Dr. Timo Paberit, surgeon at Merimetsa Hambakliinik
Luckily, in our specialty, we hardly ever have to deliver very bad news. In most cases we can help the patients and give them a beautiful new smile and a better quality of life. However, it may not be so easy all the time and there are situations where we cannot offer a simple solution. Why so? As one of my colleagues once said to a patient after a consultation, the situation is far from being funny. Nowadays we try to prevent dental diseases and, I believe, do that rather successfully. In addition to dentists we also have a dental hygienist Maarja Paberit working in our clinic; in addition to preforming cleanings she also advises patients on dental hygiene in order to prevent diseases.
Basic prophylaxis is essential to avoiding cavities and gum diseases. But what if the damage has already been done and the problem is not just cavities but already dead or extracted teeth? Although the reasons for tooth loss can be various, we often hear the same responses: “I do not see a problem.” “No tooth, no problem!” “I am not bothered by the situation.” “What happens when I do nothing?” “Will it danger my dental health?” The answer in no, but missing teeth that are not replaced on time can cause several problems in the long run, which, in some cases, can be severe.
Luckily, patients become more and more aware of the need of replacing missing teeth. However, the word “dentures” has a negative connotation for the younger patients and is related to something placed in a glass of water on you nightstand. They ask, whether the situation is really that bad that dentures are needed. Modern dental prostheses are not dentures you keep in a glass of water at night. Any artificial addition that serves to replace missing teeth is a dental prosthesis; even laminates are essentially prostheses. Nowadays, removable prostheses became more and more rare, and so do dental bridges that are attached to the patient’s own teeth. The reason is very simple: the best solution for replacing teeth is implantation. It is a fast-developing specialty that can hopefully prevent problems related to bite, erosion of teeth, and joint problems in the lower-jaw.
Some myths related to dental implantation. People are often afraid that implants are extremely expensive. Yes, they are slightly costlier that some other type of prostheses, however, their long life expectancy, smaller maintenance costs and the possibility to keep surrounding healthy teeth gives this method a significant advantage. With an implant, the patient will not feel like a prosthetic has been installed and, therefore, getting used to it will not take time. Implantation and its cost is comprised of several stages and several specialist work on it.
I would not stress the cost of implants and the technology, it is clear without saying that the materials and instruments are costly. More importantly, in that specialty, doctors need a lot of additional training. Nowadays, more courses are being held here, in Estonia, but in order to become an excellent specialist, one must also invest in training in other countries. The cost of a major conference is more or less the equivalent of the price of one dental implantation.
Another frequent question is, whether implantation hurts much? We hope that our patients have experienced minimal pain, and we can say that thanks to modern anaesthetics the process is painless. You may experience some discomfort during the recovery, but usually the procedure is less traumatic than tooth extraction, for example.
All patients also wish to know, how long the prosthesis will last and do they have a lifetime guarantee. We can say that in 95% of the cases the results are very good and long-lasting. However, we should not forget, that implants are placed in the oral cavity and, therefore, need to be taken care of like natural teeth. All people should visit the dentist once a year, in any case. In more difficult cases, the check-ups should be more frequent. It is impossible to give e lifetime guarantee since the implant is placed in the oral cavity and the conditions there can be inconsistent. However, if the implantation is successful and the normal function of the teeth is restored, then the implant will last a very long time, why not a lifetime. One of the most important parts is the planning stage. We work in the biggest specialist practice in Tallinn and we have state-of-the-art diagnostics’ technology and computer software which enables us to plan the treatment as precisely as possible.