When you lose a tooth (or teeth), the pain you feel isn’t just from the missing tooth. There’s also the pain of knowing what to do next. Should I get it replaced? How do I go about getting it replaced? And is it worth the cost?
Before you know it, you’re lost down a rabbit hole of uncertainty and confusion.
If you’ve already started your tooth replacement research journey, you’ve probably looked into dental implants as an option. Your dentist may have even suggested it as a treatment. And they’re certainly a great choice. Dental implants are hard wearing, long lasting, and look natural.
Unfortunately, they’re also expensive.
We can’t hide the fact that dental implants are pricey, and that the cost of getting them is a major barrier for a lot of people. But we can help you understand why the price tag is so high so you decide whether it’s the best treatment option for you.
In our dental implants cost guide we’ll cover:
- what they are
- how they’re fitted
- the cost of dental implants in Australia
- variables that influence that cost
- whether your private health insurance will cover the cost of dental implants.
Dental implants explained
Dental implants are a type of dental restoration procedure that’s done in two parts. The first part involves fitting a titanium screw into the jawbone. This is the implant, and it does the same job as a natural tooth’s root. Once the implant is in place the second part of the procedure is performed, namely placing a natural-looking ceramic crown on top of the implant.
From the initial consultation to placing the final crown there are at least four appointments, spaced out over three to six months. This not only allows enough healing time after each part of the procedure, but also keeps the in-chair time manageable for you.
We’ll look at other variables that affect how long it takes to fit an implant shortly. But the main thing to remember is that at the end of the treatment you’ll have a long-lasting dental implant that looks and feels like your natural teeth, and works just as well.
Here’s some more information about dental implants and how they’re different to other restorative dental options.
The cost of dental implants in Australia
Because dental implants are expensive, it’s a treatment you’ll usually only find offered in private practices. As independent businesses, practices set their own fees. This means the cost of getting dental implants in Australia varies widely from state to state, and even from practice to practice.
To help us understand dental implant fees—and the costs of other common dental work—the Australian Dental Association (ADA) runs a fee survey every year. This gives us the lowest and highest dental costs in Australia for different treatments, as well as the mean fee for each one.
According to the 2020 ADA Fees Survey, the lowest price for an implant is $3,049, and the highest is $7,175. As you can see, that’s quite a range. These costs are for a single implant, and only include the cost for the main components and procedures for:
- the implant fixture (the screw-like implant)
- the crown that sits on top of the fixture
- the cost of inserting the abutment.
The cost of the dental implant treatment you need may be more or less than this due to:
- extra consultations
- the practice’s individual process for prepping and fitting implants
- additional procedures such as bone grafting and/or tissue regeneration.
Add these up, and the realistic estimate for a single dental implant grows to around $6,000–$8,000.
For a full explanation of dental implant costs at Keppel Dental, download our implant cost guide.
Six factors that affect the fee
The path to getting dental implants isn’t the same for everyone. So when talking about dental implant costs, we need to emphasise that personal treatment plans are essential to understanding the total investment. A dentist looks at several factors before fitting the actual implant, all of which can affect the overall cost of the treatment.
1. Current oral health
Dental implants are best placed in a healthy mouth. Before we decide whether it’s the right dental restoration option for you, we’ll look at the current health of your teeth and gums. If there are underlying issues that could affect the implant (such as gum disease), we’ll treat and resolve those first.
2. Extra dental work
To make way for your new implant, you may need dental surgery. For example, you may need a tooth removed if it hasn’t already been lost. We may also consider a sinus lift (for top-tooth implants) or a lower jaw bone graft so there’s enough healthy jaw space to fit the screw. This ensures it’s placed into stable, strong bone that’s free of decay or damage.
3. The number of implants being fitted
We usually talk about dental implants in the singular. However, you can get multiple implants that replace a few teeth at a time, or even full-mouth dental implants. As you probably guessed, the more dental implants that are needed, the higher the overall cost. But placing multiple implants at the same time reduces the cost of each implant. Setting up for a dental implant procedure once is more economical than doing it multiple times on separate occasions. And that fact, we’re happy to say, is reflected in the final fee.
4. Implant size and placement
Implants come in different lengths and diameters. The size of the implant depends on the amount of bone available and the distance between the teeth.
5. The implant’s manufacturer
There’s no one dental implant manufacturer in Australia. As with most dental equipment and supplies, a number of companies produce them. And each company delivers its own take on implants. Some companies invest more on research and manufacturing than others, which leads to a higher quality at a higher price.
6. Your dentist’s experience and location
Your dentist’s location and experience can also affect the price. The practice’s overheads, and the dentist’s ongoing training to keep up with the latest treatment for patients, may be reflected in the price of implants and other services.
Claiming dental implants on health insurance
Dental implant treatment is considered major dental work, and so some Australian health insurers will cover the procedure. Always check whether dental is included in your health insurance or if you need to add it as an extra.
It’s also worth noting that because dental implants are costly, policies may state how many implants you’re entitled to claim in a given time period. For example, you may be able to claim one implant every six months.
It’s really easy to find the information out. Your dentist can quickly swipe your health fund card to see:
- whether your insurance policy covers the item codes needed for your treatment
- what the cost gap will be.
What about a Medicare kickback?
Chances are you won’t be able to claim any dental implant costs on Medicare. Medicare doesn’t cover ‘most dental services’ or ‘cosmetic surgery’ at the moment, which is what dental implants are usually classed as.
Weighing up if dental implants are worth the cost
There’s no escaping the reality that dental implants cost a lot. But patients who go ahead with this treatment rarely regret it. Compared to other tooth replacement options, many patients find implants comfortable and easier to take care of. The first step to getting dental implants is speaking with a dentist who offers dental implant treatment. They’ll help you understand whether it’s the right restorative dental treatment for you and your lifestyle. If you’re in the Yeppoon and Rockhampton area, book a dental implant consultation with one of our dentists. We can do an initial assessment, and discuss dental implant treatment and interest-free payment plans that will work for you and your budget.