The Cost of Dental Implants vs. Other Tooth Replacement Procedures
According to the American College of Prosthodontists, 178,000,000 Americans have at least one missing tooth. 40,000,000 have no back teeth, and a whopping 35,000,000 have no teeth at all! The unfortunate reality is that the vast majority of these people have trouble eating, talking, and even smiling because they haven’t had their missing teeth replaced. Why? If that’s you, especially if you live in or around the Big Apple, you’re probably wondering how much dental implants cost in NYC. And, if the only affordable solution for you is dentures.
Yes, the single greatest deterrent to addressing complete or partial edentulism (the condition of being toothless) is limited funds. The cost of tooth replacement, including dental implants, dentures, and bridges, can be pretty high. And while dental insurance can help to defray some out-of-pocket expenses, the fact remains that most policies place restrictions with annual maximums or even the outright exclusion of certain procedures or dentists if they are not on a list of covered procedures or participating providers.
Unfortunately, most commercially available dental insurance policies shift the bulk of financial responsibility for major dental care – including replacing lost or missing teeth – squarely onto you.
Dental Implants In Comparison To Other Tooth Replacement Procedures
Modern technology has enabled implants to replace one or more missing teeth more than even just a few years ago. However, there is a prevailing belief that implants are much more expensive than other replacement procedures. But is that really true?
The cost of dental implants may surprise you – placing and restoring a tooth with a dental implant is less than the cost of a conventional three-tooth bridge by as much as 30%.
What follows is a brief description of the two most common tooth replacement procedures, the costs associated with them, and a comparison with the cost of dental implants. Obviously, everything is not equal because not all dental practices are alike. In every city, including New York, there are boutique-type practices, insurance-based clinics, and varied types of practices in between.
For purposes of illustration, the cost comparison and fee ratios that I outline below are consistent within a given practice and are helpful as a guide when seeking potential solutions to fill one’s dental gaps.
Due to the fact that you are likely unfamiliar with more advanced dental treatments and the associated costs, I offer a financial frame of reference for procedures by comparing them to a common benchmark – in this case, the cost of a single crown. The cost comparisons in this article are illustrative of relative dollars spent on frequently requested dental care.
I use the cost of a crown as the common currency for comparison purposes. If you have a crown, you may be able to gain some perspective on the cost of dental implants vs. the cost of other procedures.
Dentures, Bridges & Crowns
- Removable DentureWhat it is: In general, a removable denture (also called a prosthesis) is the least costly technique to replace a missing tooth. Most commonly, partial dentures get their stability and ability to stay put by means of metal or plastic clasps that wrap around adjacent teeth. An upper denture generally covers the entire palate to create suction. A lower denture is horseshoe-shaped because it needs to circumvent the tongue. Lower dentures are much less stable than uppers because of the decreased surface area and movement of the tongue, cheeks and floor of the mouth during function.What it costs: Dentures are a relatively affordable treatment option to replace all the teeth in a given arch. As a point of reference, the cost of a complete set of dentures, upper and lower, could be in the range of 2-3 times the cost of a single crown. The actual fee varies widely from area to area, but I think the price ratio is consistent.
Obviously, the cost of a single crown is irrelevant if one is missing many if not all his natural teeth, but the point that I am trying to make is how the cost of tooth replacement relates to another commonly sought dental procedure.
- Permanent BridgeWhat it is: A permanent (fixed) bridge is commonly used to replace a single tooth. The dentist makes crowns for the supporting teeth (called abutments), so the bridge can connect to those teeth and straddle each side of the empty space.What it costs: The cost of permanent bridgework is not insignificant. The treatment process involves preparing the teeth for crowns, fabricating temporary bridges to protect the anchor teeth, taking impressions of the prepared teeth, and sending the impressions to a dental laboratory. For the patient, it involves several intermediate visits to the dentist for fittings and delivery of the bridgework.
The fees associated with a permanent bridge can vary between dental practices depending upon the multitude of factors that distinguish one office from another. But in general, the cost of a bridge can generally be determined by multiplying the number of teeth involved in the treatment (including the missing teeth) by the cost of a single crown.
Hence, the cost of the aforementioned three-unit bridge is approximately three times the cost of a single crown. Plus, there are potential hidden costs commonly associated with making a permanent bridge. One such example may be that one or more of the abutment (supporting) teeth might require root canal either because of pre-existing deep fillings or the process of reducing and preparing the teeth to receive the necessary crowns. There is a 15% greater chance of needing root canal in teeth prepared for bridgework vs. for a single crown.
In some instances, such as in the case of a young patient who’s missing one front tooth, a special type of permanent prosthesis called a Maryland or bonded bridge can be made. In this scenario, the supporting teeth are not prepared for crowns, and instead, wings or extensions attached to the replacement tooth are bonded to the backs of the neighboring abutment teeth. While a Maryland bridge may loosen or de-bond over time, it is an effective and economical way to offer a permanent bridge. The cost of a three-unit Maryland bridge can be a third less than one involving crowns.
- Dental ImplantWhat It Is: A dental implant is a cylindrical or tapered post generally made of commercially pure titanium or titanium alloy designed to replace the root of a single tooth. A dental implant is surgically placed where the missing tooth’s root once resided.
After a prescribed healing period, a crown (ceramic or porcelain) is placed onto the implant. And since the neighboring healthy teeth are left unadorned and intact, there is no chance of unanticipated root canal therapy and the “hidden” expense associated with it.
What It Costs: As I mentioned above, the cost of dental implants is normally less than what people anticipate. To replace and restore a tooth with a dental implant actually costs less than a conventional three-tooth bridge by as much as 30%. In fact, the cost of a dental implant is often the same as the cost of placing a crown on a healthy tooth.
Therefore, implant dentistry can actually be a more affordable approach to replacing a single tooth than any other treatment.
What’s more, the beauty of implant dentistry is its versatility. Dental implants can replace a single tooth or many teeth. Dental implants can even be strategically placed and spread apart to support a permanent bridge, so the patient doesn’t need an implant placed for each tooth that’s been replaced.
And implant dentistry is not restricted to permanent tooth replacement either. Implants are often used in conjunction with removable dentures to improve stability and comfort. For denture wearers who are struggling with discomfort and difficulty chewing due to insufficient support from the underlying bone and gum, implants are a miracle.
Recap: The Cost Of Dental Implants In NYC
In the above scenario, the additional cost of dental implants (placing two and the attachments used for anchoring) might be about two-and-a-half times the cost of a single crown.
Another benefit of dental implant therapy is that it can be staged over time, months to sometimes, years. This allows the patient to manage the costs and still end up with a stable, healthy and fully functional set of teeth. It’s worth the wait.
Ready To Get Started?
If you’ve lost one tooth or several, now’s the time to explore your options. You just may discover that the cost of dental implants in NYC is not beyond your reach!
Michael Sinkin, DDS
Michael Sinkin practices cosmetic, implant, and restorative dentistry in New York City. He is known for the wonderful care he provides to his patients and for his calming sense of humor. To contact make an appointment for a dental implant consultation, or any other dental issue, call the office at 212-685-3040. We’ll take good care of you!