A basic understanding about dental implants and the costs Involved
Teeth implants are the new generation of replacement dentistry. Unlike other forms of replacement, dental implants make use of the jaw bone structure to gain support for the replaced teeth while other forms of replacement (dental bridges) use the adjacent teeth and surrounding tissues to gain support. So, this makes dental implants a far more superior type of replacement and has no effects whatsoever on the adjacent teeth that are present in the arch.
Basic overview of implants
A dental implant is a screw that is made out of titanium or zirconia that is placed into the jaw bone. Titanium is a metal that has the property of osseointegration, which means that over time there is bone growth over the implant and the implant gets fused with the jaw bones. This implant screw forms the support for the replacement and is like the tooth root that is embedded in the jaw bones.
Over this implant screw, the tooth replacement needs to be placed. A part known as abutment is tightened into the implant screw. The abutment will rise up over the surface of the gums and is seen like a projection from the jaw bones.
This abutment will form the support for the overlying esthetic replacement of the tooth which is usually a dental crown. The crown will be made up of a tooth colored material like zirconia or porcelain fused to metal to give an esthetic appearance and will be cemented onto the abutment to hold it in place and to perform its functions effectively.
Alternatively, the implant might support a group of teeth instead of just supporting a single tooth replacement. In such cases, instead of a single crown being placed over the abutment, there will be a bridge or a denture that the abutment or a group of abutments are supporting. Read more about this in our article about the all-on-4 implants
So a standard tooth replacement procedure with dental implants consists of three stages:
- the dental implant (or implant screw)
- the abutment
- the crown
When talking about prices with your dentist, make sure that all costs are involved. Some clinics might also charge additional fees (e.g. surgery fee, etc.), make sure these extra costs are also calculated into the total price. Most clinic will give you a written treatment plan with detailed prices so that you can decide if you want to go forward with the treatment.
A short video about tooth implant costs. Duration: 2:11
Factors that affect implant costs
There are many factors that make the implant procedure more expensive than other replacement procedures. However, their efficiency in function and esthetic replacement along with convenience to the patient negate and justify the higher costs involved.
The presence of implant-supported replacements has no bearing on the longevity of the remaining teeth which might not be so for conventional replacement procedures. For this reason despite higher expenses, many people are now choosing dental implants instead of other conventional procedures for tooth replacement.
If you look at various options available for teeth implants, you will probably see that some implants available in the market are relatively cheaper while other implant brands might be much more expensive. So, this will give rise to the question that why some implants have a higher cost factor than the others and is it necessary to go in for an implant based on its costs?
While it does sound very reasonable and logical to choose the most economical brand, this might not be the best choice. Let's see why:
Bone amount and quality
Before placing an implant the implantologist will consider the amount of bone structure that is available to support the implant, the available height, the presence of vital structures, the angulations, etc.
If all factors that are being considered are very favorable, then it usually does not matter what type of implant is being chosen. In such cases, it might even be apt to look at the economy of the procedure and chose an implant based on the costs. But, in cases where factors like available bone support is not ideal, then economy of the implants should be given lesser importance and other factors should be given more importance for selecting the right type of implant for the procedure.
A lot of research goes on into improving the quality and durability of the implants. Research is also constantly on to provide better features to increase acceptance, faster healing and success of the procedure. So, this has led to manufacturers coming up with new generation implants with improved features. This has led to a price difference between various types of implants.
An implant might be more expensive because more research was made to make it more likely to succeed even under less favorable circumstances. As a result, implant failure rates might be lower for an implant that costs more.
Surface of the implant
When bone support availability is lesser or the height for placing the implant is lesser, then implants with specialized features like plasma spraying, etching, anodizing, etc are considered, as these offer a higher surface area for osseointegration than conventional implants.
Another factor that people are giving consideration while choosing better features over economy for selecting the appropriate implant is esthetics. Improved features in some implants make it possible to place them sub-crestally (just below the surface of the bone). This feature helps in providing for improved appearance of the finished crown making it appear very natural and highly esthetic.
Different costs for the same implant brand
The brand of the dental implant is only one factor that determines the price. A more significant factor is your location and the experience of the dentists.
An implant procedure will typically involve the cost of the implants and all its associated requirements in addition to the charges to be paid to the team of doctors handling the procedure. Even though the skill and experience of the specialist team of doctors might be comparable and be the same, certain factors like operational overheads and cost of living might make the fee charged in one geographical area higher than what it costs in another area.
For this reason, even though the same implant and associated requirements are being utilized, the implant procedure may be costing higher in one place than what is being charged in another place although it is not necessarily true that paying a higher price might get better treatment and vice versa.
A few examples:
- people living in a large city might pay more than people in smaller cities
- clinics in city centers usually charge more than clinics in the suburbs
- clinics outside of North America, Western Europe or Australia might charge significantly less for a tooth restoration
Actually this last factor – dental tourism – is getting more and more popular, especially in Europe. Many people travel from the UK or Ireland, Germany to countries like Hungary or Poland to save 30%-60% on their dental work.