiodontist/oral surgeon to validate complete integration of the implant body to the supporting bone.
Once the go-ahead has been given, the restorative phase can begin. This follows the plan that was established at the diagnostic phase. However it sometimes happens that the design of the final restorative construction may need to be altered because of the unavoidable positioning of the implants during surgery. Fortunately there are a host of implant components available to deal with this eventuality.
5. Dental Implants
There are thousands of implant systems available on the world market each claiming to be better than the next. In South Africa we also have a large choice of implant systems. Some are imported and some are manufactured locally. The choice of implant system affects the overall cost of the componentry but it is important not to compromise the quality of the implant system. Cheap is usually expensive. Each dentist may have a preference for a particular system based on the ease of placement, excellent long-term results and flexibility in altering the restorative design if necessary.
Laboratory costs are part of the overall costing. There are very many variables that affect the final cost which are very difficult to anticipate at the diagnostic stage of treatment. The costs may vary because of additional work to accommodate an altered design; the choice of final restorative material; and the nature of the material to be used for the metal substructure.
I hope that you now have a clearer perspective of the complexity of implant dentistry and the importance of choosing a team that has a well proven track record.
DR GERALD KAPLAN