Dental implants are considered the standard of care for tooth replacement, improving the dental health of millions of people with missing teeth. The number of practices that offer implants have grown as well, and implant ads are everywhere offering incentives to attract potential patients to their offices.
Common advertisements will claim
“Implant for $1,095; Abutment & Crown for $950; We Guarantee Successful Placement!”
“Implants Starting at $995”
“Free implant with purchase of crown”
“Dental Implants Complete $1699.00”
MINI IMPLANTS STARTING AT JUST $399*
Sound too good to be true?
Here is what you need to know before getting burned by misleading advertising.
Placing “no-frill” implants:
Implants are titanium posts that are placed into the bone and act as root support for the abutment and crown. There are some generic implants in the market that may cost $95 to $150. The catch: Important characteristics such as titanium composition, machinery, surface type, design, and sterility of these “copy” implants are not well documented. They also have not undergone evidence-based testing or trials. There is little or no literature on their success and healing. Complications such as infections, fractures, non-bony healing, and bone loss may be at increased risk.
Use of stock (generic) abutments:
The abutment is the extension that is attached to the implant and supports the crown. Stock abutments are manufactured by the implant companies and are available in several standard sizes. These are cheaper than the recommended custom abutments.
The catch: Stock abutments do not provide proper form and contour of a natural tooth. The cosmetic results are unpredictable and hygiene may be difficult. Custom abutments have clear advantages and are recommended by every experienced prosthodontist, dentist, surgeon, and laboratory technician.
Use of inexpensive lower quality labs:
It is commonly accepted that work performed by the lab is just as crucial as the work by the surgeon and the restorative dentist for long term success. Laboratory cost can be significant for quality prosthetic work, whether it’s a crown, bridge, veneer, or denture.
The catch: Quality laboratory work requires careful attention to details, communication with dentist, precision fit, accurate margins, custom angulation and form of the abutment, and artistic porcelain work for a crown that looks good and functions well. All of this takes time and expertise, the longevity and success of implant supported crowns depends on accurate and high quality work. Non-fitting components and poor quality materials will cause crowns or implants to fail.
The “a-la-cart” approach. Sounds cheap, but here is the catch: Frequently, every aspect of the treatment, component, materials, and services are itemized. This means, you’ll probably pay for the consultation, every X-ray, every screw, every part, and material used. And this does not include the crown or abutment. In addition, if something happens and an implant has to be replaced, you’ll end up paying for it again.
“One-Hour Dental Implants”
This is a frequent advertisement and it means absolutely nothing. Every patient is different with varying needs, different complexities, and treatment approach. Even in the most ideal conditions, the procedure can take several hours based on the treatment which can and should vary from patient to patient.
“Free implant (with purchase of crown)”
This offer suggests that patients get a free dental implant when they pay for their crown. The ‘”free” offer is a common marketing tactic designed to hook a consumer into trying a product. This may be all right for marketing a new facial moisturizer, but not for dental implants.
The catch: First it implies that implant placement and the crown are being done by a single ‘super-dentist,’ it is practically impossible for one person to have mastered both disciplines. Also, it suggests possible use of no-frills implants and itemizing all other aspects of treatment to make up for the ‘free’ implant cost. This means you’ll pay for every X-Ray, part, piece, visit, replacements, etc. In most instances, you will end up paying more for the ‘free’ implant.
The reality is that implants work. While it’s a highly successful and predictable procedure, it’s not simple, requiring the skills of a trained specialist and restorative dentist working as a team. Implants have a more than 98 percent success rate when performed by the right team of dentists that use quality implants, customized components, and reputable labs.
When looking for tooth replacement options, do not fall victim to misleading marketing tactics. Do your research, ask the right questions, and know what you are getting. It’s a lifetime investment and shouldn’t be taken lightly.