Saturday, September 19, 2015

DENTAL IMPLANTS FOR THE CLUELESS - Dental Implant Procedures, Prices, Best Dental Tourism Dentists

Certified Dentists Internationale’s Dr. Terrado  writes about dental implants including US, Mexico & Asia costs.

When someone tells you they are having a dental implant would you have any idea what it is or how it is done?

Let me keep it simple so you can explain it to your teenager after your umpteenth lecture to them about laying off the tooth destroying soda drinks.

First, Implant surgery is done in a dental clinic. But not by just any dentist.. A specialty dentist usually an orthodontist, oral surgeon or prosthodontist are licensed to perform this procedure. Now practice saying orthodontist and prosthodontist so you can say those words clearly - not like when your gums and tongue are full of novacaine.

Most know the orthodontist as the dentist who sets braces. A prosthodontist is not as commonly known. This specialist treats a variety of oral issues including cosmetic, maxillofacial, replacement of missing teeth and temporomandibular(tmj) disorder (say it again). They all have to study 3-4 more years beyond basic dental college. Implants are surgery.

The best dental implants are made of aircraft quality titanium metal screws, an abutment and crown. The finished result will look like and can function like real teeth. You can go back to eating apples, carrots, steaks and more with your implants. But to preserve your investment - treat them as they were your natural teeth - don’t crush ice, crack nuts or open bottle caps with them.

The first thing  the doctors  want to see before beginning implant procedure is a panoramic picture of your teeth  (or whatever is left of your teeth), together with the jawbone. A pano is a picture of the entire mouth, both the upper and lower ranging 180 degrees from ear to ear made by a special (and expensive) x-ray machine. From this picture the dentist can see if your bones are a good candidate (having sufficient density) for implanting artificial teeth.

If the dentist sees that the bones in your jaw are not dense enough to support  an implant, they may decide to do an augmentation (bone graft).  This may be done at the same time as the implant or as a separate procedure.

Besides evaluating the panoramic, the dentist will also do an in-chair clinical exam checking your gum health, which teeth are healthy and can be saved, how many implants will be required. If a full-mouth oral restoration, the dentist will suggest options for you to consider ranging from all conventional implants to mini implant secured dentures or other prosthesis such as  4 on 1 and All on 1.

Now we are ready to start the actual implant procedure.

Of course with every surgery there needs to be some pain medications. Usually the dentist will use a local anesthesia that can directly be injected onto the gum. If the patient is more anxious than usual they can be given sedation with nitrous oxide by sublingual pill or intravenously by a doctor  of anesthesiology.  

Step 1: The dentist will have to surgically implant into your gums something that looks like a screw. This will act like the root of your new teeth. When the screw is implanted you will have to go on a soft foods diet to protect the screw (or root) from chewing. It has to be safe-guarded so that it heals properly.

2. Months later, the dentist checks the screw (the root in step 1)  to make sure it has grown into the bone. This is called osseointegration. I’ll let you say that out loud again.

That done the dentist will again insert into the gums a post called an abutment to the screw. This time,  because the abutment needs to go through your gums, your gums will need time to heal again and allow it to form a cuff around the abutment.

3. Later, the dentist will open the gum cuff around the abutment and will set the “crown”. This will cover the abutment and will be like the teeth that you lost. You can choose the color shades for the crown(s). Steps1-3 are often done in 2 visits.

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The implanting can be done in one go (One Day implants). Implanting the screw on and the abutment on at the same time. For this procedure your oral and general health have to excellent and it is not recommended for molars. Your dentist will know if you are a candidate for One Day implants.

When you are a candidate for a dental implant, make sure you consult with an orthodontist or prosthodontist. In Mexico, Thailand and other developing nations where consumer protection laws are more lax - general dentists are permitted to attempt implantology learning on the job at the patient’s expense. Some will take a quickie weekend course in implants by an implant manufacturer. Be careful as a short course does not in any way equate 3-4 years of additional specialist training in oral surgery.

Dental nightmares often start when patients select a discount implant clinic.  

What can go wrong? Infections, misaligned implants, implants set too close, implants set in patients who are unsuitable for implants, poor quality implants that soon fail - often set by a less-trained general dentist - and the list goes on. Many of those scary  stories you hear about dental tourism from your dentist back home are true.

But one thing the American, Mexican and many other dental associations agree on is that when you go abroad for dental care - you will get the very best quality and treatment when you select a Board Certified Dentist. Forget the general dentists unless you need a cleaning or filling - for that’s what they are trained for. 

If the general dentist calls themselves an “implant specialist” and proudly displays a certificate of attendance at a half-day seminar in implants at a dental convention, or certificate from the implant manufacturer - run.

Board Certification comes after graduating from dental specialist college and taking the Board exams - written, lab demonstrative and oral. Only 1% of dentists are Board Certified. 

They are the best of the best and the ones you want. And in most developing nations - they cost the same as far-less trained general dentists.

Dental Implant Costs- US, Mexico, Asia

  • Panoramic x-ray costs range from $25 in Manila, $65 in Mexico and $200- 300 in the US. (Same equipment.)
  • Bone grafts (30% of patients require them) $500 in Mexico - $1,250 in the US
  • Sinus lift surgery. Often required. $1,000 in Mexico, - $2,500 in the US
  • Prices for name brand implants in the US range from $3,000 to $5,000 per unit complete with crown. The higher price reflecting clinics in upscale communities.
  • Prices in Mexico for top brand implants like Nobel Biocare range from $2,000 to $2,600 complete with crown in Mexico. A few hundred less in Manila.
  • Low priced implants have a higher failure rate and shorter longevity.

Quality implants will last 20 yrs. to a lifetime. Be wary of discount implant clinics often found in border towns who promote  slightly lower cost “FDA approved” they claim (read made in China or Brazil) implants. These may last only 6-8 years. The additional cost for top brands is the better value. Implants do fail - and who wants to go through the ordeal of surgery again after several years?

So there you have it. Now you can impress your family and friends with your clinical knowledge of implantology.

I work for Board Certified Dentists Internationale’ which began almost  2 decades ago in Mexico City as the Board Certified Mexico Dentist Association and is now worldwide.
Our staff (including me) of patient advisers and doctors are available to assist you with Free estimates and referrals without any additional cost.

Please visit our website at: Certified Dentists Internationale’

Bless all,

Doctora Christina Carino Terrado MD

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Patient Adviser
Board Certified Internationale’

Dr. Terrado welcomes your comments and questions about medical and  dental tourism to Mexico and Asia. Email her at:

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