When you think about the best long-term solution for missing teeth, dental implants may come to your mind first.
Dental implants are growing more popular because they “feel” more like your real teeth, but they may not actually be as feasible as you think.
Here’s everything you need to know about dental implants: the cost, the process and some alternative options for replacing missing teeth.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Dental Implant?
- Would I Qualify for Dental Implants?
- What Material Is Used to Make a Dental Implant?
- What Is the Dental Implant Process?
- How Long Does Dental Implant Treatment Take?
- How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?
- How Can I Afford Dental Implants?
- What Type of Dentist Will I Need to See for a Dental Implant?
- Which Is Better: Dental Implants, Dentures or Dental Bridges?
- What Questions Should I Ask My Dentist About Getting a Dental Implant?
What Is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is an artificial tooth made to replace a lost one. It is implanted into your jawbone and fuses to the screw of the implant over several months, creating a permanent tooth.
Because this tooth is not real, it will not be susceptible to bacteria or decay like other teeth.
Would I Qualify for Dental Implants?
Similar to certain types of braces (like Invisalign), certain qualifications need to be met before you can get dental implants.
Generally, you will need:
- One or more missing teeth
- A jawbone that has reached full growth
- Adequate bone to secure the implants in place, or qualify for bone grafts
- Healthy oral tissues
- No health conditions that affect your bone’s ability to heal
- To be unable or unwilling to wear dentures
- To be willing to commit several months to the process
- To be smoke free
We recommend considering your options carefully before deciding on dental implants. While this product seems ideal over dental bridges or dentures, it is an intensive procedure with a high cost.
Want to consider other alternatives to dental implants? Here is some helpful information about:
What Material Is Used to Make a Dental Implant?
There are a few pieces needed to create a dental implant:
- A Titanium Rod – This acts as the tooth root. The rod is inserted into the jaw to hold the tooth crown in place.
- The Abutment – This is attached to the implant using a screw to connect the implant to the crown.
- A Dental Crown – The crown is made to match the missing tooth in size and color and caps the implant.
What Is the Dental Implant Process?
Step 1: First Visit
A comprehensive oral exam is needed at a prosthodontist or general dentist who has training in placing and restoring dental implants.
From this visit, your dentist or prosthodontist will schedule subsequent visits that are needed to start the process.
Step 2: Tooth Extractions
Your second visit may include extracting any decayed teeth that need to be removed before an implant can be placed.
After the tooth extractions, your mouth will need time to heal before an implant (or implants) can be placed.
Step 3: Implant Placement
Your third visit (if you need tooth extractions first) will take place after your mouth has had time to heal. At this visit, your dentist will place the implant in your jaw.
More time is needed after the implant is placed so it has time to fuse to your jawbone.
Step 4: Placing a Healing Collar
Your fourth visit will take place after the implant(s) are fused with your jawbone. During this visit, your surgeon or dentist will check the implant and place a healing collar on top of it.
Step 5: Crown Placement
Once the tissue heals around the healing collar, the collar is removed and the abutment and temporary crown is screwed into the implant.
Step 6: Second Crown Placement
After 4-6 weeks, your dentist will have you return for your permanent crown, which the lab or your dental office has been making.
How Long Does Dental Implant Treatment Take?
Dental implants typically take 5-6 months to complete depending on where the implants are placed:
- Lower jaw: 5 months
- Upper jaw: 6 months
This could be for one implant or several. There are typically several months in between visits to allow the mouth to heal before moving on to the next step of the process.
How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?
Dental implants (including the abutment and crown) can range anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 for ONE implant without dental insurance.
What Goes into that Cost?
There are many variables that contribute to the cost of dental implants:
- Each part of the implant: implant, abutment and crown
- Where you’re located (some areas of the country offer cheaper dental prices than others)
- The number of implants needed
- The type of implant your dentist recommends (there are different implants available of varying costs)
- Visiting a dental specialist. Dental implants are typically placed by an oral surgeon or prosthodontist, which means the cost will be higher than just visiting a general dentist for treatment.
Are There More Affordable Dental Implant Options?
With traditional implants costing anywhere from $2.000 to $5,000 per tooth without dental insurance, you may wonder how anyone can afford a full mouth of implants.
All-on-4 implants require as few as 4 implants per jaw. The cost per jaw can range from roughly $12,000 to $25,000. They are not removable by the patient.
The replacement teeth can be made of either zirconia or acrylic, with zirconia being the more expensive option but also feeling and looking more like your real teeth.
With all-on-4 implants, patients can often bypass the lengthy months-long process of traditional implants and get everything done in one day. They may even be able to skip a bone graft that would have otherwise been necessary.
These are also called “implant-supported dentures” or “overdentures.” Assuming you need four implants in each jaw, the cost per jaw can vary from roughly $6,400 to $8,800. The process takes about as long as traditional implants but costs much less. You also may have to factor in a bone graft.
Snap-on dentures can be removed by the patient at night, just like traditional dentures.
Keep in mind that since the teeth are usually made of acrylic, not porcelain, they will not feel as much like your real teeth. However, they can still look very real.
Does Dental Insurance Cover Dental Implants?
Dental insurance does not typically cover dental implants because implants are considered “cosmetic” by the American Dental Association. However, some insurance policies will cover implants in certain situations (for example, if it is determined that another kind of tooth replacement will not suffice in your specific situation).
Check your policy if you have dental insurance. How much an insurance plan covers depends on:
- The insurance provider
- Your plan coverage details
- Your plan annual limits
Not a fan of dental insurance? We understand the high monthly premiums plus the remaining treatment costs may not actually end up saving you much in the long run.
In that case, consider getting a dental savings plan. It won’t cost you much and could save you 20% or more on the cost of dental implants. And when you’re looking at a $5,000 bill for dental implants, $1,000 is no small discount off that total price!
For more information, check out this Dental Implant Cost Guide.
How Can I Afford Dental Implants?
There are some options available (mentioned in the implant cost guide above) that can cut down on the cost of dental implants, or at least make the payment more manageable.
Dental Savings Plans
Dental savings plans sometimes seem too good to be true for many of our customers. They offer low monthly/annual plan rates and significant discounts on treatments you would have had to pay for completely out of pocket.
And if you have dental insurance, this might be a great supplement to help you afford the total cost of your dental implants once you reach your annual maximum.
Our Careington Care 500 plan gets 20% off dental implants, and the Dental Access plan powered by the Aetna Dental Access Network saves 15-50%. Although both dental savings plans save on dental work like bridges, partials, implants and bone grafts, we’ve listed below the areas in which each plan tends to be the strongest.
Our Dental Savings Plans Compared
Dental Access Plan powered by the Aetna Dental Access Network:
- Usually saves more on dental specialist visits and consultations
- Bone grafting (saving you anywhere from 15-50%)
- Implant placement (saving you anywhere from 15-50%)
Careington Care 500 Plan:
- Usually saves more on general dentist visits, consultations and dental x-rays
- Simple tooth extractions
- Alternative implant options, such as partial dentures or dental bridges (saving you around 50% on the cost)
|Average Cost of Dental Implants with Careington Care 500 Plan|
|Procedure Type||Cost w/o Dental Insurance||
Cost w/ 1Dental Savings Plan
*Avg of Texas, Florida, California & New York
|Porcelain Crown Supported by Implant
ADA Code 6065
|Porcelain/Metal Crown Supported by Implant
ADA Code 6066
|Metal Crown Supported by Implant
ADA Code 6067
When you talk to your dentist about treatment, ask him for pricing on this procedure and then compare prices to our price list (just enter your zip code). The abutment is not listed on our discounted price list. However, you will receive 20% off the pricing on an abutment, even at specialists.
Not sure which plan is best for you? Give us a call: 800-372-7615.
Can I Use Dental Insurance and a Dental Savings Plan?
While dental offices don’t always allow you to use dental insurance and a dental savings plan on the same dental visit, you may be able to use your dental savings plan once you have reached your dental insurance maximum for the year, which won’t be hard to do when getting dental implants.
You’ll need to work with your dentist on this. Just make sure he/she has information for both of your plans to help you make this more affordable for your pocketbook.
Some general dentists and prosthodontists offer dental implant specials throughout the year for patients needing the work.
Prosthodontists and general dentists know dental implants are not cheap. They should be willing to work with you on a payment plan for the work you need. This could help make your payments more manageable instead of having to pay one big lump sum. Ask your dentist before treatment.
You might also consider using CareCredit, which has no interest if paid off in the first 24-month promotional period, or another low interest credit card so you can pay your dental bill in monthly installments instead of paying it all at once.
If none of these options seem like a good fit for you and the cost is still too much, you may want to cut your losses and consider other alternatives, like dental bridges or dentures.
What Type of Dentist Will I Need to See for a Dental Implant?
Dental implants are usually placed by oral surgeons or periodontists. However, general dentists with additional training can also place implants.
Which Is Better: Dental Implants, Dentures or Dental Bridges?
You might be surprised to know that people have had to decide between dental bridges, dental implants and dentures for centuries.
However, the materials have come a long way since 2000 BC. Instead of having bamboo for teeth or someone else’s teeth in your mouth (yikes!), you can have nylon resin or acrylic resin based material specifically made for your teeth.
Use our information below and your dentist’s recommendation to help you in your decision between these three common tooth replacement options.
- Not susceptible to decay or bacteria
- Will not shift or slip when you talk or chew
- Looks just like a normal tooth
- Can last for around 15 years – sometimes even longer
- Often the most expensive option for replacing lost teeth
- Lengthy process
- Requires surgery
- They are adjustable so they can be easily modified as needed
- Most affordable option if you need to replace a lot of missing/decayed teeth
- Natural looking. Dentures have come a long way in becoming more and more natural looking
- Surgery is not needed
- Can weaken other teeth if you get partial dentures
- They are fragile and can break if dropped
- Require higher maintenance with regular cleanings to maintain quality of the materials
- Can slip as time goes on and not set firmly in place
- Cannot eat certain foods (like nuts or almonds) because they can be hard on the dentures
- Need to replace every 3-6 years (so keep that in mind when you consider the cost)
- Offers both functional and aesthetic correction
- Does not slip or slide when you chew, eat or speak
- The abutment can become damaged after the bridge is fitted
- Tooth decay can happen if the bridge and crowns are not fitted properly and allow plaque and bacteria to enter underneath them
What Questions Should I Ask My Dentist About Getting a Dental Implant?
- What is a dental implant?
- What’s involved in the process?
- When getting an implant, how long does it take from beginning to end?
- Am I a candidate for a dental implant?
- Why would someone consider getting an implant over a denture or bridge?
- What would happen to my mouth if a missing tooth is not replaced?
- What is the failure rate for implants?
- What might cause an implant to fail?
- Is there an age range that makes a person too young or too old to get an implant?
- What are drawbacks to getting an implant that a person might not know to ask?
- What is the recovery time after getting an implant?
- If I need assistance breaking up the implant cost, what options does your office provide?
- Are there other questions that I should be asking that I may not be aware of?