Conservative Single Tooth Replacement
From the Newsletter “Your Valley Smile” Fall 2004
Bridges & Implants
Historically, bridges have been the treatment of choice, for both patients and dentists, when replacement of a single tooth was called for.
Today, though, dentists are looking to be more and more conservative in their treatment of patients, and have identified implants as a predictable and economically sound option for those in need of replacement of just one tooth.
Obviously, several factors come into play here, like the health of the surrounding bone and the overall health of the neighboring teeth, but for those in need, the end result can be just as esthetic and functional as the original tooth.
When she was 18 years old, my wife tried to break a fall at a Pocatello swimming pool with her mouth. As a result, she fractured one of her central incisors, necessitating the need for a root canal and crown. Twelve years later, the tooth finally gave up, and had to be removed.
Due to the location of the fracture, our local periodontist, Dr. Brad Morlock, removed the tooth and root tip. He also successfully placed a bone graft in the extraction site to buttress and preserve the bone.
A few months later, Dr. John Morrison, one of our two area oral surgeons, placed her implant. After a few months of healing, I was able to complete her case, and she now has a porcelain tooth which looks and functions like the real thing.
My wife’s situation was unique in that neither adjacent tooth had anything wrong with them. A traditional bridge would have required preparing (drilling) these teeth for crowns, punishing them unfairly for the loss of their clumsy neighbor.
To be perfectly honest, since we were able to do most of the work “in house,” a significant savings was realized on her tooth replacement. Regardless, a traditional fee-for-service patient could expect to pay approximately the same fee as a three unit bridge. All things being equal, though, I would personally spend my money on a single tooth implant and porcelain crown.
I never make as much on such cases, but the end result, for many patients, far surpasses an oftentimes less favorable bridge. My professional satisfaction, comes from meeting the needs of my patients in as conservative a manner as possible, all the while staying mindful of the economic factors that each individual come in with.
I would love to say that the cost of such services will eventually come down. Regretfully, this seems to be just wishful thinking on my part, though I am hopeful that as more and more specialists and general practitioners become trained in the art of implant placement, costs will come down. Until that happens, at least for me, I will continue to refer my patients to our talented specialists for placement, and make every effort to pass along any potential savings I can so that this “state of the art” service can be enjoyed by many to come.
Where Do I Start?
Depending upon the patient and the situation, I refer my implant placements to one of our specialist in town. We are happy to provide you referrals if you are interested. Moreover, if you feel you are a candidate for such a procedure, we will happily provide you a FREE consultation, here.