Dental implant surgery is a popular procedure that replaces missing teeth with natural-looking, custom-made roots (the actual implant) and teeth (the crowns or denture that is fitted over the implant posts).
Unfortunately, bringing back a beautiful smile with dental implants is costly. Dental insurance doesn’t cover cosmetic procedures – and implants are considered cosmetic. And even one implant costs thousands of dollars. But there are insurance alternatives that make dental implants more affordable.
What are Dental implants?
Dental implants are replacement tooth roots. A titanium post, which is surgically inserted into the jawbone, replicates the root of a tooth – your dentist will make sure that the artificial post is securely fused with your jawbone before he restores your teeth with dental implants. Over several months of healing, the post typically fuses with the jawbone. When it is fully healed, the dentist will check to make sure it is strong enough to support an artificial tooth, called a crown or several teeth, like a bridge or dentures.
Advantages of Dental Implants
If you are considering dental implants for yourself, there are a slew of advantages for getting the treatment. The main reason dental implants are popular is because of the aesthetic value it brings to facial features and smile. Dental implants look and feel like your own teeth and become a permanent solution for folks who have lost one or more teeth. If you have lost several teeth, your speech may have been affected because without teeth, certain consonant and vowel sounds may be restricted. With dentures, the plate piece can slip due to poor fitting issues, whereas dental implants are fused with your own bone to provide a more comfortable result. It’s easier to eat with dental implants and they can help improve your overall dental health.
Most importantly, since dental implants become part of the mouth’s bone structure, implants can help to retain bone strength and mass. Traditional dentures can cause in shrinkage of the mouth’s supporting bone structure over time.
Guide to Dental Implant Cost
How do you find the most affordable dental procedures and get the best quality of treatment? Sure, you can search the internet for the best price on dental treatments, but it can be challenging to find the best estimate for your specific dental implant needs without actually having a dentist look at your teeth. You can contact several dentists to inquire about quotes for implants, but again, the dentist will most likely want to see you in his or her chair before quoting the cost. But to give you an idea, according to DentalImplantCostGuide.com, in the United States, the average cost for dental implants ranges between $1,000 and $5,000. Additional procedures such as X-rays, tooth extraction and – if necessary – bone grafts add to the cost.
No Dental Insurance – Now What?
Don’t fret, if you don’t currently have dental insurance. Like many cosmetic procedures, dental implants are not covered by most dental insurance plans, if there is a cheaper way to restore missing teeth. And virtually all insurance plans do not cover teeth that were missing before you purchased the insurance plan.
If you are looking for a dental insurance that covers everything, an indemnity insurance plan is your best bet, but make sure you ask about dental implant coverage before signing up. Ask the provider to give you a clear understanding of what your insurance provider considers to be “reasonable” and “customary” costs with indemnity insurance and inquire about the waiting period required for dental implants. Some insurance coverage can require an up to 12 months waiting period before they cover selected procedures. Most dental insurance providers will require you to obtain an estimate before you begin any expensive dental treatments treatment, which helps ensure that you know, up front, what the dental insurance will pay and what you will be responsible to pay out of pocket.
You may also wish to consider the alternative to traditional dental insurance, a dental savings plan. These plans offer discounts of 10-60% on dental care at a nationwide network of providers.
Paying for Dental Implants
Aetna developed Vital Savings Plans to help uninsured and underinsured people easily access quality, affordable dental care. As you weigh the pros and cons of dental insurance coverage and receive quotes from dentists for dental implants, remember that traditional dental insurance rarely covers cosmetic services, which includes dental implants. But dental savings plans often do provide savings of 20%-60% on all dental services, including cosmetic treatments. Dental savings plans have no annual caps on spending – unlike insurance plans which limit coverage to $1,000 to $1,500 a year – no waiting period before you can access care, and no restrictions on getting the care you need for preexisting conditions, such as missing teeth.