If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to get some teeth to fill those big gaping holes in your mouth - implants may be your best bet.
On Monday I attended an epic continuing education event on implants in Chicago. It was held at a very nice restaurant called Via Veneto. It was all fancied up like a wedding with shiny curtains draped all over the place and pretty glasses. Many of the Chicago hygienists were all gussied up for the implant education event of the season and had business suits on. Some had even changed into high heels for the evening.
I was dressed for winter with my flat shoes and Green Bay Packers jacket. I felt a little out of place in the middle of Bear territory at such a fancy place. Then it hit me that this must be how toothless people feel all the time. Like a Packer jacket in Chicago Bears territory. The toothless feel like they don't fit in.
Jamie Schoessling was the headliner act. She is a hygienist who knows all about getting patients to pay out the big bucks for implants rather than going the usual “What does my insurance cover?” route. She got herself a job with a elongated title of ‘Restorative Implant Treatment Coordinator’ and works in an dental office with 20 employees. She said the job title got her to where she just has to clean teeth on Wednesdays and the rest of the week she works on getting patients to pay for implants instead of getting the insurance covered bridges. That must be the life. Schoessling graduated from Marquette University Dental Hygiene program in Milwaukee.
Imagining Schoessling might be a Packers fan because she went to Marquette made me feel less out of place there with all the white curtains over the chairs and crystal chandelier above us. Schoessling stated several times that she feels implants are the best choice for replacing missing teeth.
I have to agree with Schoessling about implants. They are the best replacements for teeth in the long run.
Schoessling talked about how much things have improved with implants. Patients don't have to wait so long now for the implant to fuse to the bone. They install implants above the gums now too. Schoessling brought up a choice one patient had to make between taking a cruise and getting an implant.
Personally, even as a dental hygienist, I had to pause at that one. If I was faced with that decision I may have taken the cruise over the implant. I have never been on a cruise but then again I have never lost a tooth by accident or through dental disease either. But I do know the feeling of being at this event dressed so Wisconsin in a place full of well dressed hygienists in Chicago.
Insurance companies usually don’t cover implants. Implants are so much better for patients than trimming two perfectly good teeth down to fit a bridge over the gap where a tooth has fallen out. It seems to me that it would be smarter for insurance companies to cover implants than bridges. Bridges seem to need replacing sometimes and they don’t last forever.
If one day I was suddenly made CEO at a dental insurance company, my first change would be that all implants would be covered.
Usually an MBA who never set foot in a dental school or worked in a dental office runs the business end of dental insurance. The goal of a dental insurance company is to turn as high a profit as possible. My first day as CEO would probably be may last day if I did that. The board of directors would walk me to the door because they would not see as many bonuses for themselves. I feel the best treatment for the patient should rule over higher profits. That is why CEO doesn't appear anywhere on my resume.
I started to wonder, as my mind usually does at continuing education events, if any PhD candidate ever did a study on dental insurance executives and how much the tooth fairy left for them as kids. They don't seem to see the value of implants over destroying perfectly good teeth to make a bridge. I starting thinking that the tooth fairy wasn't very generous with them as small children and it must have made them scrooges about paying for other people's teeth.
If you are hoping that the tooth fairy is going to leave you the money for an implant under your pillow I have some news for you. That is as likely to happen as a dental insurance company paying for your implants.
In conclusion, if you are struggling with making the choice between buying an implant and purchasing a super deluxe ice fishing shanty, buy the implant. Then again you could always wait for me to become CEO one day at a dental insurance company. Until that day happens you may have to keep walking around toothless and feel like I did at this meeting being a Packer fan in Chicago Bear territory. Get the implants.