What Do Dental Implants Cost?

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This is a loaded question as it can be answered in a variety of different ways. Of course, the tendency in marketing these treatments is to provide the consumer with a “teaser” price to get them to come in for a consultation. We will try to simplify the answer so that after reading this section you will have a pretty decent understanding of what the real answer of this question.

First we need to define the terminology:

Dental Implant
The titanium, threaded implant that is placed in the jaw bone. Many patients believe the implant is the entire process. This is a common misunderstanding and is what leads to the confusion about cost. Some offices only place the implant in bone (periodontists, oral surgeons and endodontists). So, when contacting those offices they will only be able to provide a patient with the surgical cost, not the abutment and implant crown.

Abutment
An implant abutment is the intermediate piece that holds the implant crown to the implant. Nearly 100% of the time an abutment is necessary. They are made of titanium or ceramic. Only when a one-piece implant (implant and abutment together) is used can the abutment be avoided. In most instances this is ill advised as this technique dramatically limits the restorative options for the crown and future use of the implant if the patients losses additional teeth.

Implant Crown
This is the only part of the process that the patient is interested in, from the start. The replacement for the missing tooth is the actual implant crown. It is the last piece of the implant process. It can be made of porcelain, porcelain fused to metal or all metal depending on the area of the mouth and the functional demands of the patient. People who grind or clench their teeth are at much higher risk for porcelain fracture. Therefore, in non-cosmetic areas of the mouth it may be recommended that the implant crown be all metal.

Now that we have a general understanding of the terminology, discussing the cost will be much, more simple. There are other factors that influence the cost of the process:

Education and Training
In the dental industry, it is very easy to believe you are purchasing a product instead of a service. Many patients believe they are purchasing a “dental implant” not the “surgical placement” of the dental implant. Placing a dental implant in the jaw bone is a very technically challenging procedure. We often have less than 7 millimeters (9/32nds of an inch) of bone into which we place the implant. The oral cavity is very small and there are obstacles like the tongue, other teeth, the cheeks and the lips in the way. The dental implant must be placed very precisely in that 7 mm of bone so that the final crown or bridge will look exactly like the tooth it is replacing. To do it well takes preparation and practice. Dental specialists go to school for an additional three years after dental school. Specialists have already done many implant cases before they enter private practice. They have collaborated with other specialists, had guidance by their instructors and have logged close to 10,000 additional hours of education and practice to improve their skills.

Education and training are the main reason that a specialist’s fees will be higher than a general dentist. This is completely justifiable as the additional time and education should provide the patient with a better outcome. In almost any service industry the more experience and education a technician or an employee has the higher the hourly rate of the service. A car dealership will charge the customer an extremely high rate for a “service” but the well-experienced mechanic will be paid much more than brand new mechanic out of school.

Regional Influences
Of course the cost of doing business varies by region. Dental implant cost will also vary.

Type of Dental Implant
Manufacturer’s prices vary by $300 per implant. Rarely is this difference passed on to the consumer. Again, the consumer is paying for the “service” not the implant. One particular area of implant dentistry that should be explained is the “mini-implant”. There are many practices that only place mini dental implants. Mini implants should have a limited scope in implant dentistry but are often overused in these type practices as they are much less costly and much less complicated to place. Therefore, in a practice that only does mini implants you will be quoted prices that seem too good to be true. As the saying goes, it probably is! The term “mini-implant” is accurate. Mini implants range from 1.8 mm to 2.6 mm. While these implants are very acceptable for small teeth, like upper lateral incisors and lower incisors, they are not appropriate for the larger teeth that have much higher functional requirements. Mini implants are also very good for some people who could benefit from implant overdentures. Buyer beware!

Implant Crown Quality
The range of skill level in the dental laboratory industry is as wide as you could ever imagine. This market is kept in check by supply and demand. Very good labs may charge the dentist as much as $750 per crown. Very poor labs will charge as little as $85 per crown. You can certainly see why the prices vary so much. The quality of the crown fabrication may be the most important part of the entire process. Success or failure often hinges on how beautiful the final crown appears in the mouth. In most instances the patient expects perfection. This is a very crucial step in the process.
Guarantee: Respectable offices should offer a guarantee with all treatment unless other arrangements are made. This will increase cost, also. There is a reason that “extended service contracts” are tacked on to the cost of the item purchased.

Guarantee
Respectable offices should offer a guarantee with all treatment unless other arrangements are made. This will increase cost, also. There is a reason that “extended service contracts” are tacked on to the cost of the item purchased.

Costs

Dental Implant: $350 to $4000+. Again, this seems like a huge range and the reasons are explained above. In general, in Dallas, you will see average ranges from $1500 to $2500. This range includes only regular diameter implants (3.5 mm to 6.0 mm).

Abutments: $250 to $850. The range here depends on the type of abutment used. A standard abutment is purchased by the dentist from the company. A custom abutment must be made “custom” for that particular patient and that particular tooth. The average charge for an abutment is $450.

Implant Crown: $1000-$2000.

These are general ranges for Dallas, Texas. If your quote for treatment is outside these ranges you should ask why or seek a second and third opinion. Because the average cost of the products is similar it is difficult to justify any totals exceeding these ranges.

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