A question we receive a lot at our offices, is why dental implants are so expensive. This is a reasonable question. Most people aren’t accustomed to seeing a bill in the thousands of dollars for a repair on a single tooth. While some offices are much more affordable than others, there still is a significant cost associated with providing a dental implant.
First, the variable cost of supplies associated with placing an implant is much higher than other single tooth treatments. The actual implant is a titanium screw that is secured into the bone. This titanium screw can cost the dentist up to $500. The crown, or tooth, doesn’t attach directly to the implant. An abutment is placed into the implant, which is where the crown is affixed. The abutment will cost the dentist around $100, and the crown will cost the dentist around $200, depending on the lab. A surgical guide should be used during surgery. This will assist the dentist in guiding the implant into the correct location, depth, and angle. The design and manufacture of the surgical guide can cost up to $200. Depending on the case, the doctor may need to bone graft and place membranes in the treatment area. This can cost the dentist over $100 as well.
Next, in order for a dentist to perform implant surgery correctly, there is a significant investment in equipment that needs to be made. In order to get an accurate picture of your bone and nerves, a 3D CBCT scanner is required. The CBCT scanner can cost up to $100,000. This is not a piece of equipment you’ll find in a standard dental office. Your dentist will also need an intraoral scanner and software. The scanners will be priced in the $50,000 range, and many companies require a yearly renewal for access to the software in the thousands of dollars range. The dentist will also need an implant kit which can also cost thousands of dollars.
As with any dental procedure there is also a labor and overhead cost associated with an implant. Dentists have to be paid for their time, as do their assistants and other staff. But unique to an implant, there is labor associated with the extraction, bone grafting, and the actual placement of the implant, abutment, and crown. It’s a time consuming process for the staff.
The final reason for the seemingly high price of a dental implant is that dental implant training is not part of the standard dental school curriculum. A dentist either has to take time off of work and do extra training to learn how to place implants at the cost of many days of work, and the cost of the course itself, generally thousands of dollars, or do extra schooling to become an oral surgeon.
Many offices are only placing one or two dental implants per month. That is a lot of expense to pass on to just two procedures. Offices that provide more implants are able to spread the fixed costs over more patients and offer dental implants more affordable. Also, as technology gets better, and implants become more common, the price is declining.