You’ve looked into how much dental implants cost in Australia and it’s in the thousands.
So now you’re thinking about going overseas to get them done for half the price. Bali… Thailand, maybe… and have a holiday with the money you’ve saved. Sounds good?
But wait. Before you book that plane ticket, read on.
First up, what exactly are dental implants?
If you’ve lost one or more teeth, dental implants are the closest thing we can give you to having your teeth back – in the way they look, feel and function.
This complex dental procedure involves 2 stages:
- A titanium fixture or screw (abutment) is surgically implanted into your jawbone and acts like an anchor
- Then your new prosthetic tooth/crown gets fixed on to this
It requires healing time in-between and the health of your jawbone is key to the success of this procedure.
How much am I looking at?
“Dental implants are the gold standard in tooth replacement options,” says Dr Kerr, who’s been doing dental implants for 17 years and was a featured speaker on Prosthetic-based Implant Planning at ADX18, Australia’s largest dental exhibition, in March 2017.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
How many dental implants do you need?
Replacing one tooth or several? The cost of dental implants comes down to the individual’s case, however the number of implants you require does make a big difference to the final cost.
Do you require extra procedures first?
You may need other dental work done, like a bone graft if you don’t have enough healthy jawbone for the implant, or an extraction to remove a tooth that can’t be saved.
Compare apples with apples
If you’re shopping around on prices, make sure you’re being quoted for all the component parts of the procedure, including the surgical implantation of the fixture and the prosthetic tooth replacement.
There’s no single treatment plan for dental implants. It’s very customisable – some patients may need more work, others less. This makes it difficult to put a fixed dollar figure on dental implants cost.
It’s a bit like asking: “How much does a house cost?” There are so many designs and materials that until you have a blueprint, it’s impossible to have any accurate idea.
In the end, the most important thing is to deal with someone you can trust, who’ll spend the time planning the treatment properly and who’ll stand behind their work.
We can look at other options to fit your budget
For example, if you’re missing four teeth, you could have four dental implants – each fixed with a prosthetic tooth/crown.
Or, if cost was a concern for you, we could address it with two dental implants and a removable denture instead. It would depend upon your suitability and preference, and we’ll explain all the options in an individual consultation.
Can I get a rebate from my private health insurance?
Health insurance companies usually only cover a small portion of dental implants procedures. You’ll need to check your insurance company directly with the quote and item numbers your dentist provides.
In other cases, particularly emergency situations, some people like to consider payment options and plans. We can talk with you about ways we can help you best pay for your dental implants.
But surely it’s cheaper overseas?
When it comes to dental implants costs, one of the biggest questions we are asked is about dental tourism – patients going overseas for procedures because it’s cheaper.
Unfortunately, many people are told that getting dental implants is simple. It can be simple, but only when everything is planned in the right way and done according to strict protocols.
Dental tourism: take this case…
We recently saw a patient who was considering going to Bali for dental implants. Her situation wasn’t one where she could go overseas for two weeks, get a suntan and have her teeth fixed. In her case, she required several complicated procedures including a bone graft. Trying to do treatment for this patient in two to three weeks would have resulted in a huge risk of complications or an enormous compromise in the appearance and function of the final result.
While there may be some very good dental surgeons overseas, it’s important patients understand that getting dental implants is an ongoing process and you need to feel comfortable with the people you’re dealing with. Things can go wrong, even with the best planning (obviously we try to minimise that). There are different parts of the process, so it’s ideal if you’re able to communicate comfortably with your dentist before, throughout and after the treatment.
With dental tourism, there are a lot of traps for patients
Unfortunately, we often see the kind of dental work where we shake our head and think, “That should never have happened.”
Lack of regulation
One of the problems with getting dental implants done overseas is that there
isn’t a lot of regulation with the titanium fixture that’s implanted in the jawbone.
There are hundreds of different brands, which vary hugely in quality and cost, and many aren’t available in Australia because they don’t pass the stricter standards we have here.
Repair or replacement
In some cases we’ve seen, the patient has had problems after returning home which requires extensive treatment to repair or replace their dental implants.
Because they’ve had the procedure done overseas, we actually may not be able to repair their dental implants because we don’t have the right component to match what was used.
Patients can lose more jawbone because of infection associated with poor-quality dental implants. Once the bone has deteriorated, what you can do for them becomes limited or complicated and the surgery is more invasive.
Are dental implants right for me?
If dental implants cost is your primary concern, then we recommend you explore other options for replacing missing teeth. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, and only you can choose what’s right for you.
Often this information can take a while to digest and that’s why we never rush people during this process. Our goal is to not only give you the information you need, but to answer all of your questions to your satisfaction so you can decide on the option that’s best for you and your circumstances.
After all, as a health professional, our only interest is what is in your best interest.