Dental implants fill a need, but at about $3,000 to $4,500 per implant -- and in the tens of thousands for a partial bridge or full set -- why not choose dentures instead? Well there are pros and cons to both. First, unlike implants, dentures can cost around $1,200 to several thousand for a complete set. But implants require much less maintenance and expenses over time than dentures. Also, insurance companies tend to reimburse patients for dentures and bridges at a higher percentage than implants, though some insurers may apply that coverage toward dental implants [source: Alderman].
So why do implants cost more and should you choose them instead of dentures? The higher expense is partly because implants require surgery and the expertise of two or more professionals, from dentists and prosthodontists (who work with the teeth -- both real and artificial), as well as periodontists who prepare and treat the gums, and maxillofacial surgeons who insert the posts and work with the jawbones. Not all implant surgeries require all of these specialists, but most will include appointments with both surgeons and dentists. Most patients, however, think the comfort and natural appearance of the implants make the higher cost worth it.
Also, people with implants will likely have them for life, as fewer than 5 percent of surgeries fail. Dentures and bridges, on the other hand, need to be replaced after about five years. Implants don't slip the way dentures and bridges can, rarely lead to dental work to adjoining teeth, and patients with implants tend to have healthier gums and bones [source: Alderman].
We'll look at how dental implants get implanted and how they stay in place so well, next.