Montrose Star interviews trusted dental authority, Dr Randy Mitchmore from his practice called LifeSmiles in Montrose. He is a respected author, lecturer on dental topics. He loves making a difference in the lives of the patients he sees and the community that he lives and works in.
MS I have seen a lot of ads on TV and in print that sounds like a dream come true. I have a “friend” with a lot of dental problems. She wants to put an end to it. The ads claim that in just one day she can go from ugly miserable teeth to a big beautiful smile by simply having for dental implants done.
Dr M Remember that saying, “if it sounds too good to be true…” Watch Out!
MS Oh No! Not again. Can you break it down for me?
DrM Let’s put it in plain English. These high advertising Centers typically have one product/service that fits all. That is, no matter how many teeth you have or even if many are in good condition, they take all of the teeth out to create a blank canvass. Then four implants are placed at whatever cock-eyed angle to reach into some jaw bone. Then a denture is attached to those four implants. The surgery may be done in one day, but the process involves a number of appointments leading up to that. The cost is typically $25,000. to $35,000. per arch.
MS Are you saying everyone is getting a denture and four implants? What is so bad about that?
Dr M Let’s apply a little common sense to the math. Your creator started you out with fourteen teeth per arch that can last a pretty long time. Now you are going to have four titanium implant screws do the work of fourteen. If you lose one natural tooth it is not a disaster. If you lose one of these implants it is beyond a disaster, it is a catastrophe!
Most people hate dentures as they get older. That is because when teeth are lost the bone that used to be around the roots of the natural teeth shrinks away. It is usually not a good thing when body parts shrink! So the area between those four implants is going to shrink through the years. This will leave a gap between the denture and gums that will catch food and not look good. It also means that if you realize later that more than four implants would be a good idea, you are toast! The gum and bone will have shrunk away.
MS Is there a better way?
Dr M Of course! It starts with an accurate diagnosis and assessment of what you current conditions are, what your short and long term goals for your teeth and smiles are, and what fits your budget. There are many options that I give for this situation. Many times all of the teeth do not have to be taken out – that saves money and future problems.
In those cases where it really is best to remove all of the teeth, I typically place two to four times as many implants. Here is the real kicker – typically at the same or lower cost.
MS Whoa! How can you do that?
Dr M I have developed a special technique of computer guided implant surgery – much like arthroscopic surgery. I also do not have the high overhead costs of expensive TV ads and the corporate structure to pay for. So I can pass those savings along to my patients.
MS Why place so many more implants than the “all of four”? The number one reason is to preserve the jaw bone. Where ever implants are placed the bone and gums around them do not shrink way. Secondly, you have built in redundancy or a back up if one or more of the implants have a problem.
Thirdly, instead of a one piece denture, you can have a modular approach of individual teeth or bridges supported by implants. As repairs or replacements are needed in the future, you have lots of options left open.
MS I get it! So instead of all on four, you offer all on 6, 8, 10 or 12. I always did like the power of a V-8 over a four banger!