Many of my patients ask what will happen if they don’t get a dental implant to replace their missing teeth, or how long they can put off getting the procedure.
There are 2 common motivations behind these questions:
- Fear about the process, surgery, and recovery
- Anxiety about the cost of the procedure, and how they’ll fit dental implant surgery into their budget
I’ve previously discussed how I help my patients ease their fears surrounding dental implant surgery, as well as the surprising affordability of the procedure.
Today, let’s address those common patient questions about avoiding or postponing dental implant surgery.
What Happens if You Don’t Get Dental Implants – Or Put Off the Procedure
Most patients don’t realize that waiting too long to get and implant placed can have severe adverse effects on their dental health. This lack of understanding, unfortunately, leads most people to wait far too long to have their dental implant surgery.
I’ve worked on enough dental implant patients to tell you in no uncertain terms: putting off or forgoing dental implant surgery is to your own detriment – it negatively affects your oral health, your overall health, and your budget.
The result is often needing even more dental work than if they’d dealt with the problem earlier – and this leads to longer, more expensive procedures.
It simply isn’t worth it.
Postponing or Forgoing Dental Implant Surgery: What Can Go Wrong
Too many things can go wrong when patients decide not to get dental implants – and patients who put off their dental implant surgery face similar problems.
Postponing even a simple tooth extraction can be a huge mistake: the more time a bad tooth is in your mouth, the more harm it can do to your adjacent teeth.
Putting off or opting against dental implants only makes things worse.
Going as little as 12 months with a missing tooth (including extractions) causes the bone to atrophy: that is, bone density and height decrease and deteriorate almost immediately. A year into that process means that instead of a single dental implant, you’ll likely face a bone graft as well. The bone grafting procedure, while not completely horrific, is still more painful and more expensive than a simple dental implant.
Another unwanted consequence of postponing (or simply not getting) dental implants comes with the positioning of your teeth. Your teeth work together as partners: your other teeth shift in response to changes in the mouth, including missing teeth. For example, your large molars in the back can tip forward into an implant space – when you wait too long to get a dental implant, there might not be adequate space for the new tooth. Also, the opposing tooth without a partner, can erupt out of your arch and cause issues with your bite. Your adjacent teeth begin to shift – it’s a gradual process, but it starts immediately after you lose a tooth. The eruption issues can also cause temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ or TMD) – which causes chronic pain in your jaw.
Both scenarios can lead to patients needing some form of orthodontics, including braces, clear aligners, or a temporary anchorage device to upright the tooth and make space for the implant. Again, this is a process that’s longer, more unpleasant, and more costly than simply opting for immediate dental implant surgery.
Still not convinced? There’s more.
Waiting to get your implant can also cause you to bite your tongue and cheeks more. While this doesn’t sound like anything major, it can quickly lead to problems with eating. You can also cause further damage to your oral health by overtaxing the side of your mouth that doesn’t have a missing tooth. Once again, if this is allowed to go on long enough, you’ll be back in the dentists’ chair, likely facing expensive and more complex procedures than if you’d had your implant placed immediately.
Getting Dental Implants Immediately: Why It’s Important
It’s important for patients to remember that dental implants not only permanently restore their smile (oftentimes in a single visit!), but also that the procedure itself is an investment in their confidence, appearance, and oral health.
Patients worried about the cost of dental implants should remember that the procedure is very affordable, and that waiting to have the surgery done ends up being more expensive in the long term.
Similarly, patients who have anxiety about the dentist or fear of the dental implant procedure itself should read up on everything we do – from local anesthetic to IV sedation – to make sure that all of our patients are calm, comfortable, and relaxed.
And everyone should remember that the success rate for an implant is much higher when patient’s take care of it within the recommended time frame.
Facing the implant process can be anxiety-provoking for patients.
This is more than understandable, but irrational fears should never drive your health decisions. The truth is, dental implant surgery is never as bad as my patients think it will be, and they always love the results.
The longer you wait, the harder it is. If you’re still feeling apprehensive, have a look at my new before and after video featuring some of my dental implant patients. Hopefully, this will help ease any anxieties or doubts you have about the surgery.
If you’re still nervous, don’t worry: you can always schedule a consult with me so we can talk through what’s causing you to want to postpone or forgo your dental implant surgery.
Take action today – even if it just means picking up the phone– and you’ll be glad you did.
All of my patients tell me what an incredible and life-changing experience dental implants has been, and how much better they feel after the procedure is finished.
I’m ready to help, and I can’t wait to hear from you.