Larry Conners Talks Mini Dental Implants with Troy Family Dental
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Larry Conners: Welcome back. I want to introduce you to Dr. Richard Boatman of Troy Family Dental in Troy, Illinois. Dr. Boatman, glad to have you with us, sir.
Richard Boatman: It’s great to be here, Larry.
Larry Conners: I want to point out to the audience in full disclosure, we have a financial business arrangement, and I’m looking forward. And I’ve been excited about your services since I visited and your staff in general. But here’s what I really want to pick up on, information wise, for the audience. I know many folks listening have some dental problems. I’m not just talking about maybe needing cavities filled and things of this nature, but more severe that they have gaps in their teeth, they have missing teeth, and they might need dentures, they might need implants of some type. But what I found with your process when I was visiting you — I was most impressed with mini dental implants, mini as in small. Can you briefly describe what a mini dental implant is, sir?
Richard Boatman: Absolutely. I actually refer to them as the amazing mini dental implants. A mini implant is a dental implant, which is as it says is much smaller than a traditional implant. And because it’s much smaller, it has so many great benefits and advantages over the traditional implants.
Larry Conners: Well, let’s begin with the cost, because that’s a factor that affects a lot of folks on their health right now, especially if they’re afraid if their insurance is going to cover something or not.
Richard Boatman: Absolutely. Actually, insurance companies cover more implants today than they did years ago, but the cost is really significantly less with mini dental implants. A traditional implant to replace a single tooth typically costs somewhere between $5000 and $6000. You can do the exact same thing with a mini dental implant for about half the cost, for about $2600 with virtually no surgery, and it takes minutes to place the implant.
Larry Conners: Yeah, that was the other thing I want to get into, the ease of planting it. I mean you think you go in the dentist and be in the chair especially for the implant. You’re going to be there one, two, or three different times. You got to keep going back, and it’s going to be excruciating, and difficult, and long, and drawn out. That’s not true on the mini implants.
Richard Boatman: No, absolutely not. To place one or two mini dental implants, literally, and I’m not kidding, Larry, takes about a minute or two to replace a single tooth. There are a lot of patients who use a lot of mini implants actually for denture wares, for patients who have false teeth. And over 30 years, I’ve never met a patient who likes to wear dental glue and especially their lower denture — it’s just a little horseshoe down there. Their tongue sits in the middle, and the plate moves all over the place, and they have a hard time biting things. And what we’ll do in that situation is we’ll place four mini dental implants, and it literally takes me somewhere between five and ten minutes to place them. Then the patient can snap their denture into place, no more denture glue. They can bite much better. And the cost is amazing. To do four traditional implants for a lower denture was around $12,000. To do it with four mini dental implants is only about $3800, so the cost benefit is absolutely phenomenal for the patient.
Larry Conners: And you’re talking about improving quality of life in the process.
Richard Boatman: Oh, that is absolutely amazing, too, Larry, not just their quality of life just being able to eat food, but just their appearance and their self-esteem is absolutely incredible. You see patients come in and will take before-and-after pictures, so when their work is finished and just they have — their eyes are brighter. They’re more happy. It really enhances the quality of their life.
Larry Conners: You know I’ve been blessed though for — have not had to have dentures, but I’ve had relatives who have, and it just seems to be excruciating for them, self-awareness that you can’t even begin to describe, with all due respect, sometimes, an odor that they can’t control. In other words, it’s just difficult living with implants, I should say, dentures that are costly shifting and moving as you said.
Richard Boatman: Yeah, it really does. And another problem that most people aren’t aware of is that when their teeth are missing, whether it’s a single tooth or all of their teeth, where those teeth are missing, that bone is melting away year by year. And for a lot of patients who finally decide that they want implants and they look to traditional implants, they’re faced with having expensive and painful bone grafting procedures that a lot of times we can avoid with mini dental implants also. So there’s another great benefit — less surgery and less recovery time for the patient. But patients aren’t aware that that bone will melt away very, very slowly over time. And as it does, their plates don’t fit as well. They can’t bite and chew as well. I had a gentlemen about four months ago that absolutely loved to eat steak, and he was so frustrated he couldn’t do it. What we did for him was we placed mini dental implants for his lower teeth, and we actually placed six instead of four. It took me 15 minutes to place these implants. They only need to heal for about one month instead of four months instead of traditional implants. We actually cemented in a fixed bridge onto these mini implants also. He called, and he enjoyed his first steak in about six years.
Larry Conners: That’s great.
Richard Boatman: He was incredibly happy about it. But that’s the other thing, too. There are patients that — they’d like to have their natural smile back. They don’t want to take place ins and outs, and that’s another application for the mini dental implants is you can actually cement porcelain bridges onto the mini implants. And now it’s as if the patients have their own natural teeth again; nothing comes out.
Larry Conners: You’re listening to Dr. Richard Boatman. He is the founder of Troy Family Dental in Troy, Illinois. He’d been named to Saint Louis Magazine’s list of the top dentists. His colleague is Dr. Jordan Spencer at Troy Family Dental. Now, mini dental implants, is this relatively new? Or it’s just being more accepted and to be properly trained in doing and placing them?
Richard Boatman: Well, actually, Larry, no. They’ve been around for many, many years. They actually were some of the first implants that were placed, and they were used actually as temporary implants to see if people could get used to having them. And then when patients would tolerate them, then they were typically removed, sometimes surgically, sometimes — because they couldn’t get them out, they would actually cut them off at the level of the bone in place of their implants.
Larry Conners: That sounds like a horrendous process.
Richard Boatman: It was. It really, really was. But what was really a game changer is there was an oral surgeon in Buffalo, New York. He’s name was Dr. Samuel Shatkin. And his son, Todd Shatkin, who is a dentist, they kind of looked into this. This has probably been about 15, 20 years ago. And they thought, well there were some patients that could not afford to have the traditional implants done, so they looked at placing the minis. And they actually went through a number of years kind of documenting what their successes were. And they noticed that patients with their dentures could snap their dentures in place. There was minimal if any surgery at all. The patients enjoyed a much better quality of life. Then they decided to up the game a little bit. They thought, “Well, if it’s working as well with dentures, why don’t we try replacing single teeth? And why don’t we try replacing two or three teeth at a time?” And they found that that was very, very successful. So then they upped their game even more, and they decided, “Well, let’s see if we can put six mini dental implants in for a patient that has no teeth, and cement a fixed bridge in place.” And they have found that that was incredibly successful also. So truly, Dr. Samuel Shatkin, who has now passed away and his son, Dr. Todd Shatkin, of Buffalo, New York that have really, really brought mini dental implants to the forefront.
Larry Conners: The thing about it, too, though is that by mini it’s about half the diameter of the standard implant. So you had to put more in, but you’re doing it in a more controlled fashion, less pain even though you’re talking about additional pieces.
Richard Boatman: Well, absolutely. With the mini dental implant, the osteotomy side, and the osteotomy side is the small hole that you drill into the jawbone, is about one-tenth the size of a traditional implant, so it’s minimally invasive. Traditional implants typically have two different components. They have the implant itself, and then they have what’s called abutment that screws down into the implant. And I place quite a few of those before I started doing mini implants, and there was a handful of those where the screw would break or would come loose. And you would actually have to replace it. In a couple of times, we actually had to actually surgically remove the implant and place some new ones. With the mini implant, there are no parts; it’s just one solid core piece of titanium, which is incredibly strong, so it eliminates those other problems where you have screws that can break or screws that come loose.
Larry Conners: No invasive surgery, no bone grafting.
Richard Boatman: Very, very, very little, Larry. In the five years that I’ve been placing minis, I can count on one hand how many patients I had to tell that, “You don’t have enough bone even for mini dental implants.”
Larry Conners: Now, that was my next question. Could everyone be a candidate or not?
Richard Boatman: The vast majority of people are. About 99 percent of patients are, but there are a few people that I have encountered where they actually had their teeth missing for 40 plus years. And when you take the CAT scan to see how much bone that they have — you need a minimum of 10 millimeters of bone. And a few patients had six or seven millimeters of bone, and it doesn’t seem like three millimeters of bone would make that much of a difference, but it really, really does.
Larry Conners: Well, they wouldn’t know unless they got fully examined though, would they? I mean unless they went to someone like you who knows what they’re doing with mini dental implants, they wouldn’t know if they’re capable of by accepting a mini. Correct?
Richard Boatman: Well, that’s correct. You’d actually have to go to a dentist or a surgeon who has cone beam technology in their office. Cone beam technology is a dental CAT scan where we can actually take a CAT scan of the patient’s jaw complex. We can view it in three dimensions. We can locate exactly where sinuses are or major nerves are, and we can tell exactly how much bone the patient has to 100th of a millimeter.
Larry Conners: Again, you’re listening to Dr. Richard Boatman of Troy Family Dental in Troy, Illinois. What about pain? I mean anyone going to the dentist just abhors the idea of the pain that might be coming with it, and especially if you’re talking about a dental implant, mini or not, it sounds like it could involve pain.
Richard Boatman: Well, any time you do this type of a procedure, you’re going to have some discomfort post operatively. Whether you’re doing mini implants or traditional implants, it’s very easy to get good anesthesia for the patient while you’re doing the procedure. They typically shouldn’t feel anything uncomfortable during the procedure at all. It’s the post-operative discomfort that comes into play. When I was doing traditional implants, I would tell the patient, “You know you’re going to be sore for at least a week.” They’re going to probably need narcotics like Vicodin for anywhere from two to three days to as long as a week depending on their pain tolerance. With mini implants, patients are typically sore only for one day.
Larry Conners: Wow!
Richard Boatman: Yeah, I always give them some Vicodin for one day, and it’s very, very seldom that I have a patient come back and tell me that they were sore for two or three days. But the vast majority are only sore for one day.
Larry Conners: That sentence says some concern about pain. I know Troy Family Dental also practices sedation dentistry in general. What is that exactly?
Richard Boatman: Well, Larry, unfortunately, because of dental experiences in this country, and dentistry has come a long, long way in the last 30 to 40 years. It’s been reported that there are a 150 million people in this country that have some fear of the dentist and that there are actually about 40 million people who are phobic to the point where it’s hard for them to even pick up the phone and make a phone call. For those patients, their oral health gets neglected, and we all develop tartar buildup as time goes by. And tartar buildup is calcified bacteria. As that bacteria builds up on our teeth, there really aren’t any symptoms at first, but that bacteria will get into our blood stream through our gum tissue. And it’s been found through studies that there are links to increased heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, even low birth weight in babies for these patients. And a lot of times, they suffer debilitating pain for so long, because they just cannot go, so sedation in the dental office is an absolute imperative for those patients so that they can get the treatment that they need.
Larry Conners: I was not totally surprised when you discussed it with me previously when I visited your office recently. The fact that you could have — poor dental health can end up affecting your health in general might be something what from a fever to make you more susceptible to viruses or things of this nature.
Richard Boatman: Well, absolutely. There was a study done by the New England Journal of Medicine a number of years ago that showed that people who see their dentists regularly live an average of seven years longer than people who do not see a dentist regularly.
Larry Conners: Wow.
Richard Boatman: So there are tremendous ties to our overall health with our dental health.
Larry Conners: You’ve been practicing for how long, sir?
Richard Boatman: Almost 30 years now.
Larry Conners: Wow. I’m sure one of your best and things that make you feel really good at the end of the day is that you help people have a new life and a new quality of life.
Richard Boatman: Oh, yeah. It’s not only that, Larry, but you develop relationships with these people that you spend time with. And I could sit and write a book. I have so many people that I consider friends now that come to me. I actually have people that will actually come to me from South Carolina, form Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve a patient who flies in every six months from Vancouver, British Colombia and all over. And there are people that have moved away, but we’ve developed such a relationship with them that they feel like they’re family.
Larry Conners: I was going to say, you’re probably seeing second generation, aren’t you?
Richard Boatman: Oh, Larry, this is literally true. I have patients now that drive their own cars here. I remember when they were in their moms’ tummies, and that’s how long I’ve been doing it, but it’s a lot of fun.
Larry Conners: One other thing — since we’re talking about children, getting a child into a dental chair, is that difficult sometimes? Is it sometimes the fault of the parent being bolstered by the child?
Richard Boatman: You know it’s so different now for kids, because dentistry has come along so, so far that actually kids enjoy going to the dentist these days. But what I tell parents is is that when children come in for their first time, and typically boys are about age three and a half, girls are about age three, and every child is different. Some of them will hop up in your chair, and they’ll let you take a look, and do some x-rays, and do their cleaning. And other children will sit there and just put their hand over their mouth and not let you in. And I tell the parents and that’s okay also. What we do with those children is we just have fun with them. They get to know the setting. We give them some prizes before they go.
Larry Conners: Not candy.
Richard Boatman: Yeah, no candy, but you develop that trust with them. And then they develop that trust with you. And children actually —
Larry Conners: They come back another day, right?
Richard Boatman: They do. They absolutely do. Right.
Larry Conners: Doctor, thank you very much for taking your time. The mini dental implants, I found fascinating. I know many in the audience might find that it’s worth them inquiring and checking it out and especially when you look at the cost from 6000, 12000 down to 3000 or less. That’s a major thing for a change in your life. It would make your quality of life better.
Richard Boatman: It really does, and I would encourage anybody to Google it on your phones or your computers. There are lots of information out there that’s available. And it’s really been a tremendous benefit for people.
Larry Conners: Thank you, sir. Dr. Richard Boatman, founder of Troy Family Dental in Troy, Illinois. Thank you.