The Cost of Dental Implants
Dental implants are not new. In fact, for over a half a century they have been an excellent alternative to bridges and dentures. And like all techniques and associated technologies, with advancements over time, they have even become the standard-of-care for patients missing one or more teeth.
LONGEVITY & JAW BONE HEALTH
With the plethora of advertisements about dental implants on TV and radio, it can be difficult for patients to begin the investigative process. Countless articles on the Internet delve into what implants are, how they are placed and how the teeth are restored. But determining whether you are a candidate, what your specific needs are and how to understand a treatment estimate and the dollar investment in one’s health cannot be obtained from an online article. There are certain things in life, healthcare being one, where trying to seek an ‘apples to apples’ comparison is not always the correct approach. After all, one must add in the component of selecting the right oral healthcare provider to meet your unique needs. But, you do need to know the cost of your care. So, here are some general guidelines to keep in mind.
Like a natural tooth, or teeth, that did not last a lifetime, dental implants cannot be guaranteed to last forever. However, when beginning a comparison of dental implants to other tooth replacement methods, such as dentures and bridges, longevity does come into play. In most cases dental implants are a longer lasting solution and are comparable in cost to a bridge, which requires a fee to restore at least three teeth – the two adjacent teeth – for supporting crowns and the missing tooth. A dental implant simply involves one restoration and leaves your healthy adjacent teeth undisturbed (no filing them down to fabricate a crown). And there is a greater possibility that recurrent decay, requiring more maintenance, repair or replacement, occurs with bridges. This too, can translate into bridges being more expensive over time than a dental implant.
And, patients with dentures find that over a five to ten year period of time they no longer experience the comfort or function they had initially. The jawbone structure shrinks (once teeth are missing). As this continues the patient often develops a “sunken look”. Bone atrophy eliminates our ability to help enhance comfort with a denture adjustment or reline. The denture ultimately slips while speaking or eating; denture adhesive cream becomes a disappointing solution. There are significant associated costs involved with maintaining and servicing a denture over the years. Of course, the most costly is the replacement of the initial denture.
However, dental implants, made of titanium, are implanted into the jaw, integrating with the bone and stimulating bone growth and health. This preserves the natural strength of the bone, eliminating progressive bone atrophy and lessening problems and additional costs down the road. Dental implants are seen as the closest dentistry can come to the replacement of a natural tooth. The Zirconia crown(s), used to restore the dental implant, appear and function as close to natural teeth as possible. These are a few of the positive health benefits attained with replacing missing teeth with dental implants.
QUALITY OF LIFE
There is another important consideration – one that is difficult to assign a dollar value to is how dental implants can enhance the quality of one’s life – which is priceless. Our patients report a significant improvement in their emotional well-being and self-esteem when they are able to chew their favorite foods in comfort and smile with confidence.
COMPARING DENTAL IMPLANT QUOTES
Unlike buying AA Eveready batteries for your TV remote, evaluating the costs of dental implant care from one provider to another is challenging; an ‘apples to apples’ comparison cannot be easily made; there are intangibles and variations. However, there are several services common to the development of a treatment estimate. They begin with a determination as to whether a patient is a candidate for dental implants, to preparing for implant placement, to the surgical procedure and through the final phases that include the restoration of the dental implants. As every patient’s situation is unique and each healthcare provider’s training, experience, expertise and their fees for services vary, it is not uncommon to see significant differences in costs. However, typically included are estimates for:
- X-rays – pre and post operative
- CBCT Scan
- Diagnostic imaging
- Bone grafting / Healing membrane(s) / Sinus lift(s)
- Dental implant placement or multiple implants
- Custom Abutment(s)
- Dental implant crowns / implant supported bridges / implant supported dentures
- Post-operative evaluations
The caveat is that each treatment plan is based on the dentist’s determination of the patient’s needs. So, when attempting to compare costs, a phone call to ask for a ‘price on the phone’ cannot provide you with the information necessary to make a an informed decision. As a consumer, when making the most important decisions – those related to one’s health – it is incumbent upon you to evaluate the dentist’s training and qualifications, schedule a consultation with the dentist to discuss their recommendations, associated fees and a breakdown of the dentist’s plan of care. Ultimately, there will also be a value, though not with an associated dollar amount that can be put on paper, on the trust and confidence inspired by the dentist when exploring your options.
FINANCING FOR DENTAL IMPLANTS
Many dental insurance carriers have allowable benefits that pay a portion towards care associated with dental implant treatment needs. Be it coverage for extractions or the placement of the implants and the restorations, each dental plan differs in what is considered an eligible procedure and the associate benefits. On your behalf, a predetermination of benefits can be submitted to your carrier once a plan of care is formulated.
Healthcare credit companies
Companies, such as Care Credit, offer no-interest and low-interest loans for medical procedures including dental implants. Patients can request assistance from our office as to which plans we work with and the application process.
SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION
Dr. David G. Hochberg has been providing his patients, as well as the patients of referring dentists, dental implant treatment options for over 35 years. He is trained in both the surgical and restorative phases of dental implants and served as a past president of the American Academy Implant Dentistry. To learn more about his qualifications, and to schedule a consultation to evaluate your specific needs and the fees associated with this investment in your oral health, call us at 404-874-6464.