The health of our teeth and gums is inextricably linked to the overall health of our bodies. Not only do our teeth begin the process of digestion, but healthy gums have a direct effect on blood sugar levels, and can even have a cardiovascular impact. Functional teeth contribute to our physical well-being, and dental implants and dentures, if professionally installed, can help restore that functionality.
However, it may be getting harder to tell the professionals from the charlatans. A Tennessee man and his wife have been charged with operating an unlicensed dental office. Michael Harold Richardson was charged last year for performing dentistry without a license, and his wife, Lana Ruth Richardson, was charged with assisting him.
The lack of licensure was exposed after patients complained of poorly fitting and poorly constructed dentures they received from the Richardsons’ clinic inside a Coffee County stripmall. An investigation resulted in the couple’s arrest in March and April of 2013.
The couple was arrested for similar operations in Maury County, and wanted for questioning in similar charges in Glasgow, Kentucky. Investigators and victims say the couple preyed upon fixed-income patients who needed dentures.
While this is not a common occurrence across the country, it does highlight a major difference between old-fashioned dentures and their more modern counterparts, dental implants — namely, that dental implants require extensive education and board certification to install.
The cost is significantly greater, to be sure. An all-on-four procedure for an entire upper or lower set of teeth can easily run between $20,000 and $25,000. But when compared to the cost of having to redo shoddy dentures, the physical discomfort suffered in the interim, and possible medical complications (oral infections, dietary limitations, etc.), the cost of implants seems less exorbitant.
And dental implants are most often a one-time cost. If installed by a trained professional and properly cared for by the patient, they can last a lifetime. In fact, modern implants boast a 98% success rate.