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Dental implants

Missing a tooth? Don’t worry, you don’t have to spend your life minding the gap. A dentist can get you an implant that looks so much like the real thing that no one will be able to tell.

fashion and trends Updated: Jun 27, 2010 00:36 IST
Dr Ashish Kakar

Missing a tooth? Don’t worry, you don’t have to spend your life minding the gap. A dentist can get you an implant that looks so much like the real thing that no one will be able to tell.

A dental implant is an artificial root inserted into the bone to replace the missing teeth or to support a denture. Implants are made of titanium, the metal that is also used to make artificial joints for orthopaedic surgery.

As dental surgery goes, implantation is relatively painless and hurts less than a surgical tooth extraction.

While it’s preferred not to place implants in growing children (till 20 years), but there is no upper age limit. My oldest patient was 93 years old when he got his fourth implant.

Advantages

An implant replaces the entire tooth and functions like a natural one. The other option is a “fixed bridge”, which involves grinding down the adjacent healthy teeth to replace the missing tooth.

Though expensive, an implant is less invasive and cost-efficient. An implant restores chewing efficiency by 85-90 per cent, as compared to about 15 per cent from a removable denture and 30-40 per cent from a fixed bridge. It also maintains the bone volume and structure of natural teeth, which has to be ground down for a fixed bridge.

Dental implants have no fixed life. An implant usually lasts between 15-20 years.

How much does it cost?

Implant procedures vary in complexity and design so costs can be very variable. A good quality single-tooth implant costs between Rs 45,000 and Rs 50,000. Some of the popular implant brands are Nobel Biocare, Dentsply-Xive and Zimmer. Cheaper options are available but may have poor quality control on the manufacturing process.