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Why so Many Dental Implant Choices?

One of the most frequent questions when discussing dental implant choices with patients,  is “what would you do doc?”. Many times, the answer is clear cut and there is only 1 option, and when this is the case I will tell you so.  However, often there are choices.  For example, when getting a tooth extracted, there are 4 basic restorative options: dental implant, fixed partial denture (a bridge), removable partial denture (partial or flipper) or no replacement at all.

Let’s say you go with the implant (wise choice I might add). Even this has multiple avenues, all with similar success rates.  Traditionally, surgeons have extracted the tooth, placed a graft and 2-3 months later, returned to place the implant.   You don’t even have to place a graft, but you will possibly have to wait longer to have the implant placed and the longer you wait, the more bone you may lose in the process.  There are, however, plenty of patients that, at the time of extraction, either did not want an implant or could not afford any grafting.  Given the wide array of implant options available to day, even the patients with years of bone loss can have implants placed, often very simply.   Now, assuming that conditions are right, we can also place the implant immediately at the time of extraction.  This option is chosen the majority of the time as it is the most attractive option for many reasons.  The time from extraction to tooth replacement is significantly decreased.  The number of surgical procedures is decreased.  The success rate is similar to the previous methods, and in many cases can be better.  In most cases, I would say that immediate placement is my preferred route for the reasons I just listed, but as you can see, it’s not the only route.

I believe it is my job to explain those choices to you and help you decide which one is best, for you.   It’s not that I want to be non-committal to avoid being pinned down, because if you need something to be a certain way or a particular treatment option is going to yield the best result, I will tell you.  It’s more that we want to make sure you know all of your choices, that you understand the pros and cons of those choices, and then ultimately to help guide you to make the right choice, for you.