For many, the idea of getting dental implants seems both scary and expensive. More often than not, teeth that can’t be saved are simply pulled out and that person is left with a noticeable gap.
And with the rising cost of dental care in America, fixing issues that seem more cosmetic than urgent often takes a back seat to more pressing matters. But over time, these missing teeth can contribute to more problems, and even eat away at your self-esteem. Especially if the missing teeth are noticeable.
So, how do you decide when to take the plunge and invest in your smile?
Affordable Implants Aren’t Just a Pipe Dream Anymore
The good news is that the rise in dental tourism has paved the way for professional, high-quality dental care at much more affordable prices. Countries like Costa Rica, Mexico, Colombia, and more, are now able to take advantage of their lower operating costs- and pass those savings onto thousands of international patients who are willing to travel for their dental care.
Not all of these countries offer the same prices of course, but overall, prices can be as much as 50% less than comparable treatments in America, while meeting all the same health and safety standards we have come to expect.
It sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. At least, not when you take the time to find certified professionals, accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Many of these dentists are trained and certified in the U.S. or Europe!
What IS a Dental Implant?
I guess the first step in deciding is to understand what a dental implant is. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, an implant is an artificial tooth root that is placed in your mouth (more specifically, your jawbone). It takes the place of the natural root that has been removed due to extraction.
Why is this important? Because your jawbone needs the stimulation provided by your roots to maintain bone density. In other words, if your body knows there is no longer a tooth in that space, it will decide that it no longer needs bone there to hold the tooth, and it will slowly reabsorb the bone.
Okay, so back to teeth. This implant takes the form of what looks like a big screw that is “implanted” (hence the name) into the space where your natural root was. Over time, your body will grow around it as it heals and it will become a permanent fixture. This process is called osseointegration, and it’s part of the reason why implants are so strong.
Here is a visual to help you understand how it works.
Once the implant is in place, the dentist will create an artificial tooth called a crown which attaches to the metal root and fills in the space. At Meza Dental, the implant is made with titanium, the abutment, which is the piece that connects the implant to the crown is made of either titanium or zirconia (which is becoming increasingly popular due to its white color), and the crown is custom-made using zirconia to look like the missing tooth.
We use zirconia because it is not only extremely strong but also very smooth. This smooth surface makes it hard for bacteria to stick to your new tooth (or teeth), helping you keep it (or them) clean. Another benefit of zirconia is that its translucent nature mimics the natural enamel of your teeth.
When Should I Consider Implants?
So, if the high price of dental care in the states is no longer holding you back, maybe it’s time to think about dental implants and what they can mean for your quality of life. You may not think that missing a few teeth has affected it, but it’s the little things that creep up on us… things that eventually become such a habit that we don’t even think about it anymore.
That’s why we’ve put together 10 signs that it might be time for dental implants, including:
- You think twice about ordering that steak or other chewy foods, even if they’re personal favorites.
Losing molars that are used to grind up tough foods like steak or crusty bread can make eating difficult, especially if you lose more than one, or if the remaining molars do not line up. If you find yourself moving your food around a lot while you’re chewing, this might be why. It’s important to note that unnaturally moving your jaw can cause pain in those muscles and tendons. Dental implants will fill those gaps and provide a complete chewing surface.
- Foods that are even a little too hot or too cold cause you pain
Sensitivity to hot and cold foods can be a sign of tooth decay, but it can also mean that a nerve is exposed due to thinning enamel, or receding gums. This type of issue doesn’t resolve itself and can become painful.
- You’re distracted at dinner time with worry that your partial might pop out
As you age, you can experience bone loss and shrinkage. This can cause dentures and partials that you have used for years to become loose, resulting in movement during chewing. This can cause sore areas along the gums, breakage, or the occasional embarrassing moment when your adhesive fails. Dental implants are a permanent solution to this problem.
- You’re constantly dealing with stuck popcorn kernels, wedged meat and vegetables, and other foods that get stuck in gaps in your teeth
The only real solution to this kind of problem is to fill that hole and prevent painful jabs or impacted foods.
- You’ve adjusted your smile to hide cracked or broken teeth
Consciously changing the natural shape of your smile can have side effects you may not think about, like unusual wrinkle patterns or jaw pain. The best solution is to fix the underlying problem and let that beautiful smile loose!
- You avoid smiling entirely because you’re not happy with how it looks
If you consciously avoid smiling because you are embarrassed, then you aren’t really enjoying life to the fullest. Laughing and smiling should be a natural, happy event.
- You have multiple fillings that consistently break or chip,
Sometimes fillings are large enough to damage the structural integrity of the remaining tooth and pieces of the tooth will break off when you chew hard foods. In this case, the only permanent solution is to extract the tooth. By replacing that tooth with an implant, you maintain the full functionality of your mouth.
- You have a partial bridge that no longer fits properly or is causing undue wear on neighboring teeth- putting them at risk,
As with dentures, the fit of your partials can change as you age and your bone structure changes. This can cause breakage and soreness, but excessive movement during chewing can also cause damage to the teeth which hold your partial in place. Eventually, you may need to repair or remove those teeth as well.
- Chewing is a chore because you’re missing key teeth, or your remaining molars don’t line up properly
While most people will still be able to chew with one or two missing teeth, losing several makes chewing many kinds of food difficult. If you find yourself leaning towards a soft food diet simply because it’s easier, you may not be getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need.
- You’re ready to feel great about your teeth again
Last but not least, your smile is important, and not only because it is an integral part of what makes you… you! The freedom, comfort, and confidence that we feel when we’re happy with our smile can make a world of difference in our sense of well-being and pride.
The Time Might Be Sooner Than You Think
Any time you change your normal behavior because of a dental issue, it chips away at your quality of life, your health, and in many cases, your self-confidence.
These are things that we do consciously. We make a choice, for whatever reason, to deal with the discomfort, because it can seem harder to fix than to leave it.
But what people seldom realize is that not dealing with the gaps left by extracted teeth has other consequences too.
- loss of bone in the jaw,
- increased potential for gum disease and infections (caused by food/bacteria that can get lodged in the spaces,
- leaning/spreading teeth…
The bottom line is that getting dental implants isn’t just about not having a gap in your smile (although that’s a definite plus). Dental implants return your mouth to its natural state, restore the integrity of your bite, and allow you to chew the way you were meant to. All of these things contribute, not only to your dental health but to your overall physical and mental well-being.
No one should have to live with consistent pain or discomfort.
The Benefit of Dental Implants
It’s important to understand that dental implants aren’t the only option when it comes to fixing the issues mentioned above. However, when it comes right down to it, the dental implants made today are so strong and reliable that they essentially come with a lifetime guarantee (40 years to be exact), and, thanks to modern technology, they look and function just like your natural teeth.
They don’t require you to remove them each night for cleaning, and they don’t move around while you’re chewing!
So back to our original question then… how do you know if dental implants are the right choice for you?
Is the Time Right For Me?
The person most qualified to answer that is your dentist because every patient has a unique set of circumstances. However, for this article, here are some qualities that make you a good candidate for dental implants:
- you are missing one or more teeth (if you are missing most of your teeth, or your existing teeth can’t be saved, all-on-x may be a better choice for you)
- you have enough bone structure to be able to attach the implant
- you are healthy, (diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc can impede the healing process)
As you can see, dental implants are a pretty viable option for most people who have a few missing teeth or teeth that need to be replaced. The main benefit of dental implants is their strength and longevity, but they are also popular since once they are in, you can forget about them. You just brush and floss your teeth the way you normally would.
Now that you know all about dental implants, maybe it’s time to think about how many of those signs you have, and whether or not dental implants could be right for you. If you’ve been putting your dental health on the back burner for financial reasons, and the idea of exploring dental tourism appeals to you, we’re here to help.
The Meza Dental Difference
We at Meza Dental can give you back your smile, and we can do it at a fraction of the price that you would pay in America, all from the comfort of beautiful tropical destinations like Cancún and Costa Rica.
With 50 years of combined dental experience, and a dedicated laboratory capable of producing the highest quality natural-looking implants, you can rest assured knowing you are in good hands.
Still, we understand that dental implants are a big, often uncertain process, and our friendly, English-speaking staff are happy to answer all of your questions, and can even provide a free consultation so you can make an informed decision.
Let us restore your smile to its former glory, and enjoy a little sunshine and warmth while you’re at it. You’ll be glad you did!
You can also call us toll-free from the US or Canada at 1-(877)-337-6392