For obvious reasons, this one of the most common questions I hear. Dental implants are the best thing that has happened in dentistry. It allows me to save good teeth and provide teeth where the only option used to be a removable denture or a bridge. Dental implants can be affordable.
It is very common for me to replace a whole set of teeth. When you replace a whole set of teeth, you do not need one implant for every missing tooth. Implants are stronger than your own teeth so usually only four to nine implants can replace a whole upper or lower. The new implant teeth may have twelve to fourteen teeth supported by eight dental implants. In general, the more implants you have, the more stable it will be. The last thing you want to do is "under-engineer" the foundation by using an absolute minimum number of implants.
Dental implant treatment can be priced as low as $1600 to as much as $100,000. It totally depends on your situation, how many teeth are missing, how much bone is missing and what you want. There are MANY options.
If you are only missing one tooth, the decision from a cost perspective is easy. A typical dental implant and crown is more of a "final" solution.
Statistically, should you decide to have your teeth ground down for a bridge, your long-term costs will be higher. This is due to the fact that an average bridge last 7 – 10 years. So you will replace the bridge 2 – 4 times in your life. When a bridge fails, most often one of the anchor teeth dies (needs a root canal), fractures, decays or is extracted. Therefore a three tooth bridge replacing only one tooth becomes a four-tooth bridge!
It is a domino effect. Once started, it is continuous. Most people that lose just one tooth and do not replace it, end up losing another, then another…
Much more important than price, is choosing the right implant dentist. Choose based on experience. This can save you money and a lot of grief.
See this post to view some horrible results by some inexperienced implant dentists.
My office is in Burbank, California and I welcome all second opinions.