Choices in dental care, Why implants should be a last resort

Why implants should be a last resort

Implants to replace decayed or broken teeth have boomed in popularity in the past decade. However, experts warn that a hasty decision to extract a tooth and replace it with an implant may cost a lot more than you think.


Dr Valence Roberts, principal dentist at bc dental in Melbourne’s bayside Beaumaris, says implants are being used in situations where natural teeth could have been saved. Although Roberts places implants for his own patients, it’s undertaken as a last resort.


‘‘Don’t get me wrong – they are an essential part of modern dentistry and are
fantastic for replacing missing teeth, but they should only be used when you don’t have other good options,’’ he says. 


Roberts has practised dentistry for 13 years and says the industry has recently
started to struggle with maintaining implants and replacing them when they fail.
‘‘If you fix a natural tooth and it needs to be extracted 10 years later, you can still place an implant,’’ he says.


‘‘If you place an implant straightaway and it fails in 10 years, it can be extremely difficult or even impossible to place another implant.


‘‘When an implant is lost, a bone augmentation is often required. The implantation replacement usually takes three to nine months, with multiple surgical procedures.’’ Roberts says that over the long term, implants can be more expensive than salvaging natural teeth and need more care than most people realise.

‘‘Keeping your own teeth for as long as you can is definitely better for your health, often works out to be less expensive and leaves you with more options in the future,’’ he says.

In some cases, root canal therapy and a crown can be used to save a tooth. At the same time, he says: ‘‘Dental implants are an essential part of modern dentistry and are the best solution we currently have for replacing missing teeth or teeth with a hopeless prognosis.’’ 

Before implants, if a patient had a missing tooth, the best option was a bridge.
This process can damage the teeth adjacent to the gap and makes two teeth do the work of three or four, says Roberts.

In these cases, dental implants are far superior as they are free standing and ‘‘share the load’’, extending the life of adjacent teeth. Roberts says that if you are considering implants, you should ask yourself what exactly got you to this point. There’s a lot to consider, he says.

‘‘Whether it’s a complex case that requires bone augmentation and gum
surgery or a relatively straightforward case, my philosophy is to consider the whole person. ‘‘That means looking at the full aesthetic and functional benefits as well how to avoid needing more implants in the future.

‘‘We want patients to look at the root cause of why their teeth have become the way they are. ‘‘We help look at your diet, home care and oral cleaning habits, and what food and drinks might be contributing to your decay.

‘‘A holistic approach is important to achieving long-term health especially when it comes to implants.’’

 Taken from THE AGE Sat 16 Septemebr 2017