A missing tooth can affect your confidence as much as your ability to enjoy your food. Finding the best way to replace a missing tooth can be difficult as some options, like dentures, can be inconvenient or uncomfortable depending on your lifestyle. Fortunately there are more comfortable and convenient solutions.
Dental implants are an excellent option to complete your smile, restoring both the functionality and appearance of your teeth. However, because they do such a great job of filling in your smile, they aren’t always cheap. By equipping yourself with an understanding of how to pay for implants, you can take the steps needed to budget for your treatment to make it affordable.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are a semi-permanent method to fill in large gaps in your smile by replacing missing teeth. Implants are titanium posts that are surgically implanted into the jawbone. These posts are then topped with a piece called an abutment, which provides support for artificial teeth, like a crown or a bridge. The artificial teeth are fitted and formed to provide a replacement that matches your bite for maximum comfort and functionality.
The installation of implants is usually done in three parts. First, the implant is inserted into the bone. Then, the abutment is added. And lastly, the crown is placed. This process can take several months as the bone needs to heal after the implant placement. Other steps may be needed depending on your case, like orthodontics or bone grafting. Bone grafting supports bone growth to improve the foundation of the jawbone.
Everyone is different, so the timeline may vary depending on your specific needs. Your dentist can provide more insight into your possible treatment plan.
What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants?
Implants can provide an improved quality of life and dental health to someone who has lost teeth. Many people choose implants over other options for replacing missing teeth because of their easy maintenance and durable construction. As one of the most comprehensive solutions to missing teeth, implants have several benefits:
- They are like real teeth – With implants, you can avoid stress while eating. Implants provide full chewing capability, so you can eat what you want. Implants also look and act the same as real teeth, which means no one will be able to tell, and you do not have to do any additional maintenance.
- They are durable – Implants are inserted into the bone, and the crown is set sturdy onto the titanium post. This makes them more durable than dentures and bridges. As long as you take care of them, they can endure quite a bit.
- They can prevent bone loss – After losing a tooth, the jaw bone starts to deteriorate in that space since it is not being used. The implant stimulates the area to support bone growth. By preventing bone loss, the implant also keeps the surrounding teeth supported and stops them from shifting.
- They can last a lifetime – Options like bridges and dentures only last around 10 years at best. Implants, however, can be a permanent solution if taken care of properly. It is important to practice good dental hygiene to keep them and the surrounding gums clean and free from damage.
How To Pay for Dental Implants
Clearly, dental implants have a long list of benefits and provide an excellent option for replacing a missing tooth, especially compared to the alternatives, like dentures and bridges. However, this superior quality also leads to a higher price tag. If you are considering implants, then you need to have a plan regarding how to pay for them. Fortunately, you do have a few options.
Dental insurance is the primary way that most people pay for implants. With a good insurance plan, you can receive help paying for a large portion of your dental plan. However, keep in mind that not all primary insurance plans cover dental procedures. In fact, many of them don’t. Whether you have an employer plan or private insurance, dental is considered a supplemental type of insurance.
Check your plan coverage to see if you are supported for dental procedures and for implants. Implants can also fall under the area of “prosthodontics”, so look through your policy to see whether you are covered.
If you did not add a dental plan when you signed up for your primary insurance, you might not be covered. In the event that your insurance provider does not offer dental plans, you can search for supplemental plans that provide dental coverage in addition to your primary plan.
Once you know that you have coverage, be sure to check your annual maximum coverage on your dental plan. Your insurance may not cover the entire cost of an implant if the price exceeds your plan maximum. If you have any questions, you can contact your provider.
Medicare Advantage plans can help cover dental procedures for individuals with a disability or over the age of 65 who qualify for standard Medicare. These plans are provided by private companies to boost the benefits and coverage of Medicare plans.
It is important to note that Medicare Part A and Part B do not include dental. In order to obtain coverage, you need to make sure that you have Medicare Advantage with a supplemental dental insurance plan. Similar to private and employer-run insurance plans, Medicare Advantage plans do not all cover dental by default. Make sure that you chose a plan that covers dental expenses.
If you do not have Medicare Advantage or a plan that includes dental, you can sign up or change your current Medicare plan during the fall enrollment process between October and December.
The last option is to pay out-of-pocket. However, not everyone can afford to pay the costs up front. On the bright side, some dentists offer payment plans to allow you to split up the cost of implants. This could enable you to make payments on the procedure throughout a set number of months. Talk to your dentist’s office to see if this is an option for you.
Other dental offices may have a financial partner that offers financing through a dental credit card. This is another opportunity to split up your payments over the course of a few months. Similar to a credit card, though, you will have to pay interest on your purchase, so keep that in mind while considering your options.
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Altogether, implants are probably the best way to repair your smile and fill in gaps, but it is important to budget for the expense. Fortunately, there are several payment options that can make your treatment more affordable. Talk to your dentist to determine whether implants are a good choice for you. If they are, get a proper quote from your provider and start planning for the expenses.