A Patient's Perspective - Why Are Dental Implants So Expensive?

Written by Heather Siler

When considering a dental implant, you may have experienced some sticker shock if you’re not aware of what’s involved in the process. Three pieces are normally used in the entire implant procedure, and they include the fixture, the abutment, and the restoration (crown). Even if your insurance covers implants and restorations(crowns), the average fees can range from $2500- to $5000 for the completed project. With most plans maxing out at $1500-$2000, you can be left with a pretty hefty remainder. 

First of all, the implant itself consists of two segments which are the fixture and the abutment, and because it’s considered a surgical event, it’s usually performed by a  periodontist or an oral surgeon. The fixture is screwed into the bone where it becomes integrated and acts as the root of the tooth. The abutment protrudes from the gumline and serves to secure and support the restoration (crown). Sometimes the specialist positions the abutment, and sometimes it’s placed by your dentist. The fixture and abutment are made of titanium as a result of it being a lightweight, strong, and long-lasting metal. Titanium is the choice of metal because the implant is a prosthesis that’s integrated inside of the body, and therefore, must be medical grade. The fee for the fixture and abutment varies between $1500-$3000.

The third portion of an implant is the restoration (crown) and is usually performed by your dentist after the implant has been established for a designated period. As soon as the specialist gives the clearance,  it’s time to fabricate a crown on top of the abutment so that the “tooth” is functional in your mouth. An implant crown is usually more expensive than a regular crown because your dentist may have to purchase special materials and instruments to install it properly. The cost of the restoration (crown) of a single implant can be anywhere from $1200-$2000.

There are some other factors to examine when thinking about an implant because, at times, surgeries such as a bone graft or a sinus lift are necessary to ensure a successful outcome. A bone graft is required on the lower jaw and upper anterior jaw when there’s insufficient bone to support an implant. Cadaver or synthetic bone is normally used, and the price varies from $500-$3000. A sinus lift can be mandatory on the upper jaw in the posterior if the bone is inadequate or if the sinuses are low and encroaching on the bone. The sinus is “lifted” to make room for bone to be inserted between the upper jaw and the sinus cavity. The charge of a sinus lift fluctuates between $500-$3,000. As with the bone graft, cadaver or artificial bone is commonly used. Additional expenses you may incur are radiographs and occasionally, a CT scan.

Although typically uneventful, an implant is a complex surgical method usually including a specialist and your general dentist. Years and years of education and experience go into the whole operation, and you’ll want clinicians who are proven to deliver excellent results. Although in reading this blog, it may seem that the bottom line can be upwards of $8000. However, the entire price of an implant and restoration is generally between $2500-$5000. Price discrepancies depend on where you live and if the additional surgeries are required