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What Are Dental Implants? Everything You Should Know

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People can lose teeth for various reasons, including infection, decay, trauma, and fractures. One way to replace a missing tooth — or several missing teeth — is dental implants. This option has several advantages over standard partial or full dentures, primarily that implants feel and function more like natural teeth and reduce the bone loss associated with traditional dentures. But, while dental implants are a high-quality and typically long-lasting solution, they are expensive, and you may have to pay most of the cost out of your own pocket.  

Does dental insurance cover implants?  

Typically, many dental insurance policies do not include implants because they are considered a cosmetic procedure. Check the details of your insurance to see if implants are included. Some dental insurance policies may pay a portion of the cost of dental implants, such as the dental crown that fits over the implant.   

It’s important to be aware of the annual spending maximums on your dental insurance plan. The annual maximum on many insurance plans is $1,000-$1,500. The total cost for a single dental implant is typically $3,100 to $5,800* – that includes the implant itself, a crown to replace the tooth, and the abutment that attaches the crown to the implant. You may also need associated treatments such as extraction of a partially broken tooth, X-rays, or a bone graft/sinus lift to help ensure the implant’s stability. You can see why you’d have to pay a lot of the cost of dental implants out of your own pocket even if you have insurance.   

Often the best way to reduce the cost of dental implants is to join a dental savings plan, a trusted alternative to dental insurance. Unlike insurance, these plans have no annual spending maximums, and many do include discounts for dental implants. Plan members report saving an average of 50% on the cost of their dental care.   

See how much you can save with a dental savings plan.

Use our calculator below >

Types of dental implants and costs  

The cost of dental implants can be influenced by several factors, including the type of implant, the material used, the number of implants needed, the dentist’s experience, and the location of the dental practice. It’s important to consult with a dental professional to determine the best type of implant for your needs and to receive a detailed cost estimate.   

Endosteal implants  

These are the most common type of dental implants. Endosteal implants are surgically inserted directly into the jawbone. Once the surrounding gum tissue has healed, a second surgery is needed to connect a post, also known as the abutment, to the original implant, followed by attaching an artificial tooth (or teeth) to the post individually or grouped on a bridge or denture. These implants are typically made of titanium and shaped like small screws. They are a good choice for patients with a healthy enough jawbone to support the implant. The cost of endosteal implants can vary widely depending on the material used, the number of implants needed, and geographical location. Generally, the price range for a single, complete Endosteal implant is between $3,000 to $4,500  

Subperiosteal implants  

This type of implants are primarily used when a patient does not have enough healthy jawbone to support an endosteal implant. Instead of being fixed into the jawbone, these implants rest on top of the bone but under the gum. A metal frame is fitted onto the jawbone just below the gum tissue. As the gums heal, the frame becomes fixed to the jawbone. Posts, which are attached to the frame, protrude through the gums, and the artificial teeth are then mounted to the posts. These implants are less common than endosteal implants and are usually more expensive due to their complexity and the custom fabrication required. The cost can range significantly, but it’s generally higher than endosteal implants.  

Mini dental implants (MDIs)  

Also known as small or narrow diameter implants, MDIs are thinner than most commonly used dental implants. They are used primarily to stabilize a lower denture and are less invasive than traditional dental implants. MDIs are inserted through less-invasive techniques and are often used for patients who are not candidates for traditional implant surgery due to medical reasons or lack of bone mass. They can also be more affordable, between $1,000-$1,500 per implant.  

All-on-4  

This technique is used for patients who have lost all or most of their teeth. It involves placing four titanium dental implants in the jawbone, which serve as a base for a full arch of teeth. The All-on-4 method is often preferred for its stability and for providing a full set of teeth without individual implants for each missing tooth. This can be more cost-effective in the long run, but the initial cost is quite high, often starting at around $20,000 per arch.  

Benefits and risks of dental implants    

Dental implants offer several benefits and come with certain risks, much like any medical procedure. Understanding these can help you make an informed decision if you’re considering implants for tooth replacement.  

Benefits of Dental Implants 

  • Improved appearance: Dental implants closely resemble natural teeth. They are designed to fuse with bone, becoming permanent. This significantly improves the appearance and can boost self-esteem.  
  • Enhanced speech: Poor-fitting dentures can slip within the mouth, causing slurred or mumbled speech. Dental implants allow you to speak without worrying that teeth might slip.  
  • Comfort: Implants eliminate the discomfort of removable dentures because they become part of you, removing the irritation and pain often associated with dentures.  
  • Easier eating: Sliding dentures can make chewing difficult. Dental implants function like your own teeth, allowing you to eat your favorite foods with confidence and without pain.  
  • Improved oral health: Unlike a tooth-supported bridge, dental implants don’t require reducing other teeth. More of your own teeth are left intact, improving long-term oral health. Individual implants also allow easier access between teeth, improving oral hygiene.  
  • Durability: Implants are very durable and can last many years. With good care, many implants last a lifetime.  
  • Convenience: Dental implants eliminate the embarrassing inconvenience of removing dentures, as well as the need for messy adhesives to keep them in place.  

Risks of dental implants  

  • Surgical risks: As with any surgery, there are risks associated with anesthesia and the surgical procedure itself, including infection, bleeding, and nerve damage.  
  • Infection: There is a risk of infection at the implant site, which can affect the surrounding tissues and jawbone.  
  • Implant failure: In some cases, the jawbone does not fuse properly with the implant, leading to the failure of the implant. This is more common in smokers and those with certain medical conditions.  
  • Damage to surrounding structures: There is a risk of damage to surrounding teeth or blood vessels during the implant procedure.  
  • Nerve damage: Improper placement of dental implants, particularly in the lower arch,  can lead to nerve damage, resulting in pain, numbness, or tingling in your natural teeth, gums, lips, or chin.  
  • Sinus problems: For implants in the upper jaw, there is a risk of developing sinus problems if the implant protrudes into one of your sinus cavities.  

Despite these risks, dental implants are generally considered safe and are a common procedure with a high success rate. However, it is crucial to discuss all potential risks and benefits with your dentist or oral surgeon, who can provide more detailed and personalized information based on your specific situation.  

Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits will significantly increase the success rate of dental implants.  

Affordable dental implants  

Dental savings plans (also known as discount dental plans) are an affordable alternative to insurance. As noted above, plan members report saving an average of 50%* on their dental care. And, unlike dental insurance, dental savings plans have no annual limits and your savings start right away, even on restorative care such as root canals, crowns, dentures, and dental implants.   

It’s simple to choose a plan at DentalPlans.com, the largest marketplace for dental savings plans and dental insurance. You can compare more than 25 plans from the most trusted brands in healthcare, and easily join your selected plan. Want a personalized plan recommendation to reduce the cost of dental implants? Give us a call at 1-833-735-0399. Or use our calculator below for a quick look at how much you can save on dental implants with a dental savings plan.  

*Discount Health Program consumer and provider surveys indicate average savings of 50%. Savings may vary by provider, location, and plan.     
All cost information was obtained from DentalPlans.com procedure search tool, and represent an average of costs in zip codes 10025 (NYC, NY), 33135 (Miami, FL) and 60603 (Chicago, IL).   

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