Why are dental implants so expensive?

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November 22, 2021

Dental implants have opened a new realm of treatment options for replacing the missing teeth hassle-free. As compared to the earlier limited conventional options of teeth replacement, dental implants present a fresh, new, more convenient, high tech and long-lasting treatment option to replace missing teeth. Initially, when certain aesthetic dental procedures are new and not many are aware of them, it is always difficult to mentally prepare yourself for such treatments. Mostly everyone with missing teeth was hesitant about dental implants as their replacement option.

But the last decade has seen a steep rise in the placement of dental implants due to better results and newer advances in implant design. Still, there is a section of society that still feels that implants are not an affordable treatment option. Let’s have a detailed look at the steps involved in dental implant procedure and analyze by ourselves if dental implants are really that cost worthy?

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1) Prior investigations are a must!

“Measure twice but cut once” …is what the old adage says. Implants are much more than simply putting a screw in a bone. The human jaw bone is such a complex structure housing many vital anatomical landmarks. Thus, to avoid even slight misplacement of implants, prior 3-dimensional dental scans called CBCT are an absolute pre-requisite. Since the jaw bone is a 3-dimensional structure a 2-dimensional dental x-ray will not suffice. CBCT or dental scans are a bit expensive as compared to in-house dental x-rays but owing to its indispensable role in the planning of the implant procedure it is absolutely worth the expense! Also, dental scans are required only during the initial phase of treatment planning.

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2) Single v/s multiple implants

A single implant is the most basic procedure and has yielded successful results over the years. Now, the cost of the single implant can vary according to the different companies of the implant. At times, even though it’s a single implant the size and width of the implant may be available with only a few companies. Also, the crown or cap which is placed on the implant screw at the final stage can be different according to the site in the mouth and depending upon the patient’s preference. Thus, the cost of a single implant can fluctuate accordingly.

On the flip side, multiple implants are a different story. The requirement of implant placement depends upon the number of missing teeth. There is this misconception that number of teeth missing is equal to the number of implants. But, that’s not true. For instance, if a patient has 3 or 4 missing teeth, still the number of implants required may be only 2. A fixed prosthesis or a bridge is then designed with additional caps between two implants. But then the entire cost is calculated as a number of implants placed and the dummy teeth or caps which cover the entire edentulous span. Every patient presents with a different clinical feature and requires meticulous planning that fits into the patient’s requirement and hence the expenses differ accordingly.

3) Dentures with implants!

Traditionally, a senior person with no teeth had the only option of dentures. By the time, the person decides to get a denture done the jaw bone has already lost its health. As a result, the denture fails to sit properly and is loose. Thus, it is observed that after some years only a handful of seniors continue using dentures. But now, the denture can be fabricated over an implant. The upper and lower jaw receives 4 or 6 implants depending upon the requirement and either a fixed type or removable type denture can be fabricated over it. The implants serve as a tooth-like structure and provide excellent grip to the dentures. In such cases, the total cost of implant naturally will include the number of implants and the dentures.

4) Whether you need a bone graft

Not many people are still aware of the changes that the jaw bone undergoes after tooth removal. After tooth removal within 4-6 months the jaw bone shrinks in height and width. There is also a considerable loss in the volume of the jaw bone. Considering all these factors the site in the jaw bone where the implant is to be placed needs some additional preparations. In order to induce bone fill, there is something called a ‘bone graft’ which needs to be placed so that the bone has sufficient height and volume and the implant is more stable at the site. These additional preparations come with an additional cost too but the post-operative results are overwhelming!

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5) Placement of dental implants is a team work

There are certain complicated cases like a patient requiring full mouth dental implants or another patient where proximity to vital structures like nerves, blood vessels, or sinus floor is an issue, where expert intervention is required. An expert dental surgeon is one like an oral surgeon or a periodontist (gum specialist) who has experience in handling such difficult cases. Also, there are a few standard laboratories known to fabricate the crown or cap on an implant. Thus, while framing a cost of an implant even these factors have a huge influence and accordingly, the charges are included in the total cost of an implant.

6) Multiple visits

The entire procedure i.e from treatment planning to implant placement to final cap cementation requires anywhere between 2-6 months. Since implants are nothing but foreign objects grafted in the body, our body needs some time to integrate and adapt to them. Meanwhile, there are a number of visits to check the integration of dental implants in the jaw bone through dental x-rays. So, the whole cost of a single or multiple implants is expensive because it includes this number of visits too.

Dental implant cost in India

The cost of dental implants in India is comparatively very less to that of cost in the developed countries like the USA, UK, UAE, etc. But the quality of implants and the service rendered in India is much more reliable and affordable too. Hence, citizens from these countries prefer to get their dental implants treatment done from India. This is usually termed dental tourism. The dental implants are basically made up of titanium metal, which allows steady bone growth around the implant. Another recent innovation is zirconia material and has promising results too. Thus, the cost may differ according to the material too. Also, there are more than 100 companies of dental implants in the market in India and abroad. The cost of the implant varies according to the company or brand of implant. Few popular companies of dental implants are-

  • Korean company- Ossteum
  • Israeli company-Adin
  • Swiss/American company- Nobel BioCare, Straumann

Finally,

Even though the dental implant is an in-house treatment, it’s a minor oral surgical procedure. Thus, the treatment cost of such a surgical procedure is framed considering all the above-mentioned factors. People never question a minor operative procedure performed in the operation theatre since it’s a surgery after all. But, it’s time to remodel our thinking and ask an honest question to ourselves bearing all the above factors that are dental implants really that expensive?

Highlights

  • Quality dental care is never cheap and dental implants not just improve the function but the overall quality of our life.
  • Similar to surgical team of doctors, dental implant placement is also a team work.
  • The cost of dental implants varies according to the type of implants being used, number of implants required and the company or brand of the implant used by your dentist.
  • The treatment cost of implant includes the cost of an implant, total number of visits, laboratory charges and the surgery charges.
  • The expense of a dental implant is totally worth as compared to the difference it makes in people’s lives in terms of better oral and general health, being able to socialize more and overall lift in quality of life.

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Dr Priyanka Bansode has completed her BDS from the prestigious Nair Hospital & Dental College, Mumbai. She has also completed her Post Graduate Fellowship in Microdentistry from Government Dental College, Mumbai and a Post Graduate Dip. In Forensic Science & Related Laws from Mumbai University. Dr Priyanka has a vast and a diverse experience of 11 years in clinical dentistry and has maintained her private practice of 7 years in Pune. She is keenly involved in community oral health and has been part of various diagnostic dental camps, attended several National & State Dental conferences and is an active member of many social organisations. Dr Priyanka was awarded the ‘Swayam siddha Puraskar’ by the Lion’s Club, Pune in 2018 on the eve of International Women’s Day. She believes in creating an awareness on oral health through her blogs.
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