How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?
There are more than 3 million people in the United States who have dental implants and 500,000 more who get them each year according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. Tooth implants are quickly becoming the recommended standard of care for treating tooth loss; however, there is a lot of misinformation about how much dental implants cost and what prices you can expect to pay for the procedure. To help clear up the confusion, here’s what you need to know about teeth implants and dental implant pricing.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are one of the most significant advances in dentistry in decades. When a person has a tooth that’s beyond repair or has lost teeth due to decay or an accident, a dental implant may be recommended by a dental care provider. A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that looks like a screw, typically made of titanium, which is surgically placed in the mouth. The implant then fuses with the bone through a process called osseointegration to create a solid foundation upon which an artificial ceramic crown can be placed. Dental implants have become the preferred treatment for tooth loss.
Most tooth loss can best be treated with dental implants. There are, however, some issues that make an individual ill-suited for implants. You must have healthy bones and sufficient bone height to support an implant. It’s best to get a dental implant shortly after the tooth loss because bone loss can occur the longer you wait to get treatment for a lost tooth. Patients who are suffering from other health concerns such as leukemia or diabetes may not be good candidates for a dental implant. Your dentist will be able to go over the options that are best for you.
Why are dental implants so popular?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69 percent of adults aged 35 to 44 years old have lost at least one permanent tooth and 26 percent of adults 65 to 74 have lost all of their teeth. A person who has missing teeth may not only feel self-conscious when smiling, but they may also experience difficulties talking and eating, or suffer from bone loss, infections and other oral health problems. Dental implants address both the cosmetic and functional concerns caused by missing teeth in ways that traditional dentures and bridges cannot.
Advantages of dental implants include:
- Last a lifetime whereas a bridge and crown will only last between 5 and 7 years.
- Are as stable, secure and comfortable as your original teeth.
- Won’t damage the surrounding teeth and will prevent shifting of nearby teeth.
- Are cared for the same as you would your natural teeth-brushing and flossing daily.
- Look more natural than dentures or bridges with no visible hardware.
While the process of getting a dental implant placed is more involved than being fitted for dentures or a bridge, superior comfort, appearance and longevity are what make dental implants the preferred choice for many dentists and patients. Patients who’ve tried other methods of tooth replacement claim that dental implants improve quality of life in a dramatic way.
Dental implants are a multi-step procedure
Dental implants are a multi-step procedure and the exact steps can vary with each patient. That’s one of the reasons that advertised price offers like “$999 Dental Implants” are often very misleading.
- Tooth Extraction – In cases where the dental implant is necessary because an existing tooth is fractured or otherwise dying, the tooth will need to be extracted before the implant procedure can begin. This step is not required when placing an implant for a tooth that has already been lost.
- Bone Grafting – Your personal treatment plan will be determined based on your overall oral health, how long it’s been since you lost the teeth or tooth that needs to be replaced, if you’re a smoker, the condition of your jawbone and gums, and more. Some patients who don’t have a thick enough jawbone will require bone grafting to enhance the bone for prior to the dental implant procedure.
- Placing the Dental Implant – In this step, the titanium implant is surgically placed into the bone. This is typically done in your dentist’s office using local anesthesia. Depending on the extent of the tooth loss, the dentist may need to place one or more implants.
- Temporary Crown or Denture – There is typically a healing period from two to six months to allow the jawbone to fuse with the titanium implant. Some patients elect to have a temporary crown or denture placed during this period for cosmetic reasons or to facilitate eating and speaking.
- Abutment – Once your jawbone is healed, it’s time to place the abutment-the piece that connects the implant and the crown. Your dental provider will need to reopen your gums to expose the dental implant and attach the abutment to it.
- Placing the Permanent Crown – It takes about two weeks for your gums to heal after getting the abutment before your artificial tooth can be attached. In the meantime, impressions are taken of your mouth and remaining teeth. Your new crown will be fabricated to resemble the color and shape of your natural teeth.
How much do dental implants cost?
Pricing for dental implants is complicated since the specific procedure can vary dramatically based on each patient’s needs. Some may need a tooth extracted or a temporary crown while other patients’ situations may allow them to skip these steps. So, there are a variety of factors that must be considered to determine how much it will cost to get dental implants and no two circumstances are alike. As the procedure becomes more mainstream, patients are increasingly searching for the most affordable solution. We encourage consumerism when it comes to making smart healthcare decisions, but advise patients to exercise caution when price shopping for dental implants because the variability in patient needs.
Our advice to price shoppers:
- Be leery of low priced offers as these usually cover only the implant placement and not other essential components.
- When comparing rates, make sure you understand exactly what is included. At a minimum, price quotes should include the implant, abutment and crown.
- If you have dental benefits, be sure to understand which components of the procedure are covered in order to assess your out of pocket costs.
As a guideline, the cost of an implant, abutment and crown is typically in the $3,000-5,000 range. Your costs will vary based on the unique circumstances of your case.
Lifetime Value of Dental Implants vs. Bridges/Crowns
While the upfront cost of a dental implant tends to be higher than comparable treatment with a bridge and crown, the lifetime cost of the implant is often lower. A typical bridge and crown solution will last between 5 and 7 years. Regardless of how well you take care of bridges/crowns, you will need to get them replaced, often several times, throughout your lifetime depending on your age at the time of placement. Many patients struggle to properly floss bridges so the root surfaces around bridgework are highly susceptible to decay. This will mean additional procedures and additional costs. Bridge and crown procedures require grinding down your healthy teeth on either side of the bridge to anchor it, so this could also mean future work on those formerly healthy teeth. Dental implants not only preserve the jawbone, but they also won’t decay and are as easy to care for as your natural teeth. For these reasons, dental implants are the best lifetime investment and solution for tooth loss.
Options to cover dental implants cost with insurance
Unfortunately, many dental plans do not cover dental implants and most are capped at the amount of coverage allowed each year. At the time your treatment plan is discussed, ask for an estimate of out-of-pocket costs and payment options available to help guide your treatment decision. Keep in mind that while dental implants may be a more expensive investment up front, it’s a solution that lasts a lifetime. Ultimately, it can cost less than the cheaper bridge procedure that will only last several years and then need to be replaced. Our offices have several options to help minimize the overall cost of your implant and your monthly payment. Even if you have dental insurance, our OneSmile Dental Plan will save you 20 to 40 percent off uncovered services. In addition, we have multiple, low-interest dental financing plans with flexible terms as well as dental coupons for select locations to help make sure all patients can afford the care they need.
Dental implants are the new standard of care for tooth loss. They look and act just like your natural teeth, so they are easier to care for and more comfortable than other treatments. Even though you will pay more initially, the lifetime value of implants will likely be better than the alternatives. When researching the price of dental implant treatment, don’t be fooled by deceptive offers that only cover a portion of the care. Visit one of our offices for a free dental implant consultation and to discuss your best options for tooth replacement.
At Bright Now! Dental, we’re here to help. Contact us to schedule your free dental implant consultation.