A Special Case
Of course, we have to acknowledge that this is a special case. Dr. Hodge’s patient, for whom he wrote an appeal to her insurance company, had a long history of digestive issues. These digestive issues were secondary to the woman’s gastric bypass surgery, which had resulted in severe weight loss and even an inability to maintain a healthy weight.
As with many people who have digestive problems, this patient’s teeth were in very bad shape. Although she technically had 18 teeth remaining, only three of them were still emergent from her gums. Because her doctors realized she needed a healthy bite to be able to eat healthy, they referred her for reconstructive dentistry.
Implant Dentures Can Protect Against Digestive Problems
Because of her tooth problems, the woman often suffered from malnutrition. When her weight dropped to critical levels, she had to be sent to a nursing facility and be given intravenous feedings, technically known as total parenteral nutrition (TPN). The cost of this procedure was about $14,500.
Poorly chewed food could lead to a food impaction event, a high risk for this patient without implant dentures. This would cost about $3000 to treat with an emergency room visit, possible endoscopy, sedation, and other costs.
Because of the patient’s weakened condition due to malnutrition, she would be a very high risk candidate for hospitalization, and the overall cost for hospitalization in the US is about $10,500.
Based on the frequency of these events experienced by patient, Dr. Hodges estimated the cost over 10 years would be:
- TPN feeding (two months): $29,000
- Two hospital stays: $21,000
- One food impaction: $3,000
In addition, this patient regularly took opiate pain medication due to digestive and other pains. Although she wouldn’t be able to completely eliminate her dependence on this type of medication, Dr. Hodges estimated she might be able to reduce the cost of it by up to $100 a month. All together, the potential cost savings was estimated at $65,000.
Since the nationwide average cost for implant-supported dentures is $25,000-30,000 per arch, the potential savings would be at least $5,000 in the first ten years, and potentially $150,000 over the lifetime of the implant dentures.
What about Your Savings?
Since few people are in this kind of extreme condition, you might think that you won’t experience savings related to your implant dentures. Although you may not experience hundreds of thousands of dollars of savings, you will likely still experience medical benefits from implant dentures, including:
- Better nutrition–being able to chew better will help you eat a better variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables
- Better breathing–with removable dentures, you have to choose between keeping your dentures in, which may increase your risk of pneumonia, and taking your dentures out, which allows your airway to collapse, leading to sleep apnea. Incidentally, untreated sleep apnea alone can double your annual medical costs.
- Better activity–having supportive dentures can help stabilize your core, helping you maintain a more active lifestyle.
- Longer life–a recent study showed that stronger biting force was correlated with a lower risk of death
With these and the improved appearance, comfort, and joy of having implant dentures that are like your natural teeth, implant dentures are a great investment.
If you would like to learn more about the potential benefit of implant dentures in Westchester county, please call (914) 526-2144 today for an appointment with an implant dentist at Advanced Dentistry of Mohegan Lake.