This might sound a little odd, but I’ve been researching dental implants for a couple of years now and I’ve had consultations from four dentists. It’s not that there’s a problem with any of them, I just want to find someone who will do the work for a price that fits within my budget. I need to have three teeth replaced, so this is a big challenge for me. I just got an estimate from a place that only wants to charge me about half of what the other guys did. I don’t know why, but it worried me, so I asked about why they were able to charge so much less. The lady says it’s not that they’re less, it’s that the other doctors in my area are price-gouging. How can I find out if she’s right or not?
Joel in Illinois
You’re right. Something sounds off about that estimate. Unfortunately, dental implants are one of the more-expensive procedures to have done. First, the dentist has had to go through a lot of additional schooling to be able to perform the surgery well. If you want a skilled doctor, that’s an expense you can’t avoid. Secondly, the parts can be very expensive. Depending on who the dentist gets them from, the screw alone can cost more than $100. On the other hand, he can buy one from a third-world country, that doesn’t comply with United States quality and safety standards, for pennies. You’ll also have a lab technician designing a ceramic false tooth (porcelain crown) to top it all off. Again, the quality of his materials and experience will come into play when a dentist sets dental implant rates as well.
Sometimes, there will be a small cost difference between dentists. When a dentist sets his rates, he takes into consideration the amount of time he expects to spend, the amount of time his staff will be working with you, and also the cost of the materials. This is why there are slight variances between practices. When you come across one who charges significantly more or much less, there’s something going on.
It’s possible this final dentist is offering you a different procedure, like mini implants. A practice like this may be marketing them as affordable dental implants. It’s also possible he’s cutting costs on materials. If you want a better answer from him, ask him for the dental billing codes for each procedure he’s recommending. Then, compare these with the codes from your other dentists. If they don’t match, he’s offering a different treatment. If they’re the same, you can investigate his materials. Ask him who his supplier is, and what brand he uses. Compare this with the other providers. You can even research the brand-name to see if it’s from the U.S. and is FDA-compliant. You’re bound to uncover why the prices are so low, and the reason isn’t likely to be a good one.
Word to the wise – don’t select the cheapest dental implant option. You will end up paying much more in the long run if they become loose, infected, or have other complications. Thank you for your question.