Dental implants are often classified as a cosmetic procedure by many dental insurance companies, and cosmetic procedures are rarely covered by dental insurance. This is unfortunate because for many people, dental implants aren’t a luxury, they are a necessity – as anyone who has had to deal with denture slippage knows.
Dental implants can replace a single tooth or provide a sturdy support structure that keeps bridges and dentures (in particular, lower dentures) securely in place. And since they mimic the supporting root structure of a natural tooth, a dental implant can stop bone loss around the site of a missing tooth, preventing issues that may cause significant health problems later in life.
These are most common type of implants. The complete restoration requires three parts – the implant itself - a titanium post which is placed into your jaw under the gum line, the abutment which is visible above your gum, and a dental crown that fits on top of the abutment and replaces the natural tooth.
These are placed just above or onto the jawbone, and are used only in cases where people don’t have sufficient bone structure to support an endosteal implant.
Gaining in popularity. These look like a toothpick-sized screw, are placed into the jawbone, and are typically used to secure a denture or bridge in place. They are also called small diameter implants (SDIs) or narrow body implants (NBIs). Standard implants are 3.4 to 5.8 mm wide, but mini implants are 1.8 to 3.3 mm in diameter. Just four mini implants may be enough to secure an entire lower denture. Besides being less expensive, getting mini implants is a less invasive and faster process. Your dentist will determine whether mini implants will work for you.
A single, complete Endosteal implant can cost $3,000 to $4,500. A full or partial set of Endosteal dental implants can run from $20,000 to $45,000. The cost is about the same for a Subperiosteal implant.
Mini implants typically cost between $1,000-$1,500 per implant, or – when placed all at once - about $2,500 to $6,000 for 4-6 mini-implants to support a denture/bridge.
You may be lucky enough to have a dental insurance plan that covers dental implants, and if so you may be able to reduce your implant cost by about 10%. Check your policy’s documentation carefully, and then double-check with your dentist’s insurance expert or your insurance’s customer care team. And remember, even if you are covered, PPO dental insurance plans – the kind accepted by the majority of dentists - typically have a maximum annual coverage limit of $1,000-1,500 – the cost of one mini-implant.
If your insurance doesn’t cover implants, part of the procedure – such as the crown or dentures – may still be covered. It’s worth asking. And In rare cases, your medical insurance may cover the cost of dental implants that are medically necessary. Again, ask your dentist and/or insurance provider for guidance.
Health Savings Account
HSAs can be used to pay for dental treatment. Check with the benefits coordinator at your workplace or your financial provider to confirm that dental implants – or perhaps parts of the procedure - are a qualified health care expense.
Dental Payment Plans
Your dentist may offer payment plans, or work with companies that provide short-term loans for healthcare expenses. Ask your dentist about funding options, but make sure to carefully review loan terms, and abide by payment schedules.
Dental implants can be so costly that it may make sense to combine a vacation/business trip with dental care. Popular options include Mexico, Costa Rica and Hungary. As an example, the cost of dental implants in Hungary is roughly half what you’d pay in the U.S. One thing to be aware of is that that implants require multiple dental visits and healing time in between. Unless you’re getting mini implants, you can’t just fly in for a week, get the procedure done, and head home. If you’re close to the Mexican border though, this may not be an issue.
Dental Savings Plans
The alternative to dental insurance, dental savings plans can save members up to 25% on the cost of implants. Make sure the plan you join includes discounts for implants, of course. And with dental savings plans, you get discounts on dental treatment within 72-hours of joining a plan, there are no months-long waiting periods to suffer through. Also, dental savings plans have no annual spending limit, which is obviously very important when you’re getting an expensive procedure like implants. As noted above, PPO dental insurance plans have an annual limit of $1,000-$1,500 – and a traditional dental implant costs $3000-$4500.
With a Dental Savings Plan, you also save 10%-60% on virtually all dental procedures, including dentures, root canals and crowns, bridges, fillings, regular checkups and x-rays – and more. Many plans also include discounts on prescriptions as well as vision and hearing care.