Front Tooth Dental Implant - Charlotte, NC

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Thought I would write a briefing to help folks...

Thought I would write a briefing to help folks contemplating a front tooth dental implant. This is my experience with cost, surgeries, life through the process. Hope it helps.

46, fit female, active, non-smoker, non-drinker. I broke my front tooth with a baton at 16 and over the next 30 years had several fake teeth.

December 2013:

Last Christmas, my face swelled up and there was some pain in the general area of that tooth, so I assumed it was time to get another fake one. But the dental x-ray showed a big black circular hole - it was where the bone had deteriorated away. I had to start taking antibiotics immediately, and wait for the inflammation to go down before anything could be done. Antibiotics cheap, $8.

The first dentist I went to came up with a $10,000 plan, after charging me $80 for a 'consultation'. I was cost shell-shocked. The next day I started calling around to gage the pricing and looked online. I found such a wide range of costs for the service that I knew I needed some consultations. So...first lesson if you are in the same your homework on pricing. There is no set price with anyone out there.

Second thing I learned was that insurance did not cover implants. So you will need to be prepared financially for that impact as well. My cost homework yielded me estimates for a front tooth with bone graft to be $4000-12,000. That's the bad news. The good news is that you usually pay as you go - meaning, you pay for the surgeon up front, then months later pay for the actual implant. So the cost is broken up for your budgeting a little.

You then need to recognize you will be selecting a dentist and an oral surgeon. Most of the time you need both. I decided to select the surgeon, then ask them for the dentist referral. This was a costly endeavor, so I wanted a good solid experienced, but reasonable, person.

After selection, you will have to have a complete set of x-rays which cost me about $100. They are shared between the surgeon and dentist.

Since it is a front tooth, you probably will want a 'flipper,' which is a fake tooth on a denture. The dentist will make a mold of your teeth and order that. It takes about two weeks, and my cost was a flat $500. A flipper was a necessity for me to feel presentable. You will be wearing it for months, so the money is worth it. I cleaned the flipper with either denture tablets or toothpaste. Be careful to not drop the flipper or leave it sitting around. They are mostly plastic and breakable.

So in February I had phase 1 of the implant surgery. Outside the x-ray and flipper, you actually work with the surgeon more until the end, when you switch back to your dentist. My surgeon was excellent (I can provide referrals if you live in NC). His office also offered a nice cash discount, which essentially paid the flipper cost. There was also a referral discount from using the dentist recommended. So overall I felt it was a good surgeon at a fair price. You pay upfront, so it was $2400 in January. That covered the first surgery, follow up appointments, and the final surgery.

The surgeon does have a consultation before surgery is scheduled, basically some more x-rays and discussion. Less than an hour. I think there was a $40-50 charge.

I had the bone grafting along with the implant prep.
Surgery day is surprisingly easy - easier than sitting in a dentist chair for a filling. You go in, they put you under anesthesia, and you walk out about an hour later with assistance. Plan on someone driving and staying with you through surgery time. The surgery takes about 30 minutes for one front tooth. So prep and wake up take up the other 30.

I went straight from my surgeon's office to the dentist after surgery. The dentist then fitted me for the flipper that was ordered. You'll leave the flipper in until your follow up appointment with the surgeon. It helps keep swelling down. I didn't have much outward facial bruising or swelling. Some but not bad.

You will go home with a prescription for pain meds. Take them before anesthesia wears completely off. You'll sip on water and take it easy rest of day, and eat mushy stuff for food. All surgeries have pain. But it is manageable and the pain meds take away most discomfort. I was on my computer that evening. I would take it easy though.

The next couple days are salt water rinses, back to gentle brushing, and getting used to seeing yourself toothless. haha The flipper helps mentally. It is not comfortable until the swelling subsides, about two weeks. But not bad. It reminds me of having Wurthers Original candies stuck on the roof of your mouth. And your teeth feel tight.

February to October
Then you are in wait-mode for the bone graft to grow and heal. Mine took from February until October. I didn't have much in complications, other than another bout of antibiotics with the tooth area having some inflammation, and the gum not completely covering the screw.

During that time I had no pain, and adjusted to wearing the flipper. I didn't eat with mine in too often. If you bit wrong with it you would get a metal 'stab' feeling in your side tooth and I didn't like that. Salad is difficult, and you don't want to bite into things. But you can figure out how to eat most things. I did notice my dining out reduced a lot, as well as my eating with other folks. You will also talk a little funny, but more without the flipper. So there are a few mental things around the process too. But I would remind myself its not forever, and that I was grateful to be able to afford to do it when so many people cannot.

Second phase surgery to put the temporary abutment in. Same type of timeframe, and went to dentist afterward. The dentist placed a temporary tooth on for two months, to wait for healing. That temporary tooth cost was $500. This surgery hurts a bit, but again you have some meds to help. My surgery also had to have a bit of gum draft so that area is tender for a little while.

Upcoming will be the final abutment and implant tooth. It will be $2000. I will update you on that process then.

So overall, my front tooth cost is $5,500
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