Hi, Sammi . . . I asgree with the other posters who already have discussed the risk of having the opposing tooth over erupt, so won't go there.
But I will comment on some of the other questions you asked:
1)-I have no dental insurance (but I'm under the impression that most insurance companies do not cover implants anyway - is that correct??), . . .
Answer: Not quite. Some insurance companies are now starting to cover them, but they still are not available in all service areas. Also, I noticed on my last policy update that my provider only offers one implant every 5 or 6 years. IOW, don't assume you can't have it covered by insurance.
2. Is this logical (that amount of time [i.e., count on wearing a flipper])? Honestly, I have no idea how long it might take me to save the ~$1k a crown would cost, maybe up to a year. . . . I am worried about potentially having to drink protein shakes for 5 weeks straight...or something.
Answer: While flippers resally are designed for temporary use, when I was in high school, I had a friend who entertained us daily for several tears, by literally flipping the flipper on her front tooth for us at lunchtime.
Years later, while preparing to get my implant, I grilled each of the three dentists I consulted for info about flippers. While all three said they were designed for temporary use, they also agreed that there was no time limit for their use. In fact one told me his own sister had found hers so comfortable, she was still wearing after 3 or 4 years.
3. And my most important question: to those of you who have implants, what is something you WISH you had known before starting the process?
Answer: While I felt bad about losing my front tooth, there was something I DID know about befiorehand, which made the the experience a lot easier.
While I had never dreamed the information would apply to me, many years earlier, I had worked on a project for a competitor of the dentist who had pioneered implants in our county. At that time, the entire procedure took 1-24 months (or longer) to complete, and frankly, sounded a little gruesome to me.
But the day I learned that tooth was going to need extraction, my eyes just happened to fall on a newspaper ad offering a free consultation by the "pioneering" dentist for a new type of implant: an immediate-loading one.
Because it was so new, some dentists were still sitting on the fence either evaluating it or simply unwilling to learn a new procedure. But because I was familiar with the the dentist's credentials and experience (especially regarding implants), I had confidence in his skills, and after my initial consultation, felt 100% comfortable about our ability to communicate ( a feature as important to me as cost in making such a momentous decision.
4. Also, while I did have barely enough $$$ in the bank to pay for the project (which included cosmetic work on the 3 adjacent teeth) I took him up on the opportunity to borrow the funds from Care Credit (which paid him in full immediately), but offered the money to me at a low interest rate (zero percent) if I repaid it in full within 12 months.
The advantage to me of using Care Credit was that I was able to retain the security of knowing that in an emergency, I still could access my $$$, which I had placed in an interest earning 1-year CD — with no risk of a penalty.
Luckily, I was able to repay the loan on time, and in so doing, the interest earned actually reduced the cost of my dental work.
The availability of that type of financing was something else I was unaware of before I needed an implant. I believe Care Credit still offers the same interest-free loan (for medical/dental expenses) today. However, if interested, there are 2 things worth noting: (a) Current interest rates on CDs are much lower today, so I wouldn't count on earned interest to reduce the total coast of my project these days . . .and (2) I almost got caught with a hefty late payment fee at the end of my term, which ended on the anniversary of my loan; not the regular monthly due date. IOW, before signing any loan agreement, be sure to read all the terms carefully — even the small print!
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