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It may be said that visiting the dentist is becoming more and more like taking a car in for a service. They take a look. Give a shake of the head. Give you a list of jobs that need doing (full of technical jargon, obviously). They present you with a bill (if you are lucky) – a few hundred rand.
And what can you do? Grin and bear it — or maybe grimace and bear it, depending on how your teeth look. The fact is that dental work is becoming more confusing for patients. With the more and more treatment options available, we are able to offer more solutions, at different price ranges, to suit different people.
So let’s picture the scenario: You are in the dentist’s chair faced with a problem and decisions to make. The traditional method of replacing loose or missing teeth has been either with a fixed bridge or with a removable denture.
Alternatively dental implants could be recommended. Dental implants are rapidly becoming the preferred treatment of replacing loose and missing teeth. They have been available for over 30 years, but in recent years procedures have become faster, easier and more cost-effective.
– Can a tooth be saved by root canal treatment?
– If root treatment is an option would it be expensive and cost-effective?
– How long is the tooth likely to last if it is kept?
– Could a missing tooth be replaced with a bridge or denture instead?
Answers to these questions should make it clear right from the start why dental implants are being recommended.
If an implant is recommended, the first stage in the procedure should be full consultation. This gives you the chance to ask any questions you have – the more, the better. Don’t be afraid of asking is obvious questions either. The more comfortable you feel about the procedure, the more relaxed you will be when the appointments for treatment finally arrive.
Of course, the consultation works both ways. We will more likely have a few questions for you to. In particular, we will ask about your general health etc and get to know you better.
The reason that some patients need a bone graft is therefore fairly obvious- and any good joiner could probably tell you the answer! If the implants screws directly into the jawbone, then you need enough jawbone there to make sure it screws in properly.
You will know whether you need a bone graft or not after the initial x-rays and CT scans. Armed with these, we will be able to assess whether your jaw already has enough bone to support implants. In many cases a bone graft is not needed and we can continue with the standard procedures.
The main part of the procedure is normally carried out under local anaesthetic, which numbs your mouth and jaw. Conscious sedation may also be recommended and indicated. If you have any concerns regarding the anaesthetising process, you know what to do. Ask!
Usually, however it takes 3 to 6 months for the patient’s mouth to heal before the teeth can be fitted. Having said that, if you are changing from dentures to implants, imagine how much you will enjoy being able to eat a crisp apple again! A few extra days of healing time will probably worth the wait.
The metal of the implant is hidden by the tooth, gums and jaw. Similarly, some of the most important benefits of dental implants are invisible too. Dental implants can help maintain bone tissue in the jaw, keeping it healthy.
Don’t worry if these are the kind of questions you asked yourself – most other patients are in the same boat!
– Technical expertise
– Consultations and advice
In a procedure such as dental implants, these factors often vary from practice to practice and from patient to patient. As mentioned above, not every procedure will require a bone graft so that affect the final costs. In this practice we work with other specialists that include periodontists and oral surgeons. Their fees need to be included in the total costing.
Ultimately the advice to patients at the end of this article is exactly the same as the advice of the beginning. Ask! In the same way you’ve made the most of your consultation to find out what exactly your procedures involve, you should also find out exactly what you are paying for. What type or brand of implant is being used? What level of after-care is included? Are there any aspects of the procedure that are non-standard?
Don’t forget, getting answers your questions isn’t just about finding a cheaper option or checking on our expertise. As much as anything else, it’s about putting you at ease throughout the procedure. At the end of the day, that knowledge and reassurance can be more valuable than anything else.
Remember that the planning of dental implant treatment begins with the prosthodontist. It is like building a house. The design comes first and not the surgery! The success of treatment depends greatly on the planning.
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