What are Dental Implants?
When a tooth is extracted or missing, you'll need to replace it for function, cosmetics, and comfort.
Dental implants are biocompatible screws that are anchored into the jawbone. They are attached to abutment posts and a natural-looking crown.
The result of a dental implant is the most natural and comfortable replacement for an actual tooth.
An implant also provides a strong foundation for fixed and removable prosthetics. An implant screw must be made from a biocompatible material for high success rates, or the bone could reject it and osseointegration will fail.
Most implants are made from titanium because it is corrosion-resistant, stable, and lightweight.
What Happens During a Dental Implant Procedure?
In general, a dental implant procedure consists of the following steps:
- Initial consultation — during your first visit, the dentist will perform a comprehensive exam to determine if you are a good candidate. They will also let you know if you need any other surgical procedures like a bone graft or sinus augmentation.
- Implant placement — after you're approved for treatment, you'll return for another appointment. The surgical process will include your dentist administering local anesthesia, so you are numb and comfortable. Some patients choose to use nitrous oxide or general anesthesia if they have dental anxiety. After the extraction (if necessary), the dentist will gently insert the titanium implant screw into your jawbone and suture it up so your gums can heal. The implant screw will serve as the tooth root for your new artificial crown. The actual surgical procedure takes about one hour.
- Healing — the implant will take several months to heal. During this time, the restoration fuses into your jawbone.
- Crown placement — Once healed, your dentist will create an impression for the custom dental crown. Then they will place the crown on top of the implant to give you a new, long-lasting smile.
- Follow-up appointment — you will follow up with your dentist a few days after the procedure to ensure you’re healing properly and there is no infection.
How Much Do Dental Implants Cost (By Type)?
There are a few different types of dental implants available. The type you need depends on how many teeth are missing, your bone condition, your dentist's location, and the overall cost.
Single Tooth Implant Cost
A single dental implant is ideal when one tooth is missing and you want to replace it for esthetics, comfort, and function. Single implants require one dental crown that connects to the implant screw.
Treatment can span up to 6 months (depending on your medical and dental history). It also depends on if you need any bone grafting for additional support. A patient should have healthy gums and strong bones to support and sustain a dental implant.
The average cost of a single tooth implant can range from $3,000 to $4,000. Remember, there may be additional costs for bone grafts, the dental abutment, and the dental crown. This can cost up to $2,000.
Implant-Supported Bridge Cost
Implant-supported bridges are ideal for people with several missing teeth. The implant acts as an anchor for the bridge (instead of a natural tooth).
A fixed dental bridge restores function by preventing other teeth from moving. It also improves eating and speaking functions.
An implant-supported bridge can be costly. The total cost depends on the size of the dental bridge and the number of implants needed.
Typically, an implant-supported bridge can cost $5,000 to $16,000 for more complicated and longer bridges.
Implant-Retained Denture Cost
Missing teeth require some type of restorative replacement. A dental implant provides greater stability, security, and comfort than many other options.
For those who fear an appliance from slipping, you may be a candidate for an implant-supported partial or full denture. This will ensure greater stability and more comfort while eating and speaking.
An implant-retained denture can help replace missing teeth. It also helps support the jaw bone and maintain a youthful appearance.
For many people, it is more comfortable and stable for the denture to rest on the implants. This reduces gum pressure.
If you are planning to get an implant-retained denture, it can cost anywhere from $12,000 to $30,000. The cost depends on the quality of the denture, the number and type of implants, and the dentist’s location.
3-on-6 Dental Implants Cost
An alternative to an implant-retained denture is a 3-on-6 implant. It consists of three individual dental bridges attached to six dental implants.
Since there are little to no acrylic “gums,” the 3-on-6 gives a natural appearance. This type of implant functions well because it distributes biting forces equally.
3-on-6 implants can range from $10,000 to $15,000 per arch.
All-on-4 (Full Mouth Dental Implants) Cost
All-on-4 implants are recommended when a patient is looking for a secure solution for many missing teeth. This solution restores your entire upper or lower jaw (or both arches).
This is a permanent restoration. However, the overdenture can be removed for cleaning and dental exams.
It is a single unit that may feel bulky because of excess acrylic used. It is generally less expensive than individual implants.
The average cost of full mouth implants ranges from $15,000 to $20,000 (per arch).
There is usually a wide cost range for several reasons, including:
- The implant and overdenture materials
- The dentist
- If any bone grafting or surgical procedure is necessary
Does Dental Insurance Cover Implants?
Traditionally, insurance will not fully cover dental implants because they are considered cosmetic procedures.
While dental insurance will rarely cover an implant, they will typically cover related costs like:
- Dental extractions
- Portions of less expensive treatment options like removable and fixed appliances
Ways to Get Dental Implants Without Insurance
Fortunately, there are several finance options available for those without any dental insurance. Many dental discount plans offer major savings on expensive dental treatments.
Care Credit and Lending Club offers a payment service similar to a credit card used for medical and dental treatments. They help finance expensive services not covered by insurance.
Many dental universities have programs that offer affordable care. This care is provided by students under the supervision of experienced dentists.
Many dental offices also offer flexible payment plans to help offset the expensive cost of implants.
Luckily for many people, there are plenty of ways to help make dental implants affordable. With enough research, you can find popular and reputable financing solutions to afford your implants.
Factors That Affect The Cost of Dental Implants
There are three main factors that can affect the cost of dental implants, including:
- Where you live. The cost of living is higher on the West Coast and is usually more expensive than many places on the East Coast. This could affect how much your implants cost. Also, getting dental implants in a city is typically more expensive than in a smaller town or suburb.
- The material used to make the implants. Dentists can make implants with a few different types of materials. The cost can depend on the type used (e.g., titanium or zirconium).
- The dentist's experience level. Dentists with years of experience typically charge more than newer dentists.
Other Ways to Afford Dental Implants
Discount dental plans are a great way to save money on dental implant treatment. Instead of paying for insurance every year, you will receive discounts on the dental treatments you need without an annual limit.
Members pay one low annual fee and receive access to a network of dentists who offer reduced rates to members. No approvals or claim forms are required to sign up. You will simply take your ID card to the dentist and save on services.
Another way to save on implants is to undergo the procedure at an accredited dental school.
In the U.S. and around the world, many university dental programs offer discounted dental services. The public can visit these on-campus clinics to receive treatment from current dental students. Professional dentists check each step in the process during treatment. Supervision ensures the dental student does everything “by the book.”
When Should Dental Implants Be Replaced?
If you take care of your replacement tooth and practice good oral hygiene, it can last anywhere between 15 and 25 years, sometimes longer. Some people get their implants replaced earlier due to cosmetic reasons.
DentalPlans is the best site for dental savings plans because it compares all the best plans in your area. You know exactly how much every procedure will cost and which dentists are available.