I have had some issues with my teeth for several years now. There is a dental bridge on my top, front teeth which replaces all my front incisor teeth. It is held in place by the two canine teeth. Last year, the teeth that anchor the bridge became loose from the excess force placed upon them. I was seeing dentists at Comfort Dental and they extracted the canines. They recommended that I get a partial denture to replace those missing teeth and to also replace a missing molar. So, I went ahead with the treatment. At this point, I am regretting it. It is very uncomfortable and unnatural looking.
When I told them how I felt about it, they said I’d be happier with dental implants. They said mini implants would be good to keep the cost affordable because they can be expensive. The implant dentists told me that they would work well for the next 10 years. I’m also missing several teeth on the bottom and they want to replace those with a flexible partial denture.
I honestly was disappointed to hear about another partial denture because I had such a bad experience last time with the one on top. I’m also wondering if they can be trusted. At this point, it’s just one treatment after another. They say the mini implant treatments are affordable, but if I’m not happy with them, it all adds up in the end.
So, I decided to to see another dentist to get an independent second opinion. This new dentist had a totally different plan. So, now I’m even more confused. They want to replace the bridge using and the missing, upper molar. Since the teeth on each side of the missing molar are already broken down, they say they’ll both need crowns eventually. So, he wants to replace the missing canine teeth with dental implants and use them to support a new dental bridge to replace all my front teeth on the upper arch. He said mini implants wouldn’t be good and wants to do traditional dental implants. So, that means it’s all more expensive than what Comfort Dental offers. Another option he recommended was to put a third dental implant in the middle of the bridge.
The costs have escalated quickly and I don’t have a big budget. So, I’m seriously considering the less expensive Comfort Dental treatment plan. However, I have my doubts because I haven’t liked what they have done so far.
Do you have any advice about the reputation of Comfort Dental and if the traditional dental implants are better in the long run to replace missing teeth. I don’t know what to do.
-Paul in Nevada
Thank you for your question and for reaching out. Hopefully, this response is helpful to you and also to anyone else who is considering Comfort Dental for dental implants.
Here is a little background information on Comfort Dental. They are a corporate dental clinic with approximately 150 practices throughout the country. Let’s just say, their focus isn’t necessarily on quality care, but they have a corporate business model that is designed to capitalize on profit. Many patients find their service more affordable than a private dental practice, they tend to attract dental professionals who are just getting out of dental school. It’s a good way to gain experience before a dentist will go off and create their own practice. So, it isn’t surprising that the quality of care is lacking. There is a lot of turnover. You will likely get a higher level of quality care from a dentist who owns their own practice. They would care much more about long-term relationships with their patients.
As for the treatment plan you shared from Comfort Dental. Mini implants are not designed to support individual teeth. They aren’t strong enough for that application. They are cheaper to place than traditional dental implants, and they usually serve well to stabilize a complete denture. An estimated life span of 10 years is on the high side. But, even if they last that long, you will not enjoy the experience of a dental implant failure whenever it takes place. So, in 10 years, what are you supposed to do? Your options will be much more limited. You won’t be able to replace them with more mini implants. The reason the implants became loose in the first place is because your bone has deteriorated. So, the next phase of treatment would be bone grafting to build the bone back up before another dental implant will be able to be placed.
The second opinion you received from the dentist who is recommending a bridge for the missing molar makes more sense. This is because it sounds like it will end up needing a crown eventually. If a false tooth is suspended between the two crowns that only adds another $1,000 or so to the total cost. This is a much more practical solution than placing an implant with a crown on it.
In regard to your front teeth, it is difficult to provide you with specific recommendations based on what you shared and without having seen you in person. You didn’t mention how long the bridge was in place before if failed. The high stress placed on the anchor teeth leads me to believe it hadn’t been in for many years. Many other dentists would have used abutment teeth to support the bridge, as shown in the diagram to the left.
If the first diagram of the premolar on the left side of the diagram is missing, there is a line shown in the proposed abutment teeth. You’ll see that the replacement tooth will be suspended between the abutment teeth, which means it will not endure twisting forces.
Then, in the second diagram of the same dental arch, we will imagine we need to replace all four incisors. In this case, we put stress on the edges of the front teeth which does create a twisting force. So, it’s not surprising that you ended up losing both the abutment (supporting) teeth.
Now, it is important to recognize that using traditional dental implants is a permanent solution to missing teeth. They will likely work better than the natural teeth. But, it is still risky to use them to support all the missing front teeth.
So, placing a third dental implant in the middle of the bridge eliminates any twisting forces and likely will give you the most stable result. It may work well for the rest of your life in fact. So, in the long run it could end up being more cost effective and ultimately will give you a better quality of life.
So, don’t always think of the upfront costs or price shop with dental implants. Again, these are simply opinions. But, it sounds like the second dentist has a longer lasting approach with your best interests in mind, when compared to the plan from Comfort Dental.
Thank you for reaching out. It is always good to get a second or even a third opinion when replacing missing teeth.
This post is sponsored by Petaluma dentist Rick Lane, DDS.