I’m quite anxious because I just got a quote from my dentist on how much a single dental implant will be, and I just can’t justify spending $3,000-$4,000 on a single tooth. I don’t want my jaw and other teeth to develop complications from having a tooth missing, but I simply can’t afford an implant. I would love your advice on the future implications of each type of treatment for a single missing tooth.
Here is my story: I’m a healthy female, 27 years old, and I have several small cavities, but until now, no other problems with my teeth. I hadn’t been to a dentist for treatment in 5 years. I finally went to the dentist this month. I got a couple cavities filled by the general dentist, but while attempting a root canal on my upper molar, #14, the endodontist said I have root resorption, which he didn’t realize beforehand when looking at the x-ray – it had appeared I just had a cavity very close to the root. So he said unfortunately he can’t save the tooth and it would need to be pulled and I’d have to get an implant. Several days later I had the tooth pulled, and the dentist packed some human cadaver bone in there and stitched it up as best he could. A week later I came back for a consultation for a dental implant, and this dentist said it’s too early to come up with an exact treatment plan, but I may not have enough room below where the implant would be, so they might have to shave down, or put a crown on my lower molar, #19. He told me to come back in 3 months to see how the bone graft is doing and possibly come up with a final treatment plan. His office assistants printed me a quote of the treatment cost and I was shocked and dismayed to see how expensive dental implants are, and also the possible additional expense of the crown on the lower molar. The dental implant procedure would be $3,460 for everything, and the possible crown on the lower molar would be $1,070. From researching online, I now know dental implants are in fact expensive, but I couldn’t help but feel they were trying to up-sell me on everything since I got there – I was never told of any other options for a missing tooth besides the dental implant, and I just noticed they also included a Sonicare toothbrush for $80 on the printed quote for some reason too.
Since I don’t feel they necessarily have my best interests in mind, I wanted the opinion of an outside party who has nothing to gain by giving me advice on my different options. So, some of the questions going through my head are: Was it necessary to pull the tooth in the first place because of the root resorption, or was the endodontist forced to pull it because he had already started the root canal and couldn’t finish it? Is a dental implant the best option for a single missing molar? What other options do I have? I want to preserve my remaining healthy teeth without spending a few thousand dollars on one tooth. How can I get a fake tooth in place that will help keep my jaw and other teeth structurally sound? I don’t care about cosmetic results because this tooth isn’t visible when smiling/talking. I know this was long, but thank you for reading, thank you for your website, and any help is greatly appreciated!
- Erin from San Diego
External resorption, if it’s on the tip of the root, can sometimes be solved by doing the root canal treatment. However, it sounds like your external resorption was occurring on the side of the root, and there is no way we know of to fix that. There’s a destructive process in the tooth ligament that is eating away at the root. So yes, it sounds like the tooth needed to be pulled.
The fees you are quoting for the implant sound about right. The only thing I would question would be doing the crown on the opposing tooth. Maybe that’s necessary, maybe not. Another option is a bridge, which would cost in the ballpark of 3x the cost of a single crown, which figures out to only a little less than you’ve been quoted for the implant. I’m guessing that this lower tooth has supererupted because there is a lot of tooth structure that was missing on the upper molar they were working on.
I’d put up some resistance to that and see how firm they are in that recommendation. I would think they could adjust the tooth somewhat and have enough room for the implant.
But even so, I like to see that a dentist is willing to work with people who have budget issues. In your case, the dentist could suggest phasing treatment in this way: When you have an implant placed, part of the treatment involves a temporary tooth replacement – often this will be a flipper tooth that snaps in on a piece of plastic. Well, they could do that now and then start the implant in a few months, enabling you to spread out the cost.
Putting an $80 Sonicare electric toothbrush on your treatment plan sounds a little pushy to me. The Sonicare is a nice toothbrush, but you can get a nice manual OralB or Reach toothbrush for a few dollars, and some dental offices give them away, and they work just fine.
If you haven’t yet, mention your budget concerns to the dentist and see what kind of flexibility you get back from them–if they’re willing to work with you to try to make it affordable. If you don’t get a good response, try a second opinion.
But it is important to get to this soon – get something temporary in place of that missing tooth within 2-4 weeks – because the teeth on the sides start tipping in right away.
Response from Erin:
Thank you SO much for your response! I didn’t know I needed a temporary flipper in there right away – nobody told me that, they just told me to come in 3-4 months for the implant. I will definitely get that taken care of, and start saving money for the treatment – I’ll probably just end up getting the implant, since I don’t want to mess with the surrounding teeth to get a bridge, and risk those surrounding teeth getting cavities/needing root canals. And you’re right, the resorption was on the side, he showed me the tooth.
Read more about the cost of dental implants.
Read the pros and cons of a dental bridge vs a dental implant.
Tags: external resorption