In recent years, to meet market demands and reduce fees, many dentists have turned to lower quality, often overseas made implants. As a result, we are seeing higher failure rates, poorly fitting crowns and less aesthetically pleasing results.
When you shop around for best prices, you will find a dramatic variation in fees between dentists. Most people aren’t aware of how low prices are achieved. Several factors need to be considered in making your choice.
What is an implant?
A dental implant is a titanium “root” used to support a porcelain tooth replica or a group of teeth. A typical implant consists of a fixture made of commercially pure titanium, which after three months fuses to your jaw bone, much like a replacement hip or knee would. A porcelain tooth or teeth is then attached to the implant or denture, locking it into place.
Implant success and technical considerations
Generally a well-planned and expertly executed implant procedure has success rates in the order of 98% and most people could expect a dental implant to last for life. Implants rely on their support from adequate bone thickness and quality. However, a poorly placed or angulated implant or an implant squeezed into an area of insufficient bone, to save you money, has high risk of failure. Implants don’t fail quickly. They can take 10 years to deteriorate. Unfortunately as they fail slowly and painlessly they can cause bone dissolution at the same time. At the time of failure, there is usually insufficient bone to replace it and reparative procedures will cost you thousands, negating any savings you would’ve made in the first place. When people need a hip replacement or a kidney operation, they usually look for a good surgeon. It is important to understand that implants are not a commodity, but a delicate surgical procedure that needs to be performed by a highly qualified surgeon for long term success.
Despite popular belief, implant brand rarely determines the success of the procedure. Most modern, well respected brands manufacture high quality implants. Success is in the hands of the operator.
Implant supported crown
The tooth replica or the crown also needs to satisfy a number of requirements. It needs to be proportionate to the length and size of your implant as to not overload it and be made of high quality pure materials to prevent fractures and corrosion. It also must look like a natural tooth and fit snugly between adjacent teeth so there are no hard-to-reach areas where food can become trapped and cause infection. It must also satisfy comfort and functionality requirements.
All of this might sound quite straightforward, but in fact a crown is a well-crafted piece of dental engineering requiring great technical skill and talent on the part of both dentist and the dental technician. Great care, skill, time and honesty will determine whether you end up with a superior long-term result or a mediocre crown. The laboratory technician needs to be up-to-date with modern methods of manufacture, and comfortable working with the latest materials. These technicians are hard to come by even in Australia and their work is not cheap.
When considering implant treatment, most patients are unaware that they will most likely be referred by their dentist to one or more specialists at different stages of their treatment. This can be time consuming, expensive and stressful. For long-term success, it’s important that the dentist you select to do your implants understands, and is qualified to handle all aspects of implant treatment.
Even more alarming is the trend of going overseas to have dental treatment done. We receive several phone calls a week from people with overseas-made disasters. Once again you will reap immediate savings but after numerous trips, airfares, the cost will often come close to what you’d expect to pay in Australia. There are many skilled surgeons around the world. However, if you have any complications such as infection, crown loosening or failure, there is often no one equipped to deal with these conditions in Australia as systems used overseas are often different. Also, financially it is entirely your responsibility.
Most people are unaware that some dentist send their work directly to China; cutting out the middle man. Others use local Australian laboratories that outsource work to China. This creates the impression that the work is Australian made when it’s not.
Metals and porcelain used for veneers and crowns vary greatly in quality. This information is not freely available to the public, but to somebody who is having the procedure done, this can mean the difference is between success and failure. In addition, lead contamination has been implicated in overseas made crowns. As with most things, quality will be reflected in price.
I always encourage people to do their own research. However, no matter how thorough your research is, results are entirely in the hands of the professionals you choose.
When selecting a dentist to do your implants, be cautious and don’t let the lowest price influence you. Please consider all variables when evaluating value for money, such as the integrity and skill of the practitioner and technician, in addition to the quality of materials. Long term success should always drive your decision.
For stringent quality control, our work is crafted by a leading Australian laboratory from superior materials to ensure that what goes into your mouth is of the highest standard.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please call our office on 9510 5597. With extensive training and experience in implant procedures, we will assist you in making your decision.