Dental implants can be an expensive but worthwhile investment for replacing missing teeth. The national average cost for a single implant is $2,000-$4,000. For those without dental insurance or with limited coverage, the costs may seem prohibitive. However, there are ways to reduce expenses and make implants more budget-friendly.
What Are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are small titanium posts surgically inserted into the jawbone to replace missing tooth roots. After the jawbone fuses to the implant in a process called osseointegration, abutments and replacement teeth can be attached to complete the restoration.
Benefits of dental implants include:
- Look and feel like natural teeth
- Preserve jawbone by preventing bone loss
- Allow you to eat normally without difficulty
- May last a lifetime with proper care
Compared to alternatives like dentures and bridges, implants offer superior function, comfort and aesthetics. But the upfront cost is higher, making insurance coverage and financial planning key.
Does Insurance Cover Dental Implants?
Unfortunately, regular dental insurance often provides limited or no coverage for implants. While plans may cover basic implant procedures like extractions and bone grafts, the implants themselves are frequently excluded or have low annual maximum benefits.
However, options for insurance coverage include:
Get a Better Dental Plan
Some employer dental plans and private insurers offer upgraded options with higher annual maximums, lower deductibles, or benefits specifically for implants.
Use an FSA or HSA
A healthcare flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) allows you to set aside pre-tax money to pay healthcare expenses, including dental. This helps offset costs.
Check if Medical Insurance Could Apply
In rare cases, medical insurance may cover some implant costs if there is a medical necessity like reconstructive surgery after cancer treatment or accident trauma.
Enroll in a Dental Discount Plan
Dental savings plans provide discounted rates on procedures, including implants, at participating providers. The monthly fees are usually under $100.
Tips to Save on Dental Implant Costs
Beyond insurance, here are some proven ways to reduce the cost of dental implants:
Shop Around for Quotes
Costs can vary greatly between dentists. Get quotes from several providers to find affordable options.
Ask About Discounts
Many dentists offer new patient specials, senior discounts, cash/check discounts, etc. It never hurts to ask!
Get Multiple Implants at Once
If you need several implants, having the procedures done together saves significantly on surgical and anesthesia fees.
Choose a Dental School
Dental schools can perform implants for 30-50% less than private practices. Care is supervised by experienced faculty.
Travel to Save
Certain countries, like Mexico, Costa Rica, and Thailand, have high-quality dentistry for far less. Just do your research.
Use 0% Financing
Payment plans from CareCredit and others allow interest-free monthly payments to be paid over time.
Have a Tooth Extracted vs. Root Canal
It’s cheaper to extract and replace with an implant than to pay for a root canal plus an implant.
Ask About Implant Warranties
Some dentists provide lifetime replacement warranties if the implant fails, protecting your investment.
Creative Ways to Reduce Dental Implant Costs
In addition to traditional discounts and financing, some creative strategies can help minimize expenses:
Offer to trade your skills/services to the dental office in exchange for discounted treatment.
Look for Clinical Trials
Research facilities may offer reduced cost or free implants to test new products and techniques.
Inquire About Dental Residencies
Advanced residents can place implants for much less under faculty supervision at universities.
Apply for Financial Assistance
Some nonprofits and patient advocacy groups have programs to assist with costs for those in need.
Join a Membership Plan
In-office savings plans provide implant procedures at reduced rates for members paying monthly fees.
Politely discuss if any wiggle room is possible in the dental office’s implant pricing.
Get a Second Opinion
Compare opinions from dentists to be sure implants are required for your situation vs. other options.
Questions to Ask About Insurance
If you have dental insurance, make sure to ask these key questions to understand your implant benefits:
Does my plan cover implants?
Get specifics. Some insurance excludes implants entirely, while others cover portions.
What’s my annual maximum for implants?
Most insurers limit implant coverage to $500-$1,500 annually. Know the cap.
Is there a waiting period for implants?
Plans may require you to be insured 6-12 months before implant benefits activate.
Do I need pre-approval or referrals?
Some insurers require pre-approval and specialist referrals for implants.
Is bone grafting covered if needed?
Bone grafting is often required prior to implants, but it is not always covered.
What procedure codes do I need to submit?
Ask for the implant procedure codes to properly file insurance claims.
While dental insurance is limited, innovative savings options exist to reduce the cost of dental implants. Comparing quotes, negotiating fees, using financing, traveling abroad for treatment, and enrolling in dental savings plans can all help make implants more affordable.
Thoroughly researching the expenses, insurance coverage, discounts available, and payment arrangements in advance allows you to strategically plan for this important dental investment in your long-term oral health and smile.
Dental Implant Insurance FAQ
Does dental insurance cover implants?
Most dental insurance only covers a small portion of implant costs, if at all. Some plans exclude implants completely, while others have annual limits of $1,000-$1,500 or less.
Is dental implant insurance worth it?
Given the limited coverage dental insurance provides for implants, a dental savings plan may make more financial sense to reduce out-of-pocket costs.
Can I use my FSA or HSA for implants?
Yes, you can use money from a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) to pay for dental implants and associated costs.
Does medical insurance cover implants?
In very rare cases, medical insurance may cover implants deemed medically necessary, such as after cancer surgery. But coverage is limited.
Can I finance dental implants?
Yes, many dental offices offer third-party financing programs or in-house payment plans to allow you to pay for implants over 6-24 months with low or no interest.
How much does a dental implant cost with insurance?
For a single implant, your out-of-pocket cost with insurance may still be $1,200-$3,000 on average depending on your plan’s coverage terms.
Are dental implant costs tax deductible?
In general, no. But if implants are medically required due to illness or injury, the IRS may allow you to include them with other deductible medical expenses.
In another related article, Can Invisalign Be Covered by Dental Insurance? What You Need to Know