Q: I visited a doctor’s office who advertised discount dental implants. The fees at the office were about three times what they advertised when I got there! They tried to explain it had something to do with the abutment and crown choice. What is going on?
Comparing Custom vs. Stock Implant Abutments
A: When I was a kid in the 70’s, my Dad’s furniture store went out of business after the big chains like Levitz and Siemen’s furniture came to town. My family was hurting financially. My older sisters when they were my age at the time got Schwinn bicycles. When it was my turn, my parental units, God bless them, bought me a “knock-off” copy of a Schwinn called a “Schvinn”. The bike weighed as much as a car and rusted after I left it outside just for one night at Richie Kravitz’s house in Bellmore, Long Island.
Sometimes brands matter. There are some offices out there that are using cloned implants to save money. These copies do not have the researched track record as the real deal, such as Zimmer Biomet implants, made in the good old US of A. They can fail, fracture and cause you grief and cash loss. I am always weary of dental companies that answer the phone: “Chekov’s implants. All day speeeecial today, vat can I do foy you?”
Also, don’t try to save money by going for a stock abutment vs. a custom abutment. The abutment is the post that protrudes out of the gum, connecting the implant (imbedded in the bone) to the crown, bridge or denture; ie the tooth or teeth.
A stock abutment is custom casted into a shape that mimics the triangular, oval or square base of a tooth. This results in a replacement tooth that looks, feels and fits more like a real tooth.
The stock abutments are “one- size- fits-all”, shaped like a cylindrical peg. This makes the crown fit the abutment like a lollipop; a big circle over a skinny stick, often resulting in a major food trap due to big gaps between the gum and the porcelain crown. Food entrapment can lead to peri-implantitis; an infection that can make the implant loosen and fail.
When going to an office due to price; check the fine print with me first so I can make sure you are not riding a Schvinn!
Dr. Mitchell Josephs practices Implant, Cosmetic and General Dentistry with an emphasis on implants, porcelain veneers, and complex crown and bridge treatment. He is on staff at JFK Medical Center and is a Faculty Advisory Board member at McGill University’s Faculty of Dentistry. He completed his residency at Manhattan’s Beth Israel Medical Center and Mt. Sinai Hospital.