It is possible to measure dental services using two different currencies, monetary & biological. An easy way to understand this concept to use the example of a person who is missing one upper front tooth. The person’s gums are healthy. Their other teeth are in good alignment but have become darker over time & are otherwise healthy & sound. The persons wish is for a fixed replacement tooth and to brighten the surrounding teeth.
One destructive option is to use bridgework to replace the missing tooth and crown the other teeth. If the persons shows eight teeth when they smile, this may result in seven teeth being crowned. This is a perfectly valid treatment and may suit the patient for any number of reasons. The monetary cost of this approach will be dependent on the quality of the planning, quality of the tooth preparation, time & technique plus the type, quality + aesthetics of the materials & technical work. Ultimately all these factors affect the outcome and long term success of the plan.
The Biological cost is high because the natural tissues once removed cannot be replaced. All the teeth which have been prepared for crowns will need new crowns after a period of time & approximately 20% of teeth with crowns may/will require root treatment in time. More time will be required in daily maintenance by the patient & more dental surgery time will be required to maintain the crowns. This is the model used by dental tourism where a lot of important decisions are made in a short period of time, often with little mention of maintenance, frequently with a financial incentive & pressure to get the treatment completed quickly. It is easy to match the colour of eight adjacent teeth when you artificially make them of the same material at the same time. The question to be asked is: who is served best by this approach, the dental clinic involved in dental tourism or the patient?
As with most things in life, good work takes planning & time.
The alternative reconstructive approach is to regenerate the missing bone & gum (if required) replace the missing tooth with a dental implant & whiten the other teeth. This approach has a low biological cost & is not destructive. Technically it may be more difficult to match one replacement tooth to the adjacent natural teeth. The initial financial cost may be lower or even be higher, than the more destructive alternative; however seven teeth have not been touched & will therefore never need treatment. If the effects of tooth whitening fade over time, it can be easily topped up. Even in the worst case scenario, the implant can be replaced & the bone regenerated so the person is no worse off than they were before treatment started. The potential higher initial cost is offset by lower maintenance & often works out financially cheaper over time.
The same logic applies to retaining teeth which are badly damaged but restorable. Retaining the tooth by means of a root canal therapy & restoration (tooth coloured restoration or a crown) is a low biological cost option.
We endeavour to help you choose the best options for your dental care. At the same time we try where possible to keep your options open for the future. This is especially important in cases of accident / injury, where often the effects of the original damage are unpredictable & may not become apparent until many years later.
The practice has the expertise, experience & training to help you make the right choice. Thanks to the new road network we are even easier to get to. To arrange a consultation please give us a call.