After “Do you know a good dentist?”, the question I’m most frequently asked is “How can I save money on implants?”.
If you haven’t read it already, a list of the ways to lower the cost can be found here. (If you’ve used any of these methods to reduce the amount you paid for dental implants, please contact me as I would love to hear about your experience and how much you were able to save.)
Dental discount plans (different from dental insurance) are one of the most attractive options for those looking to save on expensive dental procedures. However, some offers may sound too good to be true and unfortunately, some turn out to be. Plans can be hit and miss because they are sometimes used by sub-par or dishonest dentists to take advantage of their patients.
Here Is How a Typical Dental Plan Works (and the downsides):
- Members are charged a yearly fee in the range of $100-$300 to get access to the deals it provides.
- You go to one of the dentists on the plan’s list. (there might not be one in your area
- This “low cost marketing” provides the dentists with a steady stream of patients and therefore a more stable business. A discounted patient is better than no patient for dentists whose schedules aren’t 100% booked. (Some dentists may treat full cost patients better than ones who get a deal including better appointment times, referring patients to specialists unnecessarily, etc.)
- You get a discount of anywhere from 10%-60%, depending on the plan and procedure. (A dentist may increase their “regular” prices so that the deal has less/no benefit compared to the prices charged at other clinics.)
Important to Note:
- Some plans have waiting periods before you can have certain procedures done.
- If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you might not qualify for coverage.
- Plans typically have several levels of coverage that include different procedures.
In all of these cases, check the terms of the agreement and “read the fine print” before racking up thousands of dollars in dental bills.
Frank was kind enough to provide a detailed review of his experience with getting implants, including what dental plan he had that helped him save 20-35% on each of the procedures (implant surgical placement, tooth extractions, etc.) in order to help others who find the costs prohibitive. He says himself that it was unlikely that he would have proceeded without the monetary benefits of the plan making the procedures more affordable.
First Off, Where Are You From?
Valparaiso Indiana, North West Indiana. 40 miles from Chicago.
Please Tell Us a Bit About Your Experience.
During the past 40 years I have only found three dentists who could be classified as honest and competent. My experiences are consistent with this Readers Digest article. Jan 16, 1997 – Drilling for Dollars: How Dentists Rip Us Off … An exclusive undercover investigation by Reader’s Digest
I remain perplexed why I have NEVER found a dental practice in the US that asks new patients what their preference is in regards to the disposal of precious metal removed during the course of treatment. Most of my molar crowns were gold and I do not hesitate to ask for a “doggy bag”. A gold crown recently removed (4.5 grams) just sold for $123.00 on eBay.
Caught two Florida dentists falsifying my dental records (1987, 1994) to conceal slipshod/sub-standard care. One was a dental plan member and the other one was a generic crook. Developed a rock solid case on one of those #$#*$&@ and he was ultimately fined and reprimanded by the state bureau of professional regulation, but his license should have been revoked for six months.
Why Did You Choose Dental Implants Over the Alternatives?
Dental implants were the logical option. Insufficient neighboring teeth for bridge and too many teeth remaining for dentures. A dentist once told me a partial denture would feel like a baseball in my mouth.
Who Was Your Dentist?
Cosmopolitan Dentistry Dr. Luis L Cuellar DDS
Why Did You Choose Him?
Much to my surprise this Indiana dentist offered reduced rates for those enrolled in one of the prepaid dental plans, which are frequently used by some dentists to herd sheep to the slaughter. I requested a quote from the dentist on an impulse and was pleasantly surprised. This dentist did his first implants in 1985. He performed the two implants on the same day of the extractions, one upper molar and one lower molar. He rated my existing bone structure as “B”, which I presume implied above average. Anyone contemplating implants should do their homework and find an ethical and capable dentist. Not everyone has sufficient existing jaw bone mass to accept an implant. I was surprised to learn jaw bone begins to recede/disappear within months of a tooth being pulled. Hygiene is apparently very important to ensure longevity of the implant, i.e., floss regularly to keep plague from forming below the gum line and potentially creating problems with the implant. I expect to have the abutments and crowns seated in about 3 months, subsequent to the implants being “adopted” and secured by new bone growth.
What Work Did You Have Done and How Much Did it All Cost?
- $5,400 total cost for two implants.
- $350.00 for CT scan
- $360 for four extractions. 2 standard, 2 surgical
My treatment plan lists $2,100 (normal cost) for 06010 (implant surgical placement) reduced by $724 as a plan member, which is 35 percent. It would be logical to assume different dentists might apply different discounts. My total cost for four extractions and two implants is $5,762 and it is unlikely I would have proceeded without the monetary benefits of the plan totaling $3,320, which would have been a total cost of $9,082.
Procedure 06056 is $400 less $80 (20 percent) so it appears the dental plan benefits range from 20 percent to 35 percent. 07953 Bone Graft is $300 less $56 or slightly less than 20 percent.
Total savings with the plan ($150 annual cost) was about $3,320.
What is the Dental Plan that Saved you $3,320?
Your site was very informative and comprehensive. The plan is Careington Care 500. Generally speaking I review these plans, and the providers who they enlist, with a high degree of healthy skepticism but this one was one of those rare situations when the plan unexpectedly provided benefits I did not anticipate and the dentist is top notch. I have only encountered TWO dentists in 21 years involved with dental plans worthy of praise. The plan did not specifically list any procedures related to implants but it did have the stipulation below referencing 20 percent.
Of course how can any patient be certain the dentist isn’t “working the numbers” when they apply the 20 percent or engaging in some other unethical antics to take advantage of the patient. However, Dr Luis Cuellar* in Valparaiso Indiana has proved to be refreshingly honest and competent.
*Procedures not listed on this schedule will be discounted at 20% off the General Dentist’s normal fee at the time of service.
How Long Did You Feel Discomfort After the Procedure?
No discomfort after four extractions (two surgical) and two implants. I asked the dentist about the issue of pain and he indicated some patients feel more discomfort after these procedures, so it remains a mystery why others have no pain or discomfort. Was I fortunate to have the implants situated the same day and the same sites as 2 (of 4) extractions. It would be interesting to explore the percentage of patients who have implants situated the same day as extractions. It certainly makes sense to do so.
Anything Else You Would Like to Add?
This dentist required a CT scan, aka cone beam scan, before starting. When questioned he rated the factors pertaining to my suitability for implants as a “B”. The scan was $350 and was performed at a different facility not associated with the implant dentist.
In 1999 I asked a dentist to rate the tooth he was about to place a crown on, on a scale of 1 to 5, and he balked. I knew there wasn’t enough tooth structure remaining but I also knew the prepaid insurance plan would have to reimburse me if it failed prematurely . This “professional” performed $800 of procedures on a bicuspid (root canal, post, build up, ceramic crown) and it fell off seven months later… as I predicted…and the insurance plan refunded the $800.