Thanks to modern cosmetic dental procedures, you don’t have to be embarrassed by missing teeth anymore. Whether you’ve lost a tooth to disease or an accident, dental implants are an effective and reliable replacement method for most people. In fact, the American Dental Association claims that they are one of the biggest advances in dentistry over the past four decades. But what if you’re suffering from gum or periodontal disease and a tooth appears to be the latest victim, destined to be replaced? Is it better to proactively replace the tooth, or attempt to save it with treatment? One study suggests that implants aren’t always the best option.
Dr. Liran Levin, assistant professor of periodontology at the Israel Institute of Technology and visiting assistant professor at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, recently reviewed 19 published studies examining implant success rates vs. tooth survival over the span of 15+ years. His findings were published in the Journal of the American Dental Association and reported on in a US News article. According to Levin, this is one of the first longitudinal studies comparing the survival rates of dental implants versus properly treated teeth. The research found that while 4-13% of treated teeth were lost, up to 33% of implants failed. And when you consider the cost of the cosmetic dental procedure, saving the existing tooth seems even more attractive. The price tag on an implant varies widely across the United States, with some reaching about $3,500. But don’t assume that saving your tooth is the best option just yet. There are still many factors that need to be considered.
Based on his study, Levin suggests that whenever you are advised to replace an existing, albeit damaged, tooth with an implant, be sure to seek a second opinion before jumping in head first. The author suggests that some dentists are over-recommending implants, believing that they are always the better alternative; a theory debunked by his research. Of course there are some situations where an implant is always necessary. For example, if a vertical root fracture or other structural problem is present, even treatment from the most experienced dentist can’t save the tooth. But if a patient is suffering from gum disease and has a loose tooth, periodontal treatment, often in the form of gum surgery, and time may be the recipe for tooth survival. If and when this important decision is placed on your shoulders, talking to your trusted dentist about your options is crucial. And if you’re not comfortable with the recommendation given to you, seek a second, or even third, opinion until you’re at ease with your choice. Check out what Dr. Sanchez of Miami Dental Sedation Spa has to say about making such an important decision.