We’ve said before that dental implants are the best way to replace one or more missing teeth. And now we have the science to prove it.
A recent study compared different tooth replacement options and found that people with dental implants had higher quality of life than people who had other methods of tooth replacement. Not only that–they had higher quality of life than the national average.
Tooth Replacement Impacts Quality of Life
This study comes from Japan, where researchers looked at the oral health quality of life (OHQoL) of 560 people in their 50s who had lost a molar in their lower arch, called the mandible.
All had replaced their lost molar using one of three methods. Some got dental implants. Some got a dental bridge, called a fixed dental prosthesis (FDP) in this study. And some got a partial denture, called a removable dental prosthesis (RDP) in this study.
The scale for quality of life went from 0 to 1, where 0 was completely unsatisfied and 1 was completely satisfied. The national average for this score in Japan is 0.84. For comparison, the people in this study had the following responses for quality of life:
- Dental implant: 0.88
- FDP: 0.83
- RDP: 0.71
People with dental implants obviously had the highest quality of life, even higher than the national average. But the good news is that people with dental bridges had essentially the same quality of life as the national average. It is notable that people with removable partial dentures had the lowest quality of life, significantly below the other options and below the national average. We already knew implants are better than dentures, but this study makes it clear how significant the difference is.
Considering Implant Costs
This study didn’t look just at the quality of life impact of these tooth replacement options. It also looked at the relative cost, factored over 30 years of the expected lifetime for dental implants.
They found that FDPs (dental bridges) were cheaper than implants by about €1423 ($2300).
Of course, compensation rates vary widely depending on insurance in this country (let alone the costs in Japan), but even if this figure is accurate, it works out to just $77 a year difference between a dental bridge and dental implants. Implants can seem like an even better bargain when you consider the benefits of dental implants over bridges, such as maintaining the integrity of neighboring teeth, stimulating gums and jaws, and potentially lasting a lifetime.
This last point deserves some more attention. Thirty years is a reasonable estimate for the lifetime of implants, but the truth is we don’t know how long they last. One recent study showed 100% of implants still in place 30 years after placement, and we have individual cases of implants lasting more than 50 years!
Are You Looking for Implants in Rochester, MI?
This study shows that there are true, tangible quality of life benefits for dental implants, even over a dental bridge, which in many ways is a fully functional tooth replacement. With the low cost difference between the two procedures, dental implants really do represent a quality choice for tooth replacement. They’re so good, they’re even worth a second try.