Nowadays a wide, bright smile is associated with health, success and attractiveness. So much so, that the loss of even one or two teeth can have a serious impact on a one’s self-confidence.
Health too is impacted, as the lack of teeth means that food is not being properly chewed before arriving in the stomach. This in turn can lead to bloating and acid reflux.
The benefits of dentures to those who have lost their teeth to periodontal disease, illness, tooth decay or traumatic injury are obvious. The question only remains how much do dentures cost and what kind of dentures do I need.
Types of Dentures
Those who have lost all their teeth or who need to have all their remaining teeth extracted will need a full set of dentures. These are called complete dentures and they can be further defined as “conventional” or “immediate”.
- Immediate dentures are fitted immediately after your last teeth are extracted. They act like a band aid, protecting the injured tissue and reducing bleeding. Because the gum and bone will change shape in the months following extraction, immediate teeth are really only a temporary solution and should be replaced after six months.
- Conventional dentures are those which are made and fitted to your mouth after teeth have been removed and the gum is healed. The fabrication process includes taking an impression of your mouth and several fittings before the dentures are ready to wear. The process can take from 8 to 12 weeks.
Partial or Over Dentures
These dentures are an appropriate choice when you are missing some, but not all, of your teeth. Partial dentures are sometimes supported by metal anchors that are attached to your gum or bone line to keep them secure. While over dentures tend to be anchored to the remaining natural teeth.
In either case, partial and over dentures play an important role in keeping existing teeth from shifting in place around the gaps that exist where real teeth are missing.
Factors Affecting the Cost of Dentures
Costs of Pre-Denture Consultation and Treatment
Before dentures can be prepared and fitted, you may need several teeth extracted or other oral treatment. The costs of these procedures must not be overlooked when considering the price of dentures.
Dentist or Prosthodontist Fees
Another factor in the cost of dentures is the skill and qualifications of the dentist. While most general dentists will offer dentures, patients who need specialized care might expect to pay more for the attention of a prosthodontist.
Depending on other factors like location and the dental system used, a general dentist may charge as little as $350 for a set of conventional dentures while a prosthodontist might charge closer to $10,000. Usually the difference is not quite so staggering but this does emphasize how important it is to shop around.
Denture Construction and Materials
The material and dental system used to create the dentures is also a cost factor. Acrylic resin is strong and wear resistant although it is prone to abrasion. Porcelain is less durable but is often used for front upper teeth, which are so prominent in a nice smile.
The frame which holds the teeth is made of metal alloy and plastic. The frame has to fit well and enable the wearer to chew food comfortably.
The Impact of Location on the Price of Dentures
Interestingly, according to a survey done by The Wealthy Dentist, the average cost across the US for a set of complete dentures is $2,900 but there is a significant price differential according to region and location.
Apparently, dentists in the Northeast charge approximately $400 more per set of dentures than their peers in the Western mountain states. Also worth noting is that rural dentists charge less than those in the cities and towns.
Comparing the Cost of Dentures
Even within one dental clinic there will be a range of prices for dentures depending on the quality or the system used. For example, dentists affiliated to the Affordable Dentists network offer a choice of Economy, Custom, Deluxe, Premium and Ultra Dentures.
The fees for Affordable Dentures – Topeka, PA in Kansas for example are as follows:
- Economy Dentures: $325
- Custom Dentures: $625
- Premium Dentures: $925
- Ultra Dentures: $1,225
The Affordable Dentures network also offers a package for First Time Denture Wearers which includes an immediate denture (after extraction) and a second denture after your gums are fully healed.
In comparison, average denture prices at a prosthodontist range between $500 to $2,500 per arch (upper or lower) while a recent survey on the cost of dentures received one quote from a prosthodontist of $10,000 for a set of dentures!
Denture Costs and Options
Dentures, whether they are complete or partial are intended to be worn daily and to last for years. There are low cost and even free options available for those who simply want a basic set of dentures however, if you want to ensure the best fit, durability, aesthetic quality and comfort, you will have to pay more.
Even so, many dentists offer a payment plan where you can pay down dental treatment fees over a period of months and your own dental insurance may also foot at least part of the bill.
Dentures on a Low-Income Budget
$0 to $250
Because having a great smile is such a confidence booster, one of the worst times to be in need of dental care or dentures is when you are seeking employment. Feeling self-conscious about bad or missing teeth is not going to help in an interview situation. At the same time, if one is already out of work, where does the money come from for dentures?
The U.S. government offers health and dental related grants which tend to filter down to the community via charitable organizations like the Kiwanis or via local citizen centers. These organizations sometimes give out vouchers which can be exchanged for full or part payment at participating dentists.
Also some dental colleges accept volunteer patients for treatment from supervised students. The students benefit from hands-on experience while in return the volunteer patient receives supervised treatment which can include dentures.
Dentures in the Mid-Price Range
$250 to $5,000
Most dental clinics offer dentures and many, like the Topeka clinic above, will give you a list of price options. The difference in the prices between denture plates or systems has to do with the quality of the materials used, the method of fabrication and the length of the guarantee.
High End Dentures
$5,000 to $10,000
A prosthosdontist has trained for three years longer than a dentist and, according to the American College of Prosthodontists , specializes in the aesthetic restoration and replacement of teeth and restoring optimum appearance and function to your smile.
Complete dentures are a unique product in that they are so very personal and yet are also a key facet of your appearance. While a good set of dentures can make you look and feel 10 years younger an ill-fitting set will make you uncomfortable and anxious.
Dentures from an experienced prosthodontist will cost significantly more than that from a general dentist but the extended training and use of innovative material in denture construction should result in superior comfort and cosmetic appearance.
Dental Insurance and Dental Discount Plans
Dental insurance falls into two categories; preventative and restorative. Dentures fall under the restorative category which may or may not be covered depending on your insurer. Commonly, if dentures are included in your dental insurance, it will be for 50% of the cost and there will be some level of maximum payment.
An alternative to dental insurance is the dental discount plan which offers discounted prices on dental procedures from dentists that are affiliated with the network.
While dentures are not an item that you should cut corners on, it is also worth noting that the best dentist in your area is not necessarily the most expensive. Ask friends and family in your neighborhood for their recommendations for a good dentist and compare notes.