Getting dental implants is a big, yet important decision. Replacing a missing tooth will make you feel good about yourself and some say it can even prevent bone loss.
Dental implants use a titanium implant that fuses to the bone in your jaw, creating a strong anchor for your new teeth. This strong anchor prevents the attached tooth from slipping when you eat or speak.
Although implants can change your life, it is a surgical procedure and there are several important things to consider.
1. Are you allergic to anesthesia?
When you’ve never had surgery, it’s hard to know if you’re allergic to anesthesia. However, if you’ve had a reaction in the past, don’t get dental implants without talking to your doctor.
There are many different types of anesthesia, and you may not be allergic to all of them. Some anesthetics can be tested subcutaneously, and results come within 30 minutes.
If you have a history of anaphylactic reactions, anesthesia reactions, drug allergies, or a latex allergy, talk with your doctor to find out how you can get tested.
Unless you’re exceptionally rich, the price of your implants is an important consideration. Insurance plans don’t usually cover implants. Although there are health benefits, implants are considered cosmetic.
If you need more than one implant, you might be able to afford one, but not all. Find out what the cost would be to get each implant separately. The cost will likely be higher to get all three separately, since they’ll need to administer anesthesia three separate times. If you can’t afford to get all of your implants at once, separate sessions could be the only way you’ll make it work.
Be cautious with medical credit cards
You can also apply for CareCredit, which can provide you with a limit of up to $25,000. Medical credit cards can be helpful, but don’t rely on them unless you absolutely must.
Medical credit cards have some of the highest interest rates you’ll ever see. NerdWallet explains that if you don’t pay off your entire CareCredit debt during the promotional period, you’ll be charged 26.99% in interest on your remaining balance.
3. You might need a bone graft
When getting dental implants, you might need a bone graft if you don’t have enough bone to work with. There are several types of bone grafts:
- Autografts. This graft uses your own bone tissue from your shin, hip, or chin.
- Allografts. This graft comes from a human donor, like a cadaver.
- Xenografts. This type of graft uses bone tissue from animals, mainly cows.
- Alloplasts. Made from hydroxyapatite, this graft uses artificially created bone.
- Ceramic-based grafts. These grafts are made from ceramics, calcium, and bioactive glass.
If you need a bone graft, you’ll need to undergo an additional surgical procedure to obtain the bone tissue from your body. Unless, of course, you’re using synthetic bone tissue.
4. Can you maintain dental hygiene?
After getting implants, it’s important to maintain dental hygiene. This means brushing at least twice per day, flossing, and using a gum massager to remove food particles from gum pockets around your wisdom teeth.
Proper, dedicated dental hygiene will help your implants last longer. Proper care can make implants last a lifetime.
5. Be ready to manage potential infection
Infection is always a possibility after a surgical procedure. Usually, infections are minor and are easy to treat with antibiotics.
Be prepared for this possibility, and have a plan to call your dentist or doctor if you develop signs of infection. The signs to watch out for include:
- Painful chewing
- Fever and swelling
- A persistent bad taste in your mouth
- Bleeding or pus
- A loose implant
You can talk about this possibility with your dentist ahead of time, and they’ll tell you everything to look out for and when to be concerned.
6. Have someone take care of you
Dental implants aren’t incapacitating, but it’s nice to have someone take care of you after any procedure. Having someone around can lessen your stress, anxiety, and pain during recovery.
Nobody likes to do household chores or run errands when they’re in pain, and it’s not generally safe to drive while taking pain medication.
Your dental implants will change your life
Once you’ve accounted for your needs and all potential outcomes, it will be easier to get your dental implants. Once you’re healed and have a chance to live your life as usual, you’ll be glad you got implants.