Implants are the gold standard of care in tooth replacement. They are durable, long-lasting, and an effective way to get your smile back to the place you want it to be. Implants feel and look natural, so you can still be yourself with your new smile.
Missing teeth can present many challenges, both obvious and more covert. A missing tooth can lead to the surrounding teeth moving over into the empty space, which can change your bite — potentially requiring orthodontic treatment.
Your jawbone has a sort of “use it or lose it” attitude. If the bone doesn’t feel the pressure from chewing (which it no longer will where the tooth is missing) then the bone reabsorbs. The reabsorption can begin pretty quickly, and leads to complications in the future, both aesthetically and medically.
Dental implants can repair your smile, help you avoid bone reabsorption, and keep your jawbone in good health for many years to come. But they aren’t cheap. In this guide, we will explore all the factors that contribute to your total dental implant cost.
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How Much Does It Cost to Get Dental Implants?
The cost of dental implants can vary significantly depending on how many teeth you need to have implanted. For a single implant, the cost averages between $1,500 and $6,000. If you need between 2-4 teeth implanted, your price will average between $6,000 and $10,000. If you need a full mouth of teeth replaced, that can cost you anywhere from $7,000-$90,000.
We know these are some pretty sizable price ranges, but don’t panic — we are going to get into all of the contributing factors that can add to your total treatment cost for dental implants. But first, let’s look a little more closely at the implant process itself.
What Does the Process Entail?
The implant process takes place over several months. This is because each step requires a great deal of recovery time. The specifics of this will depend on your particular condition but should take 3-6 months.
There are three pieces placed for a dental implant: the root, the abutment, and the crown. The root is screwed into your jawbone, the abutment is attached to the root, and the crown is attached to the abutment.
Usually, these three pieces are placed during three different procedures with months of recovery in between. However, some folks with very healthy jawbones are able to implant the root and the abutment during the same appointment — it all depends on your particular set of circumstances.
Oftentimes, if a patient only needs one tooth implanted, a local anesthetic will be used during the procedure. For more complex cases where more teeth need to be implanted, it’s possible you would need to be put under with a general anesthetic. This requires more expertise and hands-on care from a specialist, which will add to your overall total for this procedure.
Other Price Factors
Dental implants can vary a great deal in cost. Here are some of the variables at play determining your total cost.
1. Preliminary Procedures
Implants are meant to replace teeth from the root. So if the tooth you want to replace is still in your mouth, treatment for you will start with extracting that tooth. After extraction, you’ll need to wait an average of ten weeks before moving forward with the next stage of treatment (though there are exceptions). Tooth extraction typically costs $150-$700.
If your jaw bone isn’t strong enough to support an implant, you may need bone graft surgery before receiving your implants. If you don’t need a lot of bone grafting, this can be done the same day as your other procedure. If you need a more significant bone graft, it can take a few months for the transplanted bone to produce enough new structure for the implant to latch onto.
A bone graft can add anywhere from $200-$3,200 to your total price.
There are two different materials you can use for your implant post and abutment: titanium or zirconia. Zirconia is an artificial stone and titanium is a metal. Both of these materials will require a few months of healing so that bone can grow around the root.
Though both options are safe, titanium is more time tested and generally recognized as sturdier and more reliable. It is also less expensive than zirconia. There are several advantages to a zirconia implant. Its lighter color prevents a gray shadow through the gum which is common in some titanium implants. It’s also bioinert – meaning it won’t cause the reaction that some people with metal sensitivities may experience with a titanium post.
For the crown itself, you can choose to have one that screws into the abutment or one that is cemented to the abutment. The cemented crowns require fewer appointments and don’t run the risk of gradually becoming unscrewed. In the long run, you’ll spend less money with a cemented crown due to fewer appointments.
The materials the crown is made of can also affect your overall price. It can be porcelain, porcelain fused to metal (PFM), gold, zirconia, or lithium disilicate (also known as Emax crowns).
PFMs are usually going to be the lowest cost option, typically between $500-$1,500 per tooth. The most expensive material is porcelain or Emax, which typically range from $800-$3,000 per tooth.
The best material for your crown will depend on which tooth you are replacing, as well as your habits and preferences. Your dentist can help you decide which material will work best for you and your lifestyle.
3. Temporary Tooth
As we’ve mentioned, the process of getting a dental implant can take several months. If your implant is for a tooth in the back of your mouth, it’s likely you won’t mind having the gap for a little while — but if you’re getting an implant for a tooth that is more front and center, you’ll probably want a temporary tooth for the time in between.
Your options vary depending on which tooth you had removed, but it’s likely you will receive a temporary retainer or a dental flipper to bridge the gap. A dental flipper is a removable retainer that is basically out of sight (except for the tooth it is replacing). These can range in price from $450-$1,000.
If you are replacing more than one tooth, the price of the flipper is likely to increase.
4. Office Location
Oftentimes, the more expensive a place is, the more they will charge for treatment. Sometimes simply leaving the city and looking for a dentist in a nearby suburb is enough distance to render some savings. Be sure to compare your options and see what offices in your region are offering.
Expertise is important with a procedure this invasive — so even though it’s tempting to seek out savings, it’s also important to make sure you’re getting care from the most qualified person.
There are three different dental professionals who are qualified to do this surgery: dentists, oral surgeons, and periodontists. Of those three, your general dentist is less likely than the others to have a wealth of experience in this arena (though they probably were the one to recommend this treatment to you in the first place).
An oral surgeon is most familiar with surgical procedures, so you can be sure you’re in good hands with them. They receive a medical degree and complete surgical residencies after they finish dental school.
A periodontist is an expert on dental implants and can both do this surgery themselves or oversee a dentist completing the surgery. After dental school, a periodontist attends a residency program for three years.
It’s best to seek out the most specifically qualified individual for treatment as complex and delicate as this.
6. Recurring Expenses
Implants are durable. It’s unlikely you’ll need to replace the root or the abutment, as these can usually last for decades. The crown itself may require replacement down the line but can usually last between 5-20 years — sometimes more depending on the material and your habits.
Crowns vary in price but typically fall somewhere between $1,000-$3,000.
Dental implants are a safe and effective method of tooth replacement, but they do not come cheap. Here are some ways you can approach dental implants that can hopefully help bring down your cost — or at least lower the payments.
As dental implants become more and more favored in the industry over bridges and dentures, insurance companies seem to be slowly changing their policies around dental implant coverage.
As we’ve mentioned, within dental implant treatment, there are many different procedures; some of these are more likely to be covered by your insurance than others. So though your insurance company may not cover the implant itself, they may cover the crown that goes over the top. Be sure to get clarification from your provider about what they will cover for your dental implant treatment and seek out a dentist/surgeon/periodontist in network.
Depending on the particular office you choose for treatment, there is the potential to receive in-house financing (like a payment plan). Since this treatment can vary so much in price, it’s important to talk with the office to see what your options are.
It’s possible to take out a dental loan to help pay for your treatment, even if the treatment you’re getting is cosmetic. Since the lender can’t repossess your dental implants, there tends to be a higher interest rate on loans like these than loans with collateral (like a car loan).
Due to this lending risk, most dental loans will require a credit check. So this isn’t likely to be a viable option for folks who don’t have a credit score they feel confident in. These loans also tend to have high interest rates, so be careful not to rush into something that you cannot realistically pay off.
Comparison to Other Treatment Options
Beyond its durability and relative permanence, the main difference between dental implants and other forms of treatment is how invasive the procedure is. Implants require surgery (often more than one), whereas most other treatments can be accomplished in just a sitting or two, and are much less invasive. Most other treatments will cost you less money but are not as comprehensive.
Dental bridges are a much less invasive procedure as the new tooth does not need to be drilled into the jawbone; it is connected between two of your natural teeth.
Bridges are a great option to replace missing teeth; however, they rely on you still having teeth surrounding the tooth you’d like to replace. So if you’re seeking out dental implants to replace many of your teeth, it’s unlikely dental bridges will be able to cut it. Dental bridges also cause damage to the enamel of the teeth securing the bridge, so you’ll be doing damage to your remaining teeth.
Dental bridges typically cost somewhere in the range of $1,500-$5,000, depending on your particular condition and the materials you choose.
Dentures are more likely to be covered by insurance than dental implants. Dentures do not provide the same natural feeling that implants do. Some people struggle to eat and speak confidently while they are getting used to dentures. With dental implants, though the recovery process is long, the teeth themselves look and feel like natural teeth.
Unfortunately, dentures don’t stimulate the jawbone in a significant way, which can cause bone reabsorption. This has the potential to alter your physical appearance with a sunken jaw.
Dentures are much less expensive than dental implants. A full set of dentures averages between $1,000 and$3,000.
A dental crown is placed over a tooth, whereas an implant is a total tooth replacement. This is an option if the whole tooth doesn’t necessitate replacement.
A dental crown can cost between $800 and $2,500 depending on your condition and what materials you choose to have your crown made of.
Veneers are more of a cosmetic treatment, whereas implants require surgery. For being a cosmetic treatment, veneers are still rather invasive (your enamel will be worn down with this procedure). This makes them a permanent commitment (unless you opt for no-prep veneers).
Veneers can range in price from $250-$2,000 per tooth, whereas dental implants range from $1,500-$6,000 per tooth. But again, these are not treating the same conditions. A veneer can cover a chipped tooth, but an implant replaces it.
Implants are not intended to be a replacement for comprehensive orthodontic treatment. These procedures treat very different conditions. Implants replace teeth, and braces/aligners move teeth. If you have a dental implant, braces and aligners will not be able to move that tooth (since it’s screwed into your jawbone). If you plan on having braces or Invisalign, check with your dentist to see if orthodontic treatment before implant placement is recommended.
Braces average about $5,000 for treatment and clear aligners can range anywhere from $1,145-$7,000 — depending on the company you choose. At-home clear aligners have changed the industry with their low prices and rapid treatment times, averaging under $2,000.
There’s a lot to think about with a procedure like dental implants, but the most important consideration for you is whether or not you can afford it. Fortunately, there are ways to make this less expensive, so be sure to explore all your options with your dentist and insurance provider.
This procedure is unlikely to become a recurring expense, and it will save you from other procedures that can pop up down the line from jawbone reabsorption. Though a significant expense in both time and money, getting dental implants can safely replace a tooth and preserve the overall health of your mouth and jaw.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the risks of dental implant surgery?
Though there is a very high success rate for dental implant surgeries, there can still be complications. Infection can be an issue, as well as potential nerve damage and gum recession.
What is the difference between an implant and a crown?
Dental crowns cover a natural tooth that doesn’t need to be removed, but an implant crown is the replacement tooth attached to an abutment (that is attached to the post screwed into your jawbone).
What are reasons bone might not fuse in an implant procedure?
Usually, this has to do with the immune system of the patient. If a patient has diabetes or an autoimmune disease, their body is busy dealing with those things and won’t build new bone as quickly as a person without those debilitating factors. Tobacco use can also cause the bone to not fuse to the implant since nicotine blocks blood flow to the gums.
Why should I replace my missing tooth?
Replacing your missing tooth can help save your jawbone from reabsorbing and potentially changing your facial appearance. It can also help your remaining teeth stay in their positions instead of drifting over into the empty space that a missing tooth left behind. Implants can also help preserve your bite and may even prevent bone loss and periodontal disease.
Can I get a veneer over my implant?
Usually, no. The glue doesn’t adhere to crowns the same way it does to the enamel of your teeth.
Can I move my dental implant with braces?
No, your dental implant cannot be moved because it is screwed into your jawbone. Consider orthodontic treatment before you have any implants placed.
Which looks more natural: dentures or implants?
Preferences with appearances are personal, but typically, people find implants to be the more natural looking of the two. Dentures sit on top of your gums, so they are a little more noticeable.
Can I use my teeth after dental implant surgeries?
Similar to getting your wisdom teeth out, you’ll want to take at least two days sticking to liquid or soft foods. Check with your dentist for advice specific to your condition.