As we get older, the inevitable happens…we start to loose teeth. I have tried to hold on to mine as long as I can, but there are a couple of my teeth that I know won’t last for long. Dental implants can be the answer for many people. A bridge requires the dentist to basically ruin the teeth on either side of the missing tooth, grinding them down so that they can also be crowned to serve as anchor teeth for the bridge that fills in gap of the missing tooth.
They work well, but they are not going to last forever, and now instead of one tooth missing, you have the possibility of eventually losing the other two as well. The problem with a partial is that you have a piece of plastic and metal in your mouth all the time that you can constantly feel. A dental implant looks and feels like the original tooth, and it is there permanently.
Let me explain a little bit about the procedure. It is not something that can de done in a day, because it takes months for the implant to heal and for the surrounding bone to grow and attach itself. I recently had a friend that went to Mexico to have this procedure done in Mexico, so I will elaborate on his experience.
1. The doctor has to do an oral examination, complete with ex-rays to make sure you are a good candidate. You have to have good bone density and the jaw bone has to be in good shape. Some people will have to start with a bone graft in order to build up the surrounding bone. If you are needing to first have an extraction, especially if it is a molar tooth, you will probably have to have a bone graft, in which they surgically implant an artificial calcium material that the bone adheres to and grows around. The procedure takes about 1 hours per tooth, and will take about 45 days for the healing process to be done, and to be ready for an implant. If you have lost the tooth a long time ago, and the jaw bone is in good shape, you won’t need to have this step done. In Mexico, a bone graft costs $350 per tooth, still much less than the $1200 it costs in San Diego.
2. After drilling a precision hole into the jawbone, the implant, made of titanium, is screwed in. It is coated with hydroxylapatite, which is the main mineral of which dental enamel is comprised. This helps the bone to grow around and bond to the dental implant more thoroughly. The dentist opens up the gum, and using a special machine, he removes the bone in the jaw to prepare it to receive the implant. After insertion of the implant, the gum is sutured closed with dissoluble sutures. The procedure only takes about 1 hour, but you will then have wait for 3 to 4 months for the bone to heal and grow to the implant. Some people have heard about mini-implants that the dentist will attach a crown to the same day, but this procedure in not highly recommended. The fact is, if you are using the implant before the bone can heal and adhere to the implant, it will work loose. Mini implants do not have a very long life expectancy, and may need to be replaced in a couple of years. It is best to do the slower procedure, and have an implant that will last for the rest of your life.
3&4. When you come in to attach the abutment and crown, it will take 2 visits to the clinic, but they can be back to back. First, the dentist will drill into the titanium implant to attach the abutment. He will then make an impression of this post and the surrounding teeth, and send the impressions out to the lab. It normally takes a couple of days for the finished crown to be ready, but if arrangements are made with the lab, the crown can be ready to put on the very next day, and in some cases the same day.
The costs of a dental implant with the abutment and crown in Mexico runs from $1500 to $1850. The same thing in San Diego or Los Angeles runs from $3800 to $4,600. As you can see, the savings is significant.
Is it safe to have this done in Mexico? Although this is not a procedure that can be done by just any dentist, and requires a lot of specialty training in the techniques and procedures, there are many Mexican dentists that have been very well trained to do dental implants. They get a lot of practice at it because this has become a procedure that has become common in Mexico because of the many thousands of Americans who have go over to have it done.