Dental implants are a truly amazing addition to the world of dentistry and have enriched the lives of millions of people. As a practicing dentist, I have witness first-hand the sadness and embarrassment that the loss of teeth can bring. So the big question today is whether or not dental implants are worth the high cost. The answer is without hesitation-yes. However, there are times when an implant may not be the best choice to replace missing teeth. A thorough exam and health history should always be taken prior to placement of any implant.
How do you know if you are a candidate? First, seek the advice of a trusted professional. The dentist should appear confident (but not overconfident) and you should walk away from the evaluation feeling like your expectations can be met by the proposed treatment. Many things have to be taken into account to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for dental implants.
There are health and lifestyle factors which may play a role in success and satisfaction of implants. Some of the medical considerations are: people with poorly controlled diabetes, history of radiation to the jaws / head or neck, immune deficiencies and a few others. Some lifestyle choices which may affect the success of an implant are smoking, alcohol or drug abuse and severe tooth grinding. The other factors still are the quality and quantity of bone where the implant is to be placed.
If time is taken to evaluate and modify these risk factors, then implants can be extremely successful and life changing for many individuals. So is it worth the price? It absolutely can be if evaluated and planned for correctly.
What about dental implants in children? Children are not like treating "little adults." This is true not just in dental implants but in every phase of dentistry.
In general, dental implants should not be placed in children to replace missing teeth until they have stopped growing completely. If placed before this time, results can be cosmatically devastating and very time consuming and expensive to fix. Occidentally, dental implants will be placed in children to aid as anchor points during orthodontic treatment, but this is typically the only reason a dental implant should be placed in a child that is still growing. Special x-rays are usually needed to determine whether or growth of the child has actually stopped.