The cost of dental care can be frustrating, especially for the individual who experiences frequent problems with his teeth. While insurance plans may ease these costs, many individuals find that their co-pays still make it difficult to afford good dental care. Further frustration is found in frequent dental visits, and the mental toll of having constant problems can be discouraging. Many people arrive at the conclusion that dentures would be the best solution, eliminating the painful visits to the dentist and mounting expenses. It’s important, though, to evaluate the costs of obtaining dentures.
Types of Dentures
Dentures provide a solution to poor dental conditions, but consideration of dentures doesn’t automatically mean that one’s entire set of teeth need to be removed. A full set of dentures includes both the upper and lower plates, which serve as the substitution for all real teeth. If one is only experiencing problems with the conditions of one set of teeth, either upper or lower, then it is possible to replace only the troublesome set with an upper or lower denture.
It’s also possible to obtain a partial denture which fills in a smaller area while leaving less troublesome teeth intact. Depending on the choice of full dentures, single plate, or a partial denture, the costs will vary. Per plate denture costs will range from $500 to $1000, with full dentures costing twice as much. Partial denture costs are very close to those of single plate costs.
Alternatives to Dentures
Many dentists suggest denture alternatives that allow a patient to retain teeth that aren’t troublesome, while filling in gaps that are created by missing teeth. Implants are receiving a great deal of attention, false teeth which are individually supported by screws anchored into the jawbone. While this is an attractive option from the standpoint of both aesthetics and convenience, the costs are very high. A single tooth will minimally cost $1000. The excessive cost of implants makes it impractical for many patients.
Bridges are used as alternatives to partial dentures. A bridge is a fixed prosthesis, taking the place of missing teeth and remaining in place. A bridge may be fixed in place by being anchored to existing teeth, or it may be held in place with implanted posts, much like those used for implants. Bridges are significantly more expensive than partial dentures, and while they may serve the patient well for a time, any changes in the anchor teeth can create a new set of problems and expenses. For the individual who faces financial constraints, a partial denture is much less expensive. Partial dentures can be expanded if additional teeth are lost, whereas a completely new bridge must be created to accommodate such changes.
Insurance Coverage of Dentures
Every insurance provider and plan is unique, and it is important to know what denture benefits are included in order to assess the overall personal cost of dentures. Some plans include an annual benefit limit, while others don’t. Some plans allow for prosthetic dental work, while others don’t. Deductibles vary from plan to plan, as do co-pays. If dentures are covered in a given plan, then patient costs will be a fraction of the overall denture cost. If a patient wants to obtain maximum insurance coverage on dentures, then it’s important to do so prior to using dental benefits for other work during the year. For example, a root canal will exhaust a large portion of a yearly benefit, limiting the amount available for dentures. Planning the use of one’s benefits can be difficult if there are serious problems to be addressed. Working with a trusted provider can allow for a reasonable plan of action to be determined in order to make the best use of insurance benefits.
Not having a trusted provider can be frustrating and costly. Some dentists may attempt to present more costly solutions, and in the process exhaust one’s dental benefits without providing real relief. Before committing to dentures or other prosthetics, it’s helpful to explore competitors’ pricing of the same services. Research can produce significant savings, and some providers offer free denture consultations. Others charge for consultations. Some providers are forthright with denture costs, providing the information in print or on websites. Some providers will write off portions of the cost, depending on the insurance benefits. It’s wise to investigate in order to find the most affordable provider.
For the patient who doesn’t have dental insurance, the same research principles apply. Finding a provider who offers free or inexpensive consultation will allow various options to be explored before committing to a specific plan.
Additional Costs Related to Dentures
Deciding on a set of dentures or a partial can create some unexpected costs, depending on personal needs and provider approaches. Some providers include tooth extraction in their overall denture package. Others charge separately for tooth extraction. Per tooth extraction can cost between 50 and 100 dollars, depending on the provider. While insurance coverage of the extractions may lessen the costs, it will also lessen the amount of benefit money left to address denture costs. If an individual is paying completely out of pocket, the cost of tooth extractions can come close to that of the dentures.
There are also potential professional costs associated with dentures. Missing work for appointments may have a financial impact. It’s important to arrange tooth extractions and denture fittings with as little schedule conflict as possible if lost wages are a concern.
Most providers require that a four to six week period be allowed for gums to heal from extractions. At this point fittings take place in order to create the dentures or partial. Many patients don’t want to be without some sort of cosmetic alternative, and this can incur additional costs. One solution is a preliminary fitting for the prosthesis, which will be provided at the time of tooth extractions. There will be recurring fittings over a several month period, and replacement of the initial devices is likely. Most insurance companies won’t cover the additional set, and the patient will be responsible for the expense.
In the case of a partial denture, a cosmetic device can be created to give the appearance of teeth. Known as a flipper, the device isn’t usually covered by insurance benefits. A flipper will generally cost less than 500 dollars. For many, the professional benefit is significant enough to warrant the expense.
It’s important to weigh all cost considerations when deciding on dentures. Extraction of one’s teeth is a permanent step, and there are often intermediate steps that can alleviate the pain of multiple extractions. Partial dentures can save money and time, if they are appropriate. If a full set of dentures is the best plan, though, it’s helpful to plan around insurance benefit periods and work holidays. The costs can be contained, and the frustration of endless dental problems can be significantly decreased.