When reviewing and comparing costs for dental implants, it’s important to consider that dental implants are “medical devices” which require a larger team of dental professionals and that the placement of dental implants is both art and science. You are, in fact, buying a service rather than a product – a service that can change your life and give you permanent teeth that will last a lifetime.
What’s Included in Dental Implant Costs?
Initial Consultation. The the first time you meet with your doctor is extremely important. Much of the planning for the rest of the treatment will be done during the first consultation. The dentist will assess the health of the teeth and jaw bone. You will also need diagnostic imaging during this visit (usually a panoramic X-ray). X-rays are absolutely necessary for this procedure, and you may not want to trust a professional who will do an implant without them.
Surgery. After the initial consultation, you are scheduled for surgery implantation where the dentist will place the actual dental implants and the new teeth are fitted and adjusted. While these won’t be your final implants, you will leave our offices after this visit with beautiful, fixed, functional teeth.
Follow-Up Appointment. After 3-6 months, when the implants are fused to the natural bone, the dentist will take new impressions of your mouth and prepare a final, stronger, permanent set of teeth adjusted to a perfect fit. This helps ensure that the teeth will last for decades, and provide maximum support, beauty, and function to the patient.
Specialist Care. Dental implants fall into the category of restoration dentistry and have their own category of implantology. Implant surgery can be done by a periodontist, an oral surgeon, or a dentist with advanced training in implantology. Because of the specialist training necessary to perform the procedure, it’s common for the dental professional to charge a higher fee than for other services.
General Anesthetic. Some patients may choose to undergo general anesthetic during the dental implant procedure, meaning the patient is asleep for the whole procedure. This is more expensive and requires an anesthesiologist to be present for the entire surgery. It’s more common to perform the procedure using a local anesthetic, meaning the areas the dentist is working on are numbed but the patient is awake. Some patients might be too nervous during the procedure if they are awake, and if this is a problem you should consider asking for a sedative to ease your anxiety if you’ll be under local anesthetic.
Bone Grafts. Patients who have lost a lot of bone may also require bone grafts. Bone grafts are performed in a separate procedure, several months before the implant is placed, and will require several months to heal and for the graft to fuse into the regular bone. This extra procedure will, of course, mean additional costs. This also means you won’t be able to have the procedure done in one trip, since the graft will take time to grow into the bone and you need to allow tissues to heal.
Material. The type of material used in the crown can make a big difference. Crowns made of resin are the most affordable, but don’t look nearly as natural as ceramic crowns or porcelain crowns. Porcelain and ceramic also tend to be stronger, which is another reason they’re preferred for visible teeth. Resin crowns are also much less durable and will need to be replaced much sooner than other materials.
Teeth Location. Which teeth are being replaced also influences the cost of treatment. Front teeth are much harder for the surgeon to work on and require more skill to make the implant look like a natural tooth. As a rule, visible teeth tend to be more expensive, and the surgery tends to be longer.
Are Dental Implants More Cost Effective in the Long Run?
While more expensive than dentures, dental implants are the more cost-effective option for dental restoration, and provide a more natural, secure, longer-lasting solution. Other options, such as a tooth-supported bridge, have a limited lifespan and must be replaced. The American Dental Association reports that the average bridge must be replaced every 10.1 years. However, clinical studies have shown that implant-supported crowns (like we’re discussing here) are effective at 20+ years in 95% of cases. This study shows a 98.8% 10-year survival rate of dental implants, which means the implants will almost certainly outlast bridges. Other studies have shown the effectiveness of dental implants in the shorter term. This Swedish study showed a 98.2% survival rate of the implant (Not for patients; there were no fatalities reported in the study!) over 32 months with the immediately loaded implants. Implants may be more expensive up-front, but over time their superior value and lifespan mean you’ll be saving money in the long run.