If you are missing a tooth or even multiple teeth, you might be self-conscious about your smile. And you may be wondering about options for getting those missing teeth replaced. One of the best options for replacing missing teeth is dental implants, but dental implants can be extremely expensive, and may seem out of reach for most people’s financial situations.
If this sounds familiar, don’t worry! You’re certainly not alone. In fact, according to the American College of Prosthodontists, 40 million Americans are missing all of their teeth, and many more are missing at least one tooth. And many Americans find ways to get quality dental implants.
In this article, we’ll fill you in on important dental implant information, like:
- The dental implant process
- The cost of dental implants
- How to find cheaper dental implants
Dental implant process
We can’t very well talk about dental implants if we don’t know what they are. When many people hear the term dental implant, they think of the artificial tooth that you can see. But the implant actually refers to the metal screw (normally titanium) that is inserted into the jawbone, or in some cases under the gums, meant to replace the root of a real tooth. Then, an abutment is attached to the top of the screw. And then the artificial tooth (crown) is attached to the abutment. So there are three parts to a dental implant: screw, abutment, and crown.
The process for getting an implant is not something that can be done in a day–as you’ll see below, there’s a brand called Teeth in a Day, but when you consider all of the necessary steps to take before actually getting your implant, this is quite a misnomer.
For most people, the implant process includes:
- Consultation with your dental professional to make sure you are a candidate
- Extraction of teeth if necessary
- Potential bone graft or sinus lift surgery
- Placement of implant, followed by healing process
- Abutment installment
- Dental impressions are taken to create the crown
- Fitting of the actual crown
If you are a patient that requires surgery and extra time to heal, this process could even take up to a year!
How much do dental implants cost?
Let’s talk about money since this is most likely the main reason why you haven’t gotten your missing teeth replaced. The cost of dental implants can vary greatly, being dependent on a variety of factors, including but not limited to:
- Gum condition
- Jaw bone density
- If surgery is needed
- How many implants you need
- Upper or lower jaw implants
- Type of implant
- Where you go
That being said, on average, a single dental implant in the United States can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000.
So where can you find the cheapest implants in the US? According to a survey released by Wallethub earlier this year, the states with the lowest dental treatment costs are:
And the states with the highest treatment costs are:
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
A brief internet search confirms these reports with a single traditional implant in Alabama starting at $1,600, and a mini implant (yes, that’s an option!) starting at just $800. And on the other side of the scale, you have Connecticut, with implants starting at $2,500 for traditional.
Of course, cost shouldn’t be the only thing you consider when searching for affordable implants, especially if you consider that three of the states with the cheapest dental care also fall into the top ten states with the worst dental health!
What are the best dental Implants?
The best dental implant for you will depend on your individual needs, and what you’re able to pay, but let’s go over some options to help sort this out. Have a look at the following types of dental implants and the different materials available:
- Endosteal implant: Inserted directly into the jawbone; can be used to support one or more artificial teeth with abutments.
- Subperiosteal implant: An implant with a metal base, inserted under the gum tissue but above the jawbone; used with patients with less jawbone density.
- Titanium: Most common material used, and considered the best because it’s strong and biocompatible with your bone.
- Zirconia: Common alternative to titanium; made with metal and ceramic
- Implant bridge: Two implants are used to support a row of three or four artificial teeth.
- All-on-4 implants: Just four implants are used to replace a full arch of missing teeth.
- Immediate Load dental implants: Also called same-day implants or Teeth in a Day. You can have a temporary tooth fitted during the same day as your implant appointment. This way you aren’t walking around with a gap until you can get your permanent artificial tooth fitted.
- Mini dental implants: MDIs have much smaller roots, and are therefore less invasive, cheaper and better for those with less jawbone density.
The last three types of implants mentioned—All-on-4, Immediate Load, and Mini dental implants are alternative methods to traditional dental implants, and All-on-4 and Teeth in a Day are the most popular brand names available for these types of implants.
How to find cheap dental implants
In order to find affordable dental implants, there are some things you’ll want to make sure you do, before committing to a certain clinic or procedure:
Your regular dentist may not offer you the cheapest options, so make sure to check out all your options. Talk with difference clinics, and find out what’s included in the price they quote you. You’ll want to know if that price includes things like consultations, x-rays, dental impressions, surgeries if needed, materials, medication, follow-up visits.
All-on-4 or minis
If you need a full set of new teeth, it will definitely be worth your while to get All-on-4 implants (mentioned above). While a full mouth of individual implants can cost up to $50,000 per arch, you can get All-on-4 implants for $15,000 per arch. Also, if you are eligible, mini implants are quite a bit cheaper than traditional implants; these are usually only used on the lower jaw.
You may find that the monthly premium is worth it if your plan covers part of your implant costs.
Dental implants from a dental school
If you live in a city, chances are there’s a dental school around. Many dental schools over free dental implants, and other dental work, to low-income individuals. They do this so their undergraduates can gain real experience treating patients. If this sounds sketchy, it really isn’t! These are students who are just months away from being on their own and are always supervised by a licensed professional.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research sometimes conducts clinical trials for dental implants. If this interests you, go to their page and check to see if there is a clinical trial coming up that you might be interested in participating in for free.
Dental loans: A dental loan lets you borrow the money upfront that you need to pay for your implants, and then you repay the loan in installments over a certain period of time. It’s important to approach loans with plenty of caution; make sure you will be able to pay it back within the designated amount of time, or your interest rates are likely to skyrocket.
Since implants and dental work, in general, is so expensive in the United States, many countries cater to Americans to provide low-cost implants, but for the same quality or better as you would receive in the US. Some people save 50 to 75% on their dental implants, while also enjoying a relaxing vacation after the procedure. Some of the most popular places for US citizens to travel to for dental implants include Mexico and Costa Rica. In Mexico, the average cost of a dental implant is around $870, while in Costa Rica, you can get an implant for $800. If you’re looking to go a bit further, you may want to consider Thailand, where the average cost is $1,350, or Hungary or Poland, where implants cost $740 and $890, respectively.
If the idea of getting dental work abroad makes you nervous, it really shouldn’t. Back when dental tourism was just beginning, places like Mexico earned a bad reputation, because con artists took advantage of the situation and offered too-cheap low-quality dental work. But now, dental clinics abroad know that they’ll only keep receiving clients from the US if they offer topnotch dental work, and receive glowing reviews from their clients.
Just make sure to do your research before choosing a clinic, and follow the additional tips outlined here.
So, if you are thinking about getting dental implants, but are deterred by the high costs, there are definitely some options you can consider. Check to see if your dental insurance will cover part of the cost, or check out the local dental school to see if they offer free treatment. Or if you could really use a vacation, consider a dental vacation, and spend your days after treatment recuperating on the beach!