Guide to Dental Implants
Learn more about the benefits, risks, process, and cost of a dental implant procedure.
Dental implants are a type of oral surgery that can help replace missing teeth. Learn about what kinds of insurance cover dental implants, when you might consider getting dental implants, how much they cost, All-on-4 dental implants, and more.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are a type of teeth replacement procedure. Artificial teeth (crowns) are surgically implanted into your jawbone making them more like your natural teeth. The appeal of dental implants is that they look and feel more like real teeth than other options such as bridges or dentures.
Should you get a dental implant?
The decision to get a dental implant vs. a bridge or even dentures is a personal one. Are you healthy? Do you have oral health problems? Can you afford the cost for dental implants? Are you willing to spend months on the procedure? There are a lot of things to think about.
Dental implants may make sense in the following situations:
- You have a missing tooth or multiple missing teeth not next each other.
- You are generally in good health.
- Your jawbone can support dental implants.
- You are unable to wear dentures.
- You can afford dental implants and prefer them over other alternatives.
Getting an implant may also be impacted by your overall health. Talk with your dentist before making any decisions about dental implants. If you have any chronic medical problems make sure to consult with your primary care provider, too.
Need dental coverage?Cigna Healthcare offers a variety of affordable dental plans, from basic plans that cover preventive care to plans that help cover major dental care.
Benefits of Dental Implants
Why consider dental implants over other teeth replacement procedures? Here are some benefits of dental implants:1
- They look and feel like natural teeth—with proper care, implants can last for the rest of your life
- You can chew foods naturally
- Risk of gum disease is low compared to bridges or dentures which make it easier for bacteria to grow
- Dental implants can be beneficial for your overall jaw structure and bone health
Dental Implant Risks and Complications
While there are many benefits to dental implants, there are also a few risks and possible complications:2
- Infection is always a possibility when undergoing oral surgery
- Nerve damage isn’t common, but is a risk for dental implants
- Because your sinuses are very close to your upper jaw, drilling into your jaw could lead to sinus complications
- Certain medical conditions can also lead to complications—talk with both your dentist and doctor before deciding to get implants
After your implants are done, make sure to maintain good dental hygiene. Talk to your dentist if you have any pain or swelling, etc. These could be signs of additional problems.
What is the cost of dental implants?
Dental implants tend to be some of the more costly dental procedures. This is a lengthy process with many steps along the way.
The cost for a single-tooth dental implant starts around $3,0003 but can cost much more, depending on other factors.
The cost for a whole mouth dental implant can be up to 20 times the cost for a single tooth.
Why do dental implants cost so much?
Everything involved in the dental implant process comes with a separate cost. Here are some tips for getting dental implant cost information:
- Ask your dentist to provide you with an itemized cost breakdown and any payment plans they may offer.
- Some dentists may post their costs online. Make sure you know exactly what those costs are actually getting you. Does that cost just include the initial implant? Or does it represent your final cost?
- See if your dental plan covers any part of this procedure. Check your Outline of Coverage for benefits, as well as limitations and exclusions.
- A dental fee schedule may be available through your dental plan or insurer. This is a detailed listing of the dental procedures and treatments, along with covered cost.
- If you have a
health savings account (HSA)with your insurance plan, you may be able to use funds to help pay some portion of a dental implant.
Cigna HealthcareSM includes coverage for dental implants in the
Are there dental plans that cover dental implants?
Why? Dental implants are some of the costliest dental procedures, requiring
Dental plans often offer coverage for alternative procedures in cases of missing teeth. Bridges and partial dentures are other solutions to teeth replacement that are also less costly and less invasive (not requiring surgery).
Here are tips for how to find a dental plan that covers dental implants:
- Shop carefully!
- Look for dental plans that offer more comprehensive coverage for major restorative work and specifically say there is coverage for dental implants
- Read all plan details. These are sometimes called Summary of Benefits and Coverage or Outlines of Coverage.
- There may be coverage for some parts of the dental implant process.
- Pay special attention to any language around “limitations and exclusions.” This is often where you will find out if dental implant procedures are not covered.
- Be sure you know what your out-of-pocket costs for dental implants might be if your dental plan provides coverage.
- If you have a health savings account—HRA, HSA, FSA—you may be able to use those funds to help pay part of the dental implants cost.
What is the procedure for dental implants?
Dental implants are typically performed by an oral surgeon, which is a
The actual process of dental implants from start to finish can take months and include many steps, such as:
- Comprehensive oral exam
- X-rays and imaging of jaw and teeth
- Reconstructive jaw surgery/bone graft or sinus surgery, if needed
- Local or general anesthesia
- Drilling and placement of implant post into jawbone
- Healing time after post placement
- Surgery to attach the abutment
- Creation of a crown, or artificial tooth
- Attachment of artificial tooth onto the abutment
- Post-surgery healing and pain management
- Follow-up exams
The above list can differ greatly from person to person. Dental implant procedures can take weeks to months from beginning to end due to the nature of the procedure.
What are All-on-4 dental implants?
An All-on-4 dental implant is a type of implant procedure in which all your teeth are replaced with an upper and lower set (or arch) of artificial teeth. This technique may also be called “denture implants” because the dentist is essentially implanting two sections of dentures.
All-on-4s are best for someone who needs full mouth dental implants and typically cost less than traditional full mouth implants.
Dental implants are often a costly and time-consuming procedure that can take weeks or months, but implants feel more like natural teeth, making them a more desirable option for some people. Unfortunately, most dental plans either exclude dental implants altogether or else cover only a part of the cost, making this still a fairly costly teeth replacement option.
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1 WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/benefits-dental-implants, accessed August 4, 2023
2 WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/risks-dental-implants, accessed August 4, 2023
3 Forbes Health, https://www.forbes.com/health/dental/how-much-dental-implants-cost/, accessed August 4, 2023
This information is for educational purposes only and is not medical advice. Always consult with your dentist for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations.
Product availability may vary by location and plan type and is subject to change. All dental insurance policies contain exclusions and limitations. For costs and details of coverage, review your plan documents or contact a Cigna Healthcare representative. All Cigna Healthcare products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of The Cigna GroupSM, including Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company and Cigna Dental Health, Inc. In Texas, the Dental plan is known as Cigna Dental Choice, and this plan uses the national Cigna DPPO Advantage network. In Utah, all products and services are provided by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT).
This page is not intended for use in GA, NM, NV and WV.
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