Dental implants are the longest-lasting and most natural looking/functioning solution for replacing missing teeth. Unfortunately, the cost to have implants placed can be quite prohibitive since a single implant can cost thousands of dollars. Luckily, there are few ways in which a patient can obtain implants at a more affordable price.
In This Guide
- Comparison Shopping
- Geographic Location
- Travel Abroad
- Schools of Dentistry
- Dental Societies and Charitable Organizations
- Discount Dental Plans
- Know the Alternatives
- Insurance Coverage
To find the best rates, patients should get quotes from several dentists, asking for a comprehensive breakdown of the fees and estimated total cost of the necessary consultations, imaging (x-rays or CT scans), anesthesia, modeling, surgery, materials (post, abutment and crown) as well as any additional procedures such as sinus lifts and bone grafts.
Dentists are not the only dental professionals that can be certified to perform implant procedures, so patients can get quotes from other qualified professionals including periodontists and oral surgeons. Selecting a newer dental practice may help reduce the price as a dentist who is looking to build a clientele and gain experience may charge less than a more established dentist. That said, be sure you know what to look for when you’re trying to find a good dentist.
The cost of dental implants can vary quite significantly geographically, so patients can find savings by considering a larger geographic area. This is especially true for patients in larger cities. Dentists in urban centers generally have a higher cost of living and higher overhead costs than those in smaller towns and as a result, are more likely to quote higher prices.
Taking the search a step further, dental tourism has become a popular option for those searching for low cost dental implants. Developing countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Hungary and many Asian destinations offer treatment for a fraction of the price patients can expect to pay in developed countries like the United States, Canada and the UK.
This is especially useful for less severe cases in which a patient is a candidate for simultaneous implant and crown placement. While the savings can be impressive, dental tourism should be approached with caution. The licensing standards and regulations of the country in question as well as the credentials and reputation of the prospective dentist should be carefully researched.
Schools of Dentistry
Another option is to take part in a dental implant clinic/program held at a school of dentistry. These programs provide recently graduated dentistry school students looking to gain hands-on experience with the opportunity to perform dental implant procedures with the assistance and supervision of experienced dentists or dental surgeons. Some schools only offer this service to low income individuals – and don’t be surprised if you’re placed on a wait list. The work can take a long time (multiple visits), and the hours can be inconvenient (during working hours), but if you qualify, the wait is well worth the thousands of dollars you’ll save.
The work is typically very good quality since work done at a dental school includes quite a bit of oversight. Each diagnosis and treatment is analyzed and discussed by several students and professors. They provide the same quality treatment as professionals for a fraction of the cost since they’ve studied and practiced the procedures on models.
At the very least, these clinics are a great place to go for a second opinion.
Dental Societies and Charitable Organizations
Some dental societies and non-profit charitable organizations offer free or discounted care for low income patients, often during planned events. There are also associations that provide free care for patients in specific demographic groups, such as victims of domestic violence, people with disabilities, women and children. The American Dental Association lists both state and county dental associations in its online directory.
There are companies such as Care Credit that finance dental work, allowing a patient to receive implants and make monthly payments along with the applicable fees and interest. The main requirement to qualify for the loan is a decent credit score. Since they are the longest-lasting restoration option and typically do not require continuing dental work in the future, financing the cost (despite fees and interest) can be a great way to afford implants.
Discount Dental Plans
Discount dental plans are a membership-based plans in which patients pay yearly or monthly fees in order to receive discounts on dental care, ranging from 10% to 60%. Patients participating in these plans are generally required to use only affiliated dentists within the plan’s network, but the discounts can potentially take hundreds, if not thousands of dollars off of the total cost of an implant procedure.
Know the Alternatives
Bridges and partial dentures are the main alternatives to dental implants for replacing missing or extracted teeth. This is especially the case if there are still viable abutment teeth to support a bridge crown. They do not usually last as long as implants, but dental bridges can last an average of 15 years if they are properly cared for. Bridges are bonded to the abutment teeth so they do not need to be removed for cleaning like partial and full-mouth dentures. The drawback of a dental bridge is that the bone in the jaw supporting it under the artificial teeth will atrophy over time, eventually causing failure of the crown and bridge.
Most dental insurance carriers do not cover implants because it is considered a cosmetic procedure, but company policies continue to change. Some dental insurance providers are starting to offer to pay up to the cost of similar, but less expensive procedure such as bridge or partial dentures. Insurance coverage will usually include procedures that restore functions that are compromised by the pain caused by missing teeth. If dental implants are the only procedure that can bring your oral health back to normal, then your insurance will probably cover at least a portion of it.